Two Derbyshire districts report thousands of economically inactive people - 100 per cent of whom say they do not want to find work

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As the Government looks to reform welfare criteria to push more people into seeking work, the latest official figures on Britain’s labour market have revealed that two Derbyshire districts rank among 15 nationwide where none of the currently inactive working age people say they are interested in finding a job.

The quarterly labour market overview bulletin published by the Office for National Statistics on Tuesday, December 12, reports that the national economic inactivity rate for those aged 16 to 64 was largely unchanged at 20.9 per cent for the period between September and November.

The figures follow last month’s announcement by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt that the Government is looking to change the Work Capability Assessment process to determine people’s eligibility for certain benefits – a process already considered too punitive by many organisations representing disabled people and other marginalised groups.

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In a joint letter to the Government, charity executives said there was an “overwhelming consensus was that these changes would be highly damaging.”

Statistics show Derbyshire is home to thousands of people unwilling or unable to seek work. (Photo: John Devlin/National World)Statistics show Derbyshire is home to thousands of people unwilling or unable to seek work. (Photo: John Devlin/National World)
Statistics show Derbyshire is home to thousands of people unwilling or unable to seek work. (Photo: John Devlin/National World)

They added: “The decision that this will apply only to claimants newly undergoing a Work Capability Assessment is of no comfort to people who will develop severe difficulties with mobilising or getting about in the future, nor those who, in the future, are at substantial risk of self-harm, suicide, or harm to those around them but are nonetheless forced to undertake work-related activity.

“Trust between the Department [for Work and Pensions] and disabled people and people with serious health conditions is extremely low, and this exercise will do nothing to rectify that.”

While the latest local-level figures relate to the earlier period of June 2022 to July 2023, today’s figures add context to an interesting headline figure from the Derbyshire Dales and Bolsover, where 100 per cent of ‘inactive’ working age people said they were not interested in joining the workforce.

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10,900 (26.2 per cent) of working age Dales residents were recorded as inactive and in Bolsover 7,900 (15.2%) fell in the same category.

The district with the highest proportion of economically inactive residents was Chesterfield, at 29.3 per cent, but of those only 88.9 per cent were not interested in joining the workforce.

Of the 22 per cent of working age people inactive across the East Midlands, 86.1 per cent said they did not want to look for work – which was higher than the equivalent national figure of 82.4 per cent.

The definition of inactivity encompasses students, homemakers and family carers, the sick and retired but at a district level the sample sizes for each group are considered too small to produce reliable statistics explaining people’s reasons for not seeking work.

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The latest figures for Derbyshire Dales however show that in November 2023 just 760 people were meeting the jobseekers’ eligibility criteria to claim Universal Credit, suggesting that most of those classed as inactive were in circumstances that did not allow for, or require, taking on paid work at that time.

In Bolsover, 1,615 people were claiming Universal Credit last month. Though the statistical sources mean they are not directly comparable that would represent 20 per cent of those classed as inactive, as opposed to 6.9 per cent in the Dales. In both districts, the largest number of Universal Credit claimants were in the age bracket 25-49.

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