Prime Minister Gordon Brown has vowed to do everything in his power to keep people in jobs as unemployment soars.
Unemployment has increased by 164,000 to its worst level since 1999. A total of 1.79 million people were out of work in the quarter to August, an unemployment rate of 5.7%, up by 0.5% over the quarter and the highest since the spring of 2000.
In the West Midlands, the figure was 169,000, a rise of 4,000 or 6.4%.
The Prime Minister refused to comment on the unemployment figures, but insisted: "We will do everything we can to help create jobs and help people maintain jobs in the British economy."
Mr Brown went on: "Unemployment and redundancies are something we wish to avoid wherever possible and we will do everything in our power to help people to move in to jobs when vacancies exist, and to minimise the impact of unemployment."
He pointed out that the unemployment rate was higher in America, Germany, France and Italy than in Britain, but the Government would do all it could for those affected by the downturn.
Mr Brown was speaking after talks in Brussels with the president of the European Commission ahead of an EU summit which starts today and which will concentrate on the fallout from the financial crisis.
Mr Brown, hailed as the triumphant architect of a British bailout plan now being adopted across Europe, said today he would be pushing for swift action to set up a new "financial vision" suitable for today's global economy.
"Stage one was to stabilise the financial system with liquidity, recapitalisation and trying to get funds moving for small businesses and consumers.
"Stage two is to make sure that the problems of the financial system - which started in America - do not recur again," explained the Prime Minister.
Mr Brown said the target was to "root out irresponsibilities and excesses" in the current financial system.
"We need supervision and regulation where it has been lacking and where it is necessary, and international co-operation. We need an early warning system and proper co-ordination."
Mr Brown said the last major shake-up of the financial system - the 1944 Bretton Woods accord - had been designed for a world of national financial markets.
But in today's global economy, the International Monetary Fund, set up by Bretton Woods had to be rebuilt.
An early warning system was needed to end the need for multiple supervisory bodies monitoring different national and regional financial systems.
Later, Mr Brown will put his case to fellow EU leaders and insist that "stage two" is needed now and cannot wait.
Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso once again paid tribute to the Prime Minister's role in setting an EU-wide framework for handling the current crisis.
Mr Barroso said now was the time to take the action "to the next level".
He went on: "Europe is leading the global response. We must continue to do so."
He said deeper international co-ordination - specifically with America - was an urgent priority.
Mr Brown and Mr Barroso both insisted that Europe's climate change goals - also on the summit agenda - should not be compromised by the financial crisis.
The Prime Minister insisted that despite the cost of cutting CO2 emissions in line with EU pledges made a year ago, Europe had to continue the task to ensure longer term savings derived from greener energy policies.
Before the summit Mr Brown was due to visit Britain's new European Commissioner, Baroness Ashton, who replaced Peter Mandelson in the trade dossier earlier this month.