Latest figures show that three million people have not had a job since before 1996, and a further two million people in England and Wales have never had a job at all.
The figures will be highlighted by Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Theresa May in a speech on Thursday.
May will argue that far from being a product of the recent recession, the clear majority of the people without work were already on benefits before the recession began. “These are people that have been hidden away by Labour for the past ten years”, she will say.
Describing the “steady growth in welfare ghettos”, she will say that unemployment didn’t somehow disappear during the ‘boom years’, but that “it was merely disguised, renamed, and hidden away in ever growing pockets of poverty”.
“Labour’s failure to reform our welfare state in the good times has lead to a huge social and economic cost. They have slowly built a wall between the working and the workless, hoping to keep their failures out of sight.”