MORE than 65,000 homes across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are lived in by people who don’t work, new figures have revealed.

The startling numbers have gone up overall in the past 12 months – prompting a warning of households spiralling into poverty and children growing up without a role model for later life.

In Southampton alone, there were 5,568 children growing up in workless households in 2011, the Office for National Statistics said.

That’s a reduction on last year, when 7,000 of the city’s children were recorded as living in homes with no working adults.

Although the numbers have dropped in the city since 2010, across the entire area it has increased from 63,879 to 65,182.

One of the sharpest rises was in Test Valley where figures rose from 1,864 to 4,445. More than a quarter of Isle of Wight households were also classed as “workless”, and over 17 per cent in Southampton.

Fareham MP Mark Hoban , the new Employment Minister, said nationally the picture was “encouraging” as figures fell overall, but admitted it was still a “substantial challenge” to cut the numbers.

But Southampton Itchen Labour MP John Denham said: “It’s clearly a major issue for the families and for taxpayers.”

He called on the Government to provide a jobs guarantee for young people, pointing to a rise in the use of food banks across the country as a result of families sliding into poverty.

He added: “Children growing up in families where nobody works are themselves much more likely to do badly at school and become long-term unemployed.

It’s pretty important, if possible, for one or both parents to be going out to work so children have a role model for how life works.”

Ministers claim the high numbers of people on welfare is a legacy from the Labour government, and point to their attempts to reform benefits, including a new multi-million pound “youth contract”

aimed at encouraging companies to take on young people.

Mr Hoban said: “The national figures were encouraging with a fall in both the proportion of workless households and in the proportion of children that live in a house where no one works.

“However, in many areas worklessness remains a substantial challenge.”

Workless households are defined as those which include at least one person of working age (16-64) where no one is in work.

Nationally, five million people aged 16-64 live in workless households and 1.8 million children.