Two in five people from Portsmouth, Fareham, Gosport and Havant were 'economically inactive' at time of last census

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Two in five residents from our region were ‘economically inactive’ in 2021, new census figures show.

The Resolution Foundation said rising numbers of people in economic inactivity must be addressed as chancellor Jeremy Hunt aimed to get people back to work with his spring budget.

Census figures from the Office for National Statistics show 65,440 residents in Portsmouth were economically inactive between March 15 and 22, 2021.

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An economically inactive person is aged 16 and over and did not have a job in that time period, could not start work in the next two weeks, or had not looked for work in the month before.

Two in five people in the Portsmouth region were 'economically inactive' according to data from the 2021 CensusTwo in five people in the Portsmouth region were 'economically inactive' according to data from the 2021 Census
Two in five people in the Portsmouth region were 'economically inactive' according to data from the 2021 Census

It meant 38.3 per cent of over-16s in the area were economically inactive.

Comparable figures for other areas are 26,645 residents or 39.6 per cent in Gosport; 37,945 or 39.7 per cent in Fareham, and 43,515 or 42.3 per cent in Havant.

Across England and Wales, 19.1m over-16s (39.4 per cent) were economically inactive.

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The highest proportions tended to be in coastal areas, such as East Lindsey in Lincolnshire, North Norfolk and Tendring in Essex, all of which had more economically inactive than active residents.

Meanwhile, the six most active areas were all in London, and every area in the top 20 was in London or the South East, bar commuter town Watford.

Louise Murphy, economist at the Resolution Foundation, said: ‘Levels of inactivity vary significantly across the UK, and tend to be highest in places where the population is older, and where long-term illness is widespread, such as deprived, ex-industrial areas.

‘Economic inactivity is also concentred in low-income households. One-in-three adults in the poorest tenth of households have a disability, compared to fewer than one-in-ten adults among the richest families.

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‘The right approach to boosting workforce participation should therefore focus both on tackling place-based inequalities, as well as raising living standards for the poorest families.’

Those with long-term sickness or disability accounted for about 10 per cent of the total, while retirement accounted for between 44 per cent in Portsmouth and 74 per cent in Fareham.

Amanda Walters, director of the Safe Sick Pay campaign, highlighted rising numbers of people not working due to long-term sickness or disability.

‘Help from the government to support these people back into work will be very welcome, but people fear what happens if they get ill again,’ she added. ‘The “back to work” budget had the right focus, but it was an own goal from the chancellor not to make sick pay available for everyone from the first day of illness.’

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Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said his budget would deliver growth by ‘removing obstacles that stop businesses investing, tackling labour shortages that stop them recruiting, and by breaking down barriers that stop people working.’

Mr Hunt added that he will encourage the long-term sick and disabled into work, including announcing the Universal Support programme – a voluntary employment scheme for disabled people where the Government will spend up to £4,000 per person to help them find appropriate jobs.

Schemes to encourage young carers, older people nearing retirement and parents – including 30 hours of free weekly childcare for all under-fives – to work were also introduced.