The amount of children living in long-term workless households has reached a five year high of 1.1m, ONS data has revealed

It is the highest number of children in jobless families since 2016. 

According to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), children who live in workless households are almost twice as likely to fail at all stages of their education.

South Tyneside is one of the areas with the highest number of workless households. 

Councillor Adam Ellison, lead member for children, young people and families, told The Drop: “In South Tyneside we are clear that any child living in poverty is one too many. 

“We are committed to doing absolutely everything we can to improve the lives of our children and young people.”

Photo by Chinh Le Duc on Unsplash

The number of workless households increased in 55% of the local areas in Great Britain between 2020 and 2021.

In the same period, there was a 1% increase in the number of children living in long-term workless households.

75% of children in workless families failed to reach the expected level at GCSE, compared to 52% in lower-income working families.

A workless household is a household which includes at least one person aged 16-64, with no-one in that age range in employment.

Of all children living in workless households, 86% lived in long-term workless households, with the highest percentage in the North East (16.8%) and the lowest in the South East (5.8%).

A long-term workless household is when an adult has not worked for at least 12 months.

Percentage of children living in long-term workless households by region (2021). Data source: ONS

The areas with the highest percentage of workless households between 2020 and 2021 included:

  • Glasgow City
  • Blaenau Gwent
  • South Tyneside

The areas with the lowest percentage included:

  • West Berkshire
  • Wokingham and Bath
  • North East Somerset

A Glasgow City Council spokeswoman said: “The council fully recognises the cost of living crisis facing Glasgow citizens and has invested in a range of initiatives that support those in need.  

“In Glasgow we have been helping families, who are eligible for free school meals, additional money over the last couple of years during holiday periods, as well as funding from the Scottish Government.  

“There is a wide range of positive action taking place in the city to help those who are struggling financially.”

“Unemployment is a complex issue and to tackle it we need a whole system approach.”

4.3 million children across the UK are living in poverty.

Zara Mehr-Khan, Chair of the British Youth Council, said: “The cost of living crisis will deepen child poverty if the government isn’t prepared to take radical steps to protect children and young people.

“Young people want to see further action on the cost of living crisis urgently, and rightly so. It is not acceptable that almost four million young people are already experiencing entrenched inequality, only made worse by the reported rise in so-called long-term ‘workless’ households.

“The government must take further steps to avoid any additional pressure on children and their families.”

Reasons for not working for people living in workless households (2021). Data source: ONS

The most common reason people gave for not working was sickness or disability, followed by early retirement and unemployment.

In 2017, a University College London study found that children from jobless households were more likely to experience poverty and be unemployed as adults.

A Government spokesperson for the DWP told The Drop: “We are committed to boosting the long-term employment prospects of non-working parents by paying up to 85% of childcare costs through Universal Credit. 

“Our network of Jobcentres also continues to help millions, including parents, to find jobs that suit them by accessing flexible opportunities, new sectors and higher-paid roles through job progression support.”