By DAVID WOODING
SOME people have never done an honest day’s work in their life.
It’s a phrase that trips off the tongue all too easily.
But for nearly four million people, it’s a stark reality.
One in nine work-age people have no idea what it is like to start a job – never mind get the sack.
While many who are disabled, carers or genuinely can’t find work, there is an increasing stubborn hardcore who are content to live a life on benefits.
We used to be famous for the Great British worker. Now we are seeing the rise of the Great British shirker.
Statistics released by the Office for National statistics this week will incense those who work long hours and struggle to make ends meet.
At least 200,000 over-65s admit they dodged doing any paid work right up to retirement.
More alarmingly, a third of the four million who have been economically inactive all their “working” lives are aged 18 to 24.
Studies show that those who don’t work by their mid-20s are unlikely ever to get a job.
David Cameron said only this week that too many kids want to be footballers or singing stars.
But why should those who can be bothered to get up in the morning be forced to pay for pop idles?
We need doctors, nurses, teachers, car mechanics and road gritters, too. Most of all we need to rediscover the work ethic.
That’s why Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith must press ahead with his reform of our cushy benefits system. More is needed to make it worth people’s while to work, too.
It may be too late for a lost generation of couch potatoes happy to live on state handouts and channel surf reality shows.
But our kids are the future – and they need hope.
The government can help with proper apprenticeships, paid internships and by driving up school standards.
And by ensuring that work always pays.