Former Conservative prime minister John Major has warned of an impending avalanche of job losses.
Major told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday that the economic downturn would bite hard after Christmas.
The jobless total reached an 11-year high of 1.82 million people when the latest figures were released by the Office for National Statistics in November.
But Major said: "We have a total of 5m people on out-of-work benefits of one sort or another. Nearly 2m show as unemployed.
"There's another million at least on invalidity benefit whom the government themselves say could and should be working. So the unemployment figures are actually far worse than they immediately appear, and I fear we're going to have an avalanche of job losses in the first three or four months of next year."