Almost four million UK households have no adults in work after a huge increase over the past year, official figures showed today.
The Government said the fact that no one worked in almost one out of five households was a "shocking reflection" of the scale of the problem it had inherited.
A report by the Office for National Statistics also showed that 1.9 million children lived in workless households.
The ONS said there were a total of 3.9 million UK households where no adults worked, an increase of 148,000 on last year.
The North East has the highest percentage of workless households at one in four, followed by inner London and Wales at 22.9%. The South East has the lowest number of homes where no-one works at 14.2%.
Employment Minister Chris Grayling said: "These figures are a further indictment of how the current system is failing families and is a shocking reflection of the scale of worklessness across the UK that this Government has inherited.
"Some areas of Britain are suffering from intergenerational worklessness, which is why we must act now to ensure that children living in workless households are not left behind like their parents have been.
"This is why we are pushing ahead with our Work Programme, which will give people who are out of work and need a job the right support at the right time so that they can get into employment."
The Work Programme will offer personalised support to people on a range of benefits, including Jobseeker's Allowance, Income Support, Incapacity Benefits and Employment and Support Allowance.
The report showed that lone parent households with dependent children had the highest percentage of workless households at 39.7%, followed by one-person households at 36.8%.
A spokesman for youth charity the Prince's Trust said: "The UK has the highest number of children growing up in workless families in the whole of the EU. These vulnerable young people are significantly more likely to struggle to find work themselves, with many expecting to join their parents in the dole queue.
"We know that the downward spiral of unemployment can lead to crime, homelessness, or worse. Only by giving these young people the right support and role models will we break this cycle of worklessness."