One in five homes 'workless' in parts of the Westcountry
One-in-five homes in parts of the Westcountry have no-one with a job, stark official figures have revealed.
Torbay appears to have been the worst victim of the recession in Devon and Cornwall, with 20.6% of households deemed "workless", according to the Office for National Statistics.
Some 19% of homes in both Plymouth and Cornwall with adults below pension age had no-one with a job last year. In the Devon county area, the rate was 15.7%.
But while the numbers paint a grim picture of the jobs market in the Westcountry, they appear to be improving modestly. The figure for all four areas was lower than a year earlier and below the post-recession peak.
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In Torbay, 25.2% of homes were workless in 2010, and Plymouth's rate hit 21.6% a year earlier. Cornwall was as high as 22.1% in 2010 and Devon peaked at 18.5 in the same year.
Some parts of the region have the lowest rates of household worklessness in the country. In Exeter, just 8.7% of homes have no-one in employment and the rate is 9.6% in Mid Devon.
Nationally, worklessness was highest in Glasgow (30.2%), Liverpool (28.7%) and Hull (27.6%).
Overall, 28% of people in jobless households said they were out of work because they were sick or disabled.
Some 20% were unemployed, 18% had retired early, 16% were looking after their family or home and 13% were studying.
However, there are a greater proportion of early retirees in the South West than nationally, underlining how the region is a magnet for people when they quit work.
Some 24% of "workless" homes in South West attribute their status to retirement – the highest of any region in the UK. By contrast, the figure is just 11.4% in London.
The ONS said: "The South West and East of England had the highest percentage of people aged 16 to 64 in workless households giving retirement as their reason for not working. This is partly explained by both regions having a slightly higher than average age demographic."
Employment minister Mark Hoban said: "Nationally, the number of workless households has fallen by more than 425,000 since the Coalition took office.
"This is good news, but we know there are areas of the country where we need to do more.
"Helping people off benefits and into work is one of this Government's top priorities.
"By reforming the welfare system to ensure that people are better off in work than on benefits, and through schemes such as the Work Programme where support can be tailored to meet local need, we are helping people across the country to get a job and fulfil their aspirations of looking after themselves and their families."