‘Crisis’ of worklessness and welfare dependency

The 'crisis' of worklessness and welfare dependency in the UK cannot be blamed on the global economic recession, according to a new report from a right-of-centre think tank linked to the Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith MP. 

Key points

  • High levels of worklessness pre-dated the latest global recession, with the number of people claiming out-of-work benefits hovering above 4 million for more than 15 years.
  • There are some neighbourhoods where there are more working-age people claiming benefits than those who are in work. The worst affected areas include Birmingham, Blackburn with Darwen, Wirral, Tendring, north east Lincolnshire and parts of Denbighshire in Wales.
  • Across the country, 6.8 million people are living in a home where no one has a job. Nearly one fifth of children (1.8 million) are growing up in a workless household (the second highest rate in the EU). The 'vast majority' of charities helping unemployed people say they know of families where two or three generations have no-one in work.
  • The main barriers to work include: a growing skills gap, leaving many employers unable to fill their vacancies; some Jobcentres failing to provide even the most basic support to those who need it most; social housing 'trapping' people in areas of the country where too few people are in work; and the changing nature of employment, making work less secure.
  • Some of the reforms initiated by the coalition – notably universal credit – will begin the process of helping more people into work. But there is a need to move away from the idea that a focus on incomes alone can solve the problem.

SourceSigned On, Written Off: An Inquiry into Welfare Dependency in Britain, Centre for Social Justice
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Publication date: 
May 24 2013