Ipswich: Nearly 7,500 children living in jobless homes, shock report reveals

Nick Hewer and Margaret Mountford outside Cornhill with participants in a new show about benefits.

Nick Hewer and Margaret Mountford outside Cornhill with participants in a new show about benefits. - Credit: Archant

Nearly 7,500 children in Ipswich are being brought up in households where no-one works, the Star can reveal today.

The grim statistics provide a stark background to the second part of tonight’s BBC1 programme with Apprentice stars Nick Hewer and Margaret Mountford looking at benefit claimants in the town.

The borough council’s “State of Ipswich” report revealed that 7,425 children are being brought up in 4,870 households across the town where no-one works – that is 8.24% of the housing stock.

The report also shows that 5,500 people in Ipswich have never worked or are long-term unemployed – that is 5.7% of the workforce and represents 29.1% of the Suffolk total.

The figures are underlined by a report from the Child Poverty Action Group which says that there are 6,501 children in Ipswich living below the poverty line, costing the public £71 million a year.

The shock figures come as Ipswich is under the national spotlight again tonight with the second part of the documentary series “We all pay your benefits”.

Last week’s first programme was widely praised as it focused on four people who are on benefits and paired them up with four people who work hard and pay taxes.

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This week the four benefit claimants will be joining the workers to test the world of work.

The programme went down well in Ipswich – most people who commented felt it portrayed a positive view of the town and was not wholly unsympathetic to the plight of those who relied on benefits.

However council leader and Labour candidate David Ellesmere said there were still major difficulties for people seeking work.

He said: “There are many more people who are looking for jobs than there are jobs available for them – and there does need to be help given to people who want to get back into work.”

Mr Ellesmere said that changes to tax credits brought in by the current government meant that for some people it was better to remain out of work rather than get a job that paid less than they would otherwise earn at home.

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said: “The first of those programmes was very fair. There is genuine irritation among people who work very hard and pay their taxes about those who just sit at home and live off benefits and I thought that came across.”

He said the government’s new universal benefit would ensure it was always better to work than sit at home.

“It is wrong to say that the changes are making it less worthwhile to go out to work,” he said.

“By changing the earnings limit, it will always be more worthwhile to work than it is to just stay at home.”

He said unemployment – and under-employment with many people only able to find part-time jobs – remained too high but the only way to tackle it was to encourage the creation of genuine jobs.