One in six Wigan households is out of work, a shock new report reveals.
Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures show that last year there were no fewer than 15,000 homes in the borough occupied by people aged 16 to 64 where no-one earns a living.
That’s 17 per cent of all homes being workless - similar to the regional average but higher than the national one of 15 per cent.
Regionally, the most common reason people gave for not being in work was being sick or disabled - 36 per cent of out-of-work individuals cited illness or disability as the primary reason for not working.
Students made up 10 per cent of the group, and 17 per cent were early retirees. Just 12 per cent of jobless people in the area were officially “unemployed” - looking for work and able to start within two weeks.
A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spokesman said: “Since 2010 the proportion of workless households is down in every region of Great Britain.
“The unemployment rate remains at its lowest since 1971, but we’re committed to ensuring that everyone who wants to work has the opportunity to do so - while making sure there is a safety net for those who can’t.”
The DWP has also said that the majority of employment growth has been in both full-time and permanent roles - but experts are still concerned about improving job security.
TUC head of economics Kate Bell said: “Some of these officially ‘workless’ households are actually stuck in a revolving door between short-term, insecure jobs and periods without any work.”
According to TUC research, nearly four million UK workers are in insecure work, such as agency work, zero-hour contracts and low-paid self-employment.
David Leese, policy analysis manager at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said that workless families in particular are at a much higher risk of poverty.
Figures from the DWP for 2016-17 show that in workless households almost 75 per cent of children are growing up in poverty, compared to only five per cent of children with two working parents.
“If a child lives in poverty, it affects their health, their education, their family relationships and their plans for the future,” Mr Leese said. “It’s not right that any child lives in such insecure circumstances.
“Stable and secure work is crucial for these families - as is low cost housing and a social security system which provides an anchor against poverty when it is needed.”
Disability charity Scope says disabled people also struggle to find and stay in work. A 2017 survey found that disabled jobseekers apply for more jobs and are offered fewer interviews than non-disabled applicants.
The DWP said that it has a range of support available to help disabled people get into work.