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Will Labour offer policy substance on tackling Council estate worklessness?

There is something familiar about the report that Ed Miliband will give a speech today saying that council housing should not reward worklessness.

In her speech to the Fabian Society in 2008, the then Housing Minister Caroline Flint asked:

So should existing tenants who need to move for work be given higher priority on waiting lists?

Could new tenants who can work sign commitment contracts when getting a tenancy, agreeing to actively seek work alongside better support?

How can we expand existing schemes to offer those tenants in work who can't afford to buy their own home more opportunity to buy a share?

How can we improve the links between housing services and employment services?

And how do we continue to give tenants a stronger voice to improve services and drive up standards?

Nothing ever came of these "commitment contracts". It was difficult to see what legal force they would have had. She was only Housing Minister for eight months anyway.

At the time the trade unions denounced the idea. The general secretary of the TUC, Brendan Barber, said:

"The right to a home is a fundamental right that should not be linked to employment status."

Do the Labour leader Ed Miliband is reheating some Flint's rhetoric. Will it have any policy substance? Or will it prove just a gimmick to shift attention from his woes?

For Conservatives, both nationallly and locally - as shown for instance by the post on this site last month from the new Wandsworth Council leader - tackling worklessness is a genuine priority not a sop to focus groups.


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