'Disturbing' rise in Bristol's workless households
THE number of Bristol homes where no one has a job has risen by almost 10,000 in the space of a year.
One city MP has said the figures, released by the government yesterday, were "deeply disturbing".
The number of children in the city growing up in so-called "workless households" has risen to almost 14,000.
Workless households are defined as those which include at least one person of working age – defined as from 16 to 64 – but where no one has a job.
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Across Bristol, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset and Bath & North East Somerset, more than 66,000 workless households were recorded in 2011 – a rise of almost 10,000 from the previous year.
The biggest increase was in Bristol, where the number went up from 26,048 to 35,881 – a rise of 9,833.
Nationally five million people aged 16 to 64 live in workless households, including 1.8 million children.
Last night ministers said the national picture was "encouraging", although they conceded that the government was still facing a "substantial challenge" in cutting the numbers.
But Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy said: "It is deeply disturbing that there has been such an increase in the number of workless households in Bristol, and in the number of children affected.
"This is a clear sign of how difficult it is to find work, or to keep hold of a job in this double-dip recession, particularly in cities like ours."
The Labour MP pinned the blame on the Government, accusing it of "not only writing off this generation, but risking holding back future generations that are now growing up in workless households".
Ministers claim that the high number of people on welfare is a legacy from the last Labour government, and they point to their attempts to reform benefits, including a new multimillion pound "youth contract" which are aimed at encouraging companies to take on young people.
People on Employment Support Allowance, which replaced Incapacity Benefit, are also being re-tested, while the coalition's single universal credit, to be tested in Bath & North East Somerset, aims to ensure nobody is better off on benefits than they would be if they chose to work.
Employment Minister Mark Hoban said: "The national figures were encouraging, with a fall in both the proportion of workless households and in the proportion of children that live in a house where no one works.
"However, in many areas, worklessness remains a substantial challenge. That is why we are taking action to ensure that those living in workless households and their children are given the right opportunities and support to succeed."