3.99m homes where no-one works: how did it happen?
Filed under: Career
So how has this happened?
The figuresThe North East has the highest percentage of workless households - at 25.7% - while the South East has the lowest - at 14.5%. Of the four countries of the UK, Wales has the highest percentage of workless households, at 21.6% with the lowest percentage in England at 18.6%.
Within the 3.9 million workless households, there were 5.5 million adults of working age and 1.9 million children under 16. This represents a stunning level of inactivity - and means that almost 2 million children are potentially growing up with the understanding that they either won't have to work, or won't be able to.
Employment minister Chris Grayling (pictured) said: "These figures confirm the challenge we face to get people into employment. We have already taken urgent steps to reform the welfare system by introducing Universal Credit to make work pay, and our Work Programme which gives people the skills they need so that they can re-engage with the labour market."
Who is to blame?The figures sparked a debate as to what is to blame. Clearly the recession is playing its part. The percentage of workless households was 17.4% in 2006, and the growth since can be in part attributed to the demise of the jobs market.
The fact that unemployment across the European Union is at its highest since records began in 1995 would indicate that this isn't purely a British problem, created by political failures in the UK. There are around 17.4 million unemployed people in the eurozone at the moment - which is around 11% of the population of working age.
FailuresHowever, the politicians aren't entirely off the hook. The figures also revealed that there were 291,000 homes where no one has ever had a job. That number has doubled in the last 15 years and led to speculation that there is a growing culture of idleness in the UK.
The European Commission, in a report yesterday, laid part of the blame at the door of educational failures. It said: "Skills mismatches translate into higher unemployment levels, especially for young people." It added: "The UK has an oversupply of low-skilled workers for whom demand is falling and a shortage of workers with high-quality vocational and technical skills." And "The UK also continues to have a relatively high number of adults with very poor basic literacy and numeracy skills, who are not well placed to benefit from vocational training."
It added that "the lack of high-quality and affordable childcare" was another contributing factor. Part of the issue is that in many houses, caring responsibilities make work impractical given the cost of care. Lone parent households had the highest percentage of workless households at 38.8%. It is perhaps testament to the work ethic in some of these households that in addition to full time care of the family, the parent is at least putting in part of a day's paid work too.
However, the EC also alluded to a possible benefits culture, saying: "'A cap on the total amount of benefit that can be claimed could boost incentives to work."
But what do you think, who is to blame? Let us know in the comments.
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