Workless household fears rise

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WIGAN has the second highest number of workless households in the region, sparking fears of an increasingly poverty-stricken borough.

New figures released by the Office of National Statistics show that between January and December 2011, 22,000 Wigan households (30,000 people) have no earning income coming in. That’s 20.2 per cent of the borough’s population.

The total of workless families has risen over the last two years, with 21,000 in 2009 and 20,000 in 2010, but the number of out-of-work people remained at 29,000 during the same period.

In comparison with the rest of Greater Manchester, Wigan scored the second highest behind Manchester, with 58,000 workless households. Bury was the best in terms of employment, with only 11,000 families out of work.

One of the major concerns in terms of unemployment in families is the impact on children. Wigan is mid-table on this issue and the number of youngsters in workless households fell from 13,000 (22.8 per cent) in 2010, to 9,000 last year (16.7 per cent).

But there is some good news, as last year, there were 59,000 working households (where all working age adults have a job), which equates to 54.9 per cent and this figure has risen from 53,000 (50.4 per cent) in 2009. Around 27,000 households have a mixture of both working and unemployed adults.

In recent months, Wigan Council has vowed to tackle the growing issue and increase employment potential.

It has worked with the School for Social Entrepreneurs North West to nurture entrepreneurial ability; used funds from North West Coalfield Communities Regeneration Programme to support businesses and at the beginning of the year launched a scheme to find 100 apprentices in 100 days,

Coun David Molyneux, cabinet lead for the economy at Wigan Council, said: “Unemployment and worklessness are personal tragedies for individuals, their families and indeed for our local economy.

“We are working hard to address this and we are seeing the results making a real difference to people which is significantly better than many other areas.”

Unemployment in Wigan is continuing to yo-yo at present. After several months of decreasing, the July and August saw the number of folk claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance rise again.