Jobless ‘outnumber workers in some British neighbourhoods’

20 May 13
More than half the working-age population is dependent on benefits in some parts of Britain, a study by the Centre for Social Justice revealed today.

By Richard Johnstone | 20 May 2013

More than half the working-age population is dependent on benefits in some parts of Britain, a study by the Centre for Social Justice revealed today.

An examination by the think-tank found there were at least six areas of the country where the number of working-age people on benefits was higher than the number in work.

According to Signed on, written off, this included parts of Birmingham, Blackburn with Darwen in Lancashire, Wirral in Merseyside, Tendring in Essex, northeast Lincolnshire and Denbighshire in Wales.

The report highlighted almost 70 neighbourhoods in Liverpool where the proportion of those claiming out-of-work benefits was 30% or higher, the most in the country. This was followed by Birmingham (49 neighbourhoods), Hull (45 neighbourhoods), Manchester (40 neighbourhoods), Leeds (37 neighbourhoods) and Knowsley (31 neighbourhoods).

Overall, around 6.8 million people in the UK are living in a home where no one has a job, and almost a fifth of UK children, 1.8 million, are growing up in a workless household.

The total cost of the welfare and social security system over the five years of the coalition government to 2015 will surpass £1 trillion, the report added. It said this demonstrated the need for further benefit reforms.

The think-tank was founded by Iain Duncan Smith, who is now Work and Pensions Secretary, in 2004. It has helped devise the policies the government has introduced, including the Universal Credit replacement for benefits, which is intended to make work pay.

The centre today urged the government to go further in light of the high welfare dependency in some parts of the country.

In a foreword to the report, CSJ managing director Christian Guy said economic growth was not guaranteed to curb the ‘seemingly unstoppable rise’ in welfare bills. ‘The welfare ghettos trapping as many as 6.8 million people are a national disgrace,’ he added. ‘They represent years of tragic failure and indifference from the political class. People in these neighbourhoods have been consistently written off as incapable and their poverty plight inevitable.

‘While some campaigners accuse this government of being callous for its benefit cap, the truth is there has been a much more damaging welfare cap in these communities for years – an unjust cap on personal potential.’

Further reforms were essential and 'could wait no longer’ as there is a need to cut the cost of welfare, Guy said, and initial reforms being introduced should be followed by a ‘second phase’.

He added: ‘The most powerful arguments for reforming welfare are not financial, but social. By focusing on income transfers rather than employment, our welfare system has made people dependent on benefits, trapping them in poverty and preventing them from achieving economic independence.’


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