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Thousands of workless homes in Fenland with sickness and disability blamed

About 4,200 households in Fenland have no working occupants, according to official figures.

Data from the Office of National Statistics show that 14 per cent of the area's households were workless last year, slightly lower than the UK-wide average of 14 per cent.

Across the East of England, this figure was 12 per cent.

Thousands of workless households in Fenland.
Thousands of workless households in Fenland.

The ONS classes households as workless if no one aged 16 and over living there is employed.

While figures were not broken down locally, the most common reason people gave for not being in employment across the East of England was sickness or disability – cited by 31 per cent of those out of work.

Early retirees made up 22 per cent of jobless people, and students 7 per cent.

Only 12 per cent of the group were officially unemployed, or looking for work and able to start within two weeks.

According to the Department for Work and Pensions, the number of workless households has fallen in all parts of the UK since 2010, with more than 1 million households with at least one adult in work.

A spokeswoman said: "We are committed to ensuring this trend continues by supporting people, especially parents, into work by providing personalised support through our jobcentres and under the new benefits system parents can claim up to 85 per cent of childcare costs."

But this has masked an "explosion" of insecure work pushing people into the red, said Trades Union Congress general secretary Frances O’Grady.

She said: "Any drop in unemployment is good, but it's not right that millions of hard-working people across Britain are struggling to make ends meet.

"And if the Government presses ahead it with its threat of a no-deal Brexit this will only get worse."

Unions were key to negotiating better conditions and pay in the workplace, Ms O'Grady added.

Mike Hawking, policy and partnerships manager at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, welcomed the rising employment rates, but cautioned that more working families were being "trapped in poverty".

He said: “Low pay, low skills and a lack of good jobs in large parts of the country are holding people back from a decent life.

"People on low incomes are frustrated at the lack of action to improve their living standards and are demanding change."

Mr Hawking called on policymakers to "right this wrong" through social security reform and investing in overlooked towns and cities.

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