Shelter and other charities have condemned housing minister Caroline Flint for her proposal for unemployed social housing tenants who do not seek work to face eviction.
Flint, a former welfare reform minister who took the housing brief last month, told The Guardian today all new unemployed tenants should sign “commitment contracts”, promising to actively seek work as a condition of their tenancy.
She said she was concerned about figures showing that over half of working-age adults living in social housing were without paid work – twice the national average. Flint said there was evidence such concentrated unemployment deterred people from seeking work.
Return to the workhouse
However, Shelter chief executive Adam Sampson said: “It would mean a return to the workhouse, the destruction of families and communities and would add to the thousands who are already homeless.”
He said people who lacked an address would find it even harder to find work and said the solution lay in more support for tenants to access training and worthwhile jobs.
Kate Green, chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, said: “Communities with a high concentration of worklessness result from poor planning that concentrates social housing. Years of expert warnings have recommended housing developments should be mixed and it’s time the minister dusted the cobwebs off these reports instead of chasing headlines.”
Policy is unenforceable
Meanwhile, David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: “Such a policy would be unfair and impossible to enforce. Many of the jobs open to people, especially at the lower skills end, are insecure or temporary. Also, people with health problems, such as mental health issues may find there are periods when they cannot keep up their job.”
Caroline Flint said social housing tenants should have better access to job centres and that she wanted to make it easier for them to move tenancy to take a job.
- For more on this story and to have your say see Mike McNabb’s blog on the issue.