More households have no earners

A QUARTER of households in Suffolk have nobody in full time employment, The Evening Star can reveal.A total of 50,000 households have no earners - a figure which came to light following a parliamentary question tabled by Richard Spring, Tory MP for West Suffolk.

A QUARTER of households in Suffolk have nobody in full time employment, The Evening Star can reveal.

A total of 50,000 households have no earners - a figure which came to light following a parliamentary question tabled by Richard Spring, Tory MP for West Suffolk.

Suffolk - and East Anglia as a whole - is an area of the country which is popular with retired people and has above-average numbers of pensioners.

Mr Spring said the statistic, a 14,000 increase on the 2003 figure of 36,000, shows that although employment figures are on the increase, the number of people not earning a wage is also soaring.

He said: “Part of government policy has been this desire to make work the gateway from welfare towards being able to sustain a family independently but this suggests that underneath the surface there is a different story to tell.

“People are very financially stretched at the moment with record fuel prices, the cost of food in shops going up, council tax going up and people are very squeezed.

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“There are a surprising number of people not working and therefore the pressure is even greater.

“These figures bear out the view that there is much more disguised unemployment in the county than we think.”

Chris Mole, Labour MP for Ipswich, pointed to figures showing unemployment in Ipswich is actually falling with 1,854 unemployed claimants in the Ipswich constituency in April 2008 compared with 2,969 in April 1997, a reduction of 38 per cent.

The figure is also a reduction of five pc on the previous year.

He said: “If you look nationally there are three million more jobs in the economy and the numbers claiming job seekers' allowance, the principle unemployment benefit, have continued to come down.

“If Mr Spring's figures suggest a possible increase in economic inactivity it would be more likely to be through early retirement than anything else.”

Mr Mole added that government initiatives to get more people off incapacity benefit and back into work are starting to bear fruit although he did concede there are challenging times ahead.

Are you concerned about the possibility of rising unemployment? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk