The number of people on benefits increased by 10,631 between November and December and the total stands at 352,707, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said.

Unemployment benefit figures remained high at 67,084 - an increase of 4536.

More than half the latest increase was driven by young people completing education and training and looking for work, Ms Bennett said.

There were 112,865 people on a domestic purposes benefit at the end of December, 85,105 on an invalid's benefit and 59,988 on a sickness benefit.

A further 27,665 were on other benefits.