Jo Ind asks what keeps people on benefits and looks at how Birmingham is tackling the problem.
Scroungers - that is another term for the long-term unemployed.
People on welfare are the butt of tax-payers' indignation, the cause of moral outrage at having to work while others ride off their backs for free.
Earlier this month Conservative leader David Cameron announced what he considered tough vote-winning plans to get the long-term unemployed back into work.
Those who have been out of a job for two years or more would have to do unpaid community work or lose their work-related benefits. Anyone refusing three reasonable job offers would also lose out on their cash.
But why are people unemployed for years? What are the factors that keep people in a cycle of dependency?
The answer to that is as wide as the problem is large.
Traditionally governments have only been concerned with "unemployment". Now political parties are formulating policies to tackle the wider problem of "worklessness".
Unemployment is the narrower term, covering those who do not have a job and who are claiming Job Seekers Allowance.
Worklessness extends to those who are unemployed for other reasons, such as being sick or disabled, a lone parent or caring for someone. It covers those who are claiming Incapacity Benefit or Income Support as well as Job Seekers Allowance.
The difference between focusing on work-lessness rather than unemployment is hugely significant.
One look at the statistics makes the difference clear. Nationally unemployment stands at just over three per cent and worklessness is at little more than 14 per cent.
In Birmingham, the unemployment rate is just over eight per cent, whereas the work-lessness rate is a whopping 22 per cent.
In some of the city's inner city areas there has been worklessness in excess of 30 per cent for more than 20 years.
What's more inner city wards like Aston, Washwood Heath and Nechells are the highest in terms of unemployment, but if worklessness figures are taken into account some outer city wards are included as priorities - places like Kingstanding and Shard End.
Waheed Nazir, Birmingham's assistant director of development, planning and regeneration and corporate lead on worklessness, said: "We are no longer just concerned with people who do not have access to a job. We are looking at other barriers to work like disability and mental health.
"This calls for a more dynamic approach. Training people on a course for a new job is relatively easy to do. The mental health issue is a different challenge."
Some of the problems in Birmingham are due to the decline in manufacturing, which has traditionally been the industry of the West Midlands.
When MG Rover went into administration in April three years ago, almost 6,000 people lost their jobs. Of those a quarter were still unemployed two years later because the kind of skilled jobs in which they had worked all their lives were simply not there any more.
Michelle Dale, manager of Pertemps Employment Alliance's Newtown Advancement Centre, says that once people have been claiming benefits many adapt to their situation.
"There is a comfort zone," says Michelle, whose centre helps the jobless overcome obstacles to finding work. "People who have been unemployed for 15 or 20 years can just about manage on benefits and so they do."
Illiteracy is a further obstacle for some, not just because of the handicap it presents in itself, but because of the shame that goes with it.
"It can be a problem that's very well hidden," says Michelle. "People learn ways of covering it up and they are frightened of being found out. It's all about building up trust so you can find out what their problems really are. "
Debt is a major disincentive for many. People on benefit have to pay back debts at small rates like £2 or £3 per week. They get trapped by the fear that once they start earning money, they will have to pay off their debts at a higher rate and be significantly worse off. Once people are out of work for years, and even for generations, they get onto a downward spiral of difficulty.
The basic disciplines of work, like being punctual, have perhaps never been learnt.
Tasks that seem simple to people who are used to them, like catching a bus at a certain time, are challenges for people who have never done it.
Simon Topman, managing director of Acme Whistles, is delighted with the seven of his 52 members of staff who were long-term jobless before he employed them.
But he did have problems with one employee whose unemployment ran through three generations - both his father and his grandfather had never had a job.
In the end, he was sacked because he had little appetite for work.
Michelle says that even seemingly simple first steps, like talking to a career counsellor, can create anxiety as the unemployed person sometimes does not understand why notes of the meeting are being made.
"There's a bit of conspiracy theory stuff going on," says Michelle. "We show them the notes and check they agree with them. They are worried we are going to pass information on. It's all about building trust."
The long-term unemployed are vulnerable to mental health problems because of their desperate situation.
Dr David Fryer, psychologist at Stirling University, says every study on unemployment has shown it causes depression and anxiety.
"They are constructed as social pariahs, the twin pincer movement of stigma - poverty and exclusion and victim blaming of unemployed people - is problematic. It leads to psychotic distress."
Depression in its turn can make people vulnerable to drug and alcohol dependency, which underlines why it is so important for policy makers to consider worklessness as a whole rather than simply concentrating resources on those who are ready to work.
It could all add up to a depressing picture, but there are pioneering moves ahead.
Since it opened eight years ago, Newtown Development Centre has been offering services for the problems related to worklessness under one roof - childcare facilities, literacy courses, debt counselling and so on.
The city council is also taking a holistic approach to the way it provides services.
Earlier this year the Government announced Birmingham would receive £114 million over the next three years to tackle worklessness through its Working Neighbourhoods Fund. This will be allocated by Be Birmingham, a partnership of various organisations.
Within the next few months Birmingham City Council will be appointing its first Director of Employment, whose role will be to oversee and promote co-operation between the council, Job Centre Plus, the Learning and Skills Council and Birmingham Chamber of Commerce.
Michelle says a big problem for many long-term unemployed is that they do not like going outside their immediate area.
"It's about confidence," says Waheed. "Once they've got a job, it's different. They develop the confidence to travel outside their immediate area to work."
The city council therefore encourages investment in areas of high unemployment, so the jobs go to the people.
"It's about trying to connect the whole picture," says Waheed. "Now we have a coordinated strategy. There are exciting times ahead."
Anthony Givans, aged 51, was jobless for six years, despite re-training three times.
"It was desperate," he says of his time of unemployment. "It was very frustrating."
Anthony used to work in the Jewellery Quarter setting presses to make lockets, but he lost his job when the company relocated to Thailand.
While unemployed he did everything he could to find work. He expanded his welding skills by taking an NVQ in different types of welding. He went on painting and decorating courses and achieved NVQs at Levels 1 and 2 in them.
He re-trained in the skills needed to repair the rail tracks for Network Rail, but despite the fact that a job was prom-ised on completion of training, when he qualified, the work was not there.
Anthony's other problem was suffering discrimination due to a life-long speech impediment. He speaks clearly, but slowly.
"They discriminated against me," says Anthony. "Not because I'm black, but because of my speech.
"I didn't get a painting and decorating job. They knew I could do it, but they said 'if they give me a job, how will I get on with people?'
"It was frustrating after all that work. It took me 16 months to train. One of the things we had to do was a First Aid test. Out of 30 of us, only 12 passed because a lot of black men refused to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation with a dummy.
"I got my First Aid and I could do the job, but they couldn't see past my speech."
Despite the disappointments Anthony never gave up.
"I'm not a person to rely on Job
Seekers Allowance. I did have a job. I had worked as a welder for 16 years. I've got all that experience. Why should I sit at home waiting for my giro?"
Two years ago, Anthony was helped by Pertemps Employment Alliance to find work as a presser at Acme Whistles in Hockley, where he is very happy.
"If you don't get up and look for a job, you aren't going to achieve anything."
At the age of 31, Rachel Womack-Powell has barely had a job for more than a few weeks at a time.
She left school when she was pregnant with no qualifications and now has three sons, aged 14, 11 and 10. "It was horrible being unemployed," she said. "It's really depressing. It's hard when your school friends are talking about what they've done and all you can say is 'I'm a mum.' I know it's a hard job, but..."
One of Rachel's difficulties was being a single parent and finding work that would fit into their school hours.
Added to that, the work had be well-paid to make it financially worth her while as with three children, she was entitled to significant benefits.
"It was that depressing being at home all day looking at those four walls that I suffered from depression for about ten years," she says.
Over many years and with the help of organisations like the Prince's Trust and Pertemps Employment Alliance, Rachel managed to gather the qualifications she needed to turn her life round. Within a few weeks, she will be opening her own floristry, Lily the Pinks in Bartley Green. She began preparing for this six years ago, doing a book-keeping course, a computer course, getting her driving licence and then a B-tech in floristry from Solihull College.
When she started her floristy course she came off the medication because handling the flowers and using her mind remedied her depression.
"It's exciting," she says of her venture. "It's stressful, but it's good. Even if it fails, at least I've given it a go."