Eight million have no job (and don't even want one)

Daily Mail (Link) - Becky Barrow (November 12, 2009)

The number of people who do not have a job - and are not bothering to look for one - has soared to its highest since records began in 1971.

A record 7.9million - one in five people of working age - are ' economically inactive'. That is more than the entire population of Greater London.

Tories called the figures from the Office for National Statistics ' shocking' and said they exposed an ' alarming trend'. Theresa May, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said: 'A culture of worklessness has become rife in pockets of Brown's Britain.

'It is shocking that one in five people of working age is economically inactive and that five million people have never worked under this government.

'Labour's decision to duck the real challenge of welfare reform over the past decade has fuelled this alarming trend.'

There are seven groups of economic inactivity - students, looking after family/home, temporary sick, long-term sick, discouraged, retired or 'other.'

While some people are legitimately out of the jobs market, such as mothers looking after young children, many are not. Nearly 75,000 people are ' discouraged' workers, which means they are not looking for a job because they do not believe one is available.

More than two million are classed as 'long-term sick', even though they may actually be fit to work. Some 2.6million claim Incapacity Benefit and its replacement Employment and Support Allowance at a cost of more than �12billion a year.

Experts say many of the inactive are simply swindling the State out of millions in benefits. There has been a recession-driven boom in benefit fraud, with the amount of money paid to cheats up �300million last year.

The figures show that 4.8million people of working age live in a home where no one holds down a job.

'Low earners are being hit hard by the recession. This report shows that low earners will continue to lose jobs, homes and get into financial trouble unless further support is available'

They have been dubbed the 'Shameless' generation of benefit addicts.

The ONS also revealed that unemployment is still rising, although at a significantly slower pace than in recent months. The jobless total rose 30,000 between July and September to 2.46million, the smallest increase for 18 months, and only a fraction of the rise of 250,000 in the spring.

The number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance rose by 12,900 to 1.64million, the highest since Labour came to power in 1997.

Ministers trumpeted a rise in the numbers in work, but experts said the overall picture was far from rosy. An increasing proportion of jobs are parttime, and usually lower-paid with fewer perks and little job security.

The ONS said women are being hit far harder than men by job losses. During the quarter, 75,000 women lost full-time jobs, compared to 41,000 men.

Ian Brinkley, associate director of The Work Foundation, said: 'For many, especially the young and those in the private sector, there are still many months of job losses and insecurity to come.'

The new figures also confirmed fears about a crisis among young people, with nearly a million between 16 and 24 unemployed.

It is a record rate of 19.8 per cent, though the figure includes some 250,000 students who count as unemployed if they look for part-time work.

LibDem spokesman Steve Webb said: 'It is a national disgrace that one in five 16 to 24 year-olds are now unemployed.

'We cannot afford to write off a whole generation in this way. 'For months young people have heard promises from the Government of jobs that will not materialise until next year at the earliest - which will be too late.'