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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 February 2008, 18:35 GMT
'Work for home": for and against
Unemployed man
Should looking for work be a condition for social housing?
Housing minister Caroline Flint's has suggested that new tenants sign "commitment contracts" binding them to seek work in exchange for a council or housing association home.

Here, people who live on council estates or in social housing give their views for and against.

FOR: JOANNE TAPPIN, 40, WESTMINSTER

Some people don't want to work and want an easy life. That's not me.

I came off benefits and went out to work because I had two children to support and I couldn't stand the idea of sitting around all day at home staring at the walls.

But I can't find a permanent council house.

I've been living in temporary accommodation for the last five years. Because I have a job I'm penalised by having to pay the full rent - 800 a month. It means I can't save for a house deposit and it's very frustrating.

Meanwhile there are people without jobs in my same block who pay much less. Or nothing at all. My own family has said I should give up the job because I'd be better off on benefits - but I couldn't do that.

I think the contract idea is a good one. People who want to work should definitely be given an advantage over people who don't - maybe by giving them extra housing points.

AGAINST: JEREMY CULLEN, 59, CAMDEN

I'm definitely not in favour of this proposal - it's politicking at its lowest.

I've been a council tenant for 20 years, and while I think everyone who can work, should work, it is unfair to single out one group of people. I think the minister on this occasion is playing to people's worst failings.

WORK FOR HOME IDEAS
Caroline Flint
New tenants to sign "commitment contracts"
Training and employment opportunities offered to unemployed tenants
Would not affect the elderly or disabled who do not work
Would initially apply only to new not existing tenants

What should happen is that the government should make the benefit system work properly.

People should sign on and be interviewed and do what they did 30 years ago: if you refused that job you were removed from benefit. But it isn't fair to single out council tenants and make them sign an extra agreement that doesn't apply to anybody else.

The reason that the proportion of unemployed people living in council accommodation has gone up is that they have stopped building council housing.

That means that there are fewer properties available, and only the people with real problems can get into them. That is what has created ghettos with everyone crammed together.

FOR: JONATHAN, 49, LONDON

I bought my flat on a council estate 18 years ago.

Although I own my property, a lot of my neighbours are still tenants. I'm told that many of them are out of work. Certainly on my days off, I see a lot of them around the estate.

People on benefits get rent-free accommodation for years and years. They put nothing into the system and take everything out.

I don't think the idea behind the contracts goes far enough. They say it would only apply to new tenants, but I think it should apply to everybody: all council tenants should have to work.

What's unfair is all the people who do work, but who can't afford to live in London and have to drive in from miles away.

I think that if you signed a contract there should be an agreement that if you are definitely not working you could be moved into hard-to-let areas, like Liverpool. There's no point in living in London if you don't want to work there.

AGAINST: MAXINE, 38, PRESTON

You can't hit people with a big stick to make them conform.

I live in social housing and I'm the only person down my street who works. There are people who are socially disadvantaged to start off with. Taking away their right to a home would just make it worse. They'd just turn to crime to make ends meet.

I know what I'm talking about - I've been a teacher for 15 years and I know there are some people who are second or third generation unemployed and they will never work. They are better off on benefit. That's the way it is.

If you want my answer, I think we should look at how they do it in Sweden. They have high taxation and a better standard of living which means everyone feels they should contribute.

Here, there is such a big divide between rich and poor that a lot of people just say, right, I'll just give up and not try and be part of it all. There's your problem.



SEE ALSO
Wealth gap 'widest in 40 years'
17 Jul 07 |  Business
Regional minister for government
28 Jun 07 |  West Yorkshire

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