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Iain Duncan Smith wants to help council tenants escape jobless cities

Screen shot 2010-06-27 at 08.19.06 The Sunday Telegraph chooses a sensationalist headline for its interview with the Work & Pensions Secretary - and Ed Balls is already in full attack mode - but the suggestions put forward by Iain Duncan Smith are eminently sensible. Mr Duncan Smith is not ordering people to up sticks and move across the country and find work. He is proposing help for those who want to do so.

Through his work at the think tank he founded - the Centre for Social Justice - he has long been concerned at the barriers that discourage able-bodied people from taking paid work. Top of that list of barriers is the benefits system that presents the low-paid with terrible marginal rates of tax plus benefit withdrawal. Then comes the issue of housing. Social tenants are unwilling to move to parts of the country with much better job opportunities because they lose their home. Mr Duncan Smith wants such council tenants to move to the top of the housing list in the hi-employment area as part of what Grant Shapps called a right-to-move.

In her regular column, Janet Daley backs IDS' vision:

"We have large swaths of unemployed people tied like serfs to the land, in workless communities, doomed to a hopeless future in which no one in their everyday acquaintance is in paid employment... Mr Duncan Smith speaks of introducing mechanisms for “portability” and “flexibility” in housing provision, which is another way of saying that we must create routes for people to escape from the monolithic state solution in which they are imprisoned. The council estate is a way of encasing people in a bricks-and-mortar embodiment of government policy, but benefit dependency is a more all-encompassing form of incarceration from which it can be virtually impossible to break free."

Tim Montgomerie

1.45pm BBC video report:


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