The UK unemployment map, courtesy of MoneyWeek magazine. Scroll down for a larger map.
THE ISLAND is now up there alongside Liverpool, Middlesborough and South Wales as one of Britain’s worst unemployment blackspots, according to latest government statistics.
More than one in four Island households — 27 per cent — have no one aged 16 to 64 in work, compared with the British average of 18.7 per cent.
Employment minister Chris Grayling told the County Press: "The figure for the Isle of Wight is a further indictment of how the current system is failing families and it is a shocking reflection of the scale of worklessness across the UK.
"This will not continue. Our reform of the benefit system will make work pay and bring an end to the cycle of welfare dependency."
The Island is in the same banding as parts of Merseyside, South Wales, the North East and the Midlands, and was worse off than Sunderland, Salford and the majority of London’s inner city areas.
It was only marginally better than that of some of the country’s hardest-hit areas, according to latest figures for 2009 published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The finding stunned Kevin Smith, chief executive of the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce.
He said: "I’m shocked. It emphasises the disparity of the Isle of Wight to the rest of Southern England, not just the South East."
He added that the Island’s economic indicators should not be included in with Hampshire and the South East as this made economic statistics look better than they were
"The Island’s economy requires government support to level the playing field to boost its economic development."
Island unemployment rose by 4.6 per cent in October, with 2,824 claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance and thousands more on other benefits, including disability allowance.
MP Andrew Turner said: "I am very surprised by the figure, particularly as other ONS figures indicate that 12.6 per cent of working-age Islanders are claiming out of work benefits."
He said he would ask the ONS for an explanation about the difference in the figures.
Cllr George Brown, the Isle of Wight Council’s cabinet member for economy and tourism, said: "We know we have an unemployment problem and our concern is with trying to get the economy moving. Job creation is a very high priority but is mighty difficult to turn on."
|The UK unemployment map, courtesy of MoneyWeek magazine.