COLCHESTER has the second highest number of people who don’t work and are not looking for work in the east of England.

Only Luton has more people who have not got a job and do not want one, according to new Government figures.

Nick Barlow, councillor responsible for commerce and sustainability on Colchester Council, is not concerned about the figure and instead focused on the fact Colchester has its highest percentage of people in employment since 2004.

In the town there are 27,700 people classed as economically inactive.

Only 5,100 of these want a job – lower than the eastern region and national average.

A total of 22,600 don’t want one, which is far higher than the eastern and national average.

Mr Barlow pointed to Colchester having 72.9 per cent of its working age population in employment.

He said: “It is one per cent below average for the east, but our highest since 2004.

“The local economy has been quite resilient and we have a lot of small businesses working well.

“Generally, Colchester has done very well and more jobs have been created in the town.”

Alf Mullins, who runs Greenstead-based employment support centre, Signpost, said the high rate of economically inactive in Colchester was no bad thing.

He said those not wanting a job were primarily made up of those who could afford not to have one and not claim benefits.

He added: “Every benefit claim rate is lower than the east of England average.

“The figure is probably people not claiming benefits, such as housewives, parents and those who have retired early.”

Mr Mullins also welcomed the higher employment rate. He said: “More people in work is always a good thing and getting people back into work quickly is one of our aims.”