Relocating jobless with new homes 'impractical'

Proposals to encourage the long-term jobless to move around the country in the search for work by promising them new homes have been dismissed as impractical and a return to the Thatcherite 1980s.

Under the Government's plans, people in unemployment blackspots would be guaranteed to go to the top of housing waiting lists if they relocated to more prosperous areas to find jobs.

Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, explained that he wanted to help people break out of "ghettos of poverty" by making the British workforce more mobile.

He claimed that many unemployed people were hampered from moving for fear of not being able to find a home in a different part of the country. But the housing charity, Shelter, said the scheme was impractical because Britain had record waiting lists for social housing and pointed out that housing shortages were even worse in areas with higher employment rates.

Mr Duncan Smith, whose comments echo Norman Tebbit's call in 1981 for the unemployed to "get on your bike" and find work, argued yesterday that the jobless were often trapped in their home towns.

"In the UK today, under the last government, we have created almost ghettos of poverty where people are static, unable to get work because there isn't any work there, unable therefore to get to work because the wages aren't high enough, so they can't get there and they are stuck," he told Sky News.

"You have got two and three generations of people, unemployed, in households and while there has been more work created over the last 15 years, actually most of that has gone to households that already have work."

The Government has provided few details of the proposals, apart from suggesting that jobseekers from one part of the country would be fast-tracked to the top of the housing list in another if they moved for work.

It was not clear how ministers envisage forcing councils to allow newcomers to leap housing queues.

Mr Duncan Smith has also indicated that he is considering changing the rules to require single people living in houses too big for them to swap accommodation with families.

Campbell Robb, Shelter's chief executive, agreed it should be easier for social housing tenants to move to find work. But he added: "With 1.8 million households currently on council housing waiting lists, the top priority must be to deliver the social rented homes this country so desperately needs."

Two Labour leadership contenders yesterday condemned Mr Duncan Smith's plans. Ed Miliband, the former energy and climate change secretary, said: "What he is saying to whole parts of the country is: 'We have no hope as a government of getting work into your area so you are going to have to move out of your communities.' That is frankly disgraceful."

Ed Balls, the former schools secretary, said: "This is back to the 1980s – it's this idea that somehow the only solution to unemployment is to cut benefits and say to people 'go and do it for yourself' and we know this just doesn't work."

But Chancellor George Osborne, speaking at the G20 summit in Toronto, said: "What Iain Duncan Smith has said is a very sensible thing which is that we want to help people in social housing be able to move. That is one of the important social reforms that I think we need to see in this country...

"We want to give people freedom of choice and we want to give that freedom of choice to people in social housing just as people in private rented housing or who own their own home have.

"It is about encouraging social mobility ... giving people on lower incomes in our society the kind of opportunities and aspirations that other people in our society take for granted."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers