ALMOST 40 jobs are to be axed at the Oxford offices of British Gas.

Bosses at the energy giant, which employs more than 600 workers at its business division on Oxford Business Park, said 39 roles were being made redundant as a result of new back office systems being introduced.

The announcement came as figures showed the county’s dole queue is lengthening, bucking the national trend.

British Gas spokesman Leonie Edwards said: “The reason we are doing this is that we want to improve our service to become more competitive.

“We have invested in new systems and expect to do less back office work, so we have reviewed resource levels.”

A total of 158 jobs in the UK are being cut between now and the end of next year.

Ms Edwards added that the firm was looking to minimise compulsory redundancies and would be looking to cut agency staff and try to redeploy workers elsewhere in the company.

A 45-day consultation period will now begin with affected workers.

Union leaders said the move was “not unexpected.”

GMB national officer Gary Smith said: “I am hoping to minimise compulsory job losses and find new roles elsewhere.”

The announcement comes less than a year after staff moved into state-of-the-art headquarters on the Oxford Business Park.

Meanwhile, the number of people signing on the dole in Oxfordshire has risen for the first time in almost a year.

Figures produced by the Office for National Statistics show 4,762 individuals claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in January, 61 more than the previous month. The last time there was a rise was in February 2013.

But year-on-year statistics show a major drop, with 2,080 fewer claimants than in January last year.