More than one in five households in South Tyneside are out of work, according to national statistics – a rate higher than the national average.
Figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) estimate that last year there were around 11,000 workless households in the area.
According to the ONS, a household is defined as workless if every person aged from 16-64 in the house is not in employment at the time of the annual population survey.
In the North East, 20% of households were out of work, and across the UK the figure falls to 15%.
Across the North East, the most common reason people gave for not being in work was being sick or disabled – 35% of out-of-work individuals cited illness or disability as the primary reason for not working.
Students made up 12% of the group, and 15% were early retirees. Just 14% of jobless people in the area were officially ‘unemployed’ – looking for work and able to start within two weeks.
A spokesperson from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) 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.
Head of Economics at the Trade Union Congress (TUC) 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 published in May, nearly four million UK workers are in insecure work, such as agency work, zero-hour contracts and low-paid self-employment – amounting to over 10% of the workforce.
“Behind the headlines about record employment rates, there are major problems of low pay, insecure work and in-work poverty,” Ms Bell added.
David Leese, policy analysis manager at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) 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% of children are growing up in poverty, compared to only 5% 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.”
According to disability charity Scope, disabled people also struggle to find and stay in work.
A 2017 survey of 2,000 disabled adults, commissioned by Scope, 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.
The spokesperson said: “Our Access to Work grants can provide up to £57,200 of practical support a year.
“Our Work and Health Programme can also help disabled people find and keep a job if they’re out of work.”
Scope spokesperson Minesh Patel said: “We’re seeing disabled people spending a long time out of work, or periods dropping in and out of work.
“The government needs to test, trial and roll out greater provision and tailored support for the one million disabled people who can and want to work.”