The Office of National Statistics report published yesterday referred to a very disturbing record high number of people of working age, 8.16 million, who are 'economically inactive'.

This is a very clinical and sterile term for people who want or should be in employment.

To say they are 'economically inactive' is a total misstatement of the true position. These people are not mothballed and packed away in storage to be used when things get better. They are human beings with needs, wants and dreams.

They need to eat, pay their water bills, pay their council tax, pay for heating fuel and the list goes in. If you take the old age pension as a rough measure then at the very, very least each of these people needs at least £100 per week. Whether they appear on the Job Seekers' Allowance (JSA) list or not is immaterial. They may well be claiming other benefits or, more worrying, have no visible means of support other than debt, charity, depletion of savings or maybe sale if the house before it is wrenched from them.

At £100 a week then the bill directly or indirectly on the rest of us could amount to £816 million a week. The bill is almost certainly of a much greater magnitude.

One of government's main objectives is full employment. It should be a solid mix of wealth makers and public service providers. We must remember that anyone working in public services, however key, costs those in wealth creation to employ. But the only job creator at present is the public sector, which took on another 22,000 people. The government may be 'cautiously optimistic' about the recovery but why did the Job Centres take on another 2,250 workers in the last 3 months? This cannot continue for much longer.

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