ALMOST one third of Bolton’s working age population are “economically inactive”, a new report has revealed.

And more than 80 per cent of those have admitted they do not want a job.

In October, the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in Bolton fell by 127 to 8,419. From the total number of claimants, 5,592 are men and 2,827 are women. The figures have been released as part of Bolton Council’s Health and Wellbeing Strategy, which sets out the key health priorities for the borough over the next three years.

The report says being out of work leads to poor health and has a “significant negative psychological impact”, and reveals 49,600 people in Bolton—29.5 per cent of the borough’s working age population — are “economically inactive”.

The term covers a broad range of people, from stay-at-home parents, unpaid carers, students, long and short-term sick, early retirees and the “discouraged unemployed” — people who have simply stopped looking for work.

The overall figure is higher than both the North West and national averages.

The government claims the figure includes people who have been “abandoned to live on a life of benefits” and says it is changing the system.

Cllr Andy Morgan, who sits on Bolton Council's Health, Overview and Scrutiny committee and is Bolton Conservatives’ deputy leader and health spokesman, said: “Not working shouldn’t be a lifestyle choice, where you’ve got people doing no work while others are going out for 40 or 45 hours a week.”

Barry Lyon, chief executive of Bolton Citizens Advice Bureau, added: “You have to look at the full picture and realise that 30- odd thousand of these will be long-term sick and carers.

“With the discouraged unemployed, there’s not enough investment into getting people into a situation where they can get real jobs. We need to break that cycle.”

Bolton Council leader Cliff Morris said: “My view is if they can work they should, but what about carers, are they not working?

They probably work harder than anyone out there and we have a responsibility to these people. I agree working is important to mental and physical health but as a long as there are jobs out there, there aren’t any at the moment.”

The Health and Wellbeing Strategy for Bolton was adopted yesterday.