IAIN Duncan-Smith yesterday defended plans to relocate unemployed council house tenants to areas where they can find work, dismissing claims he was returning to the “on yer bike” approach of the 1980s.
The work and pensions secretary said the policies would help the jobless escape “ghettos of poverty” and find work in more economically active areas.
“People are static, unable to get work because there isn’t any work there, unable to get to work because their salaries, their wages aren’t high enough. And they are stuck,” Duncan-Smith added.
But Labour leadership contender Ed Balls seized on the initiative as proof the coalition was rehashing the welfare-to-work policies of Margaret Thatcher and Norman Tebbit.
He said: “What he’s saying, a bit like Norman Tebbit was saying on the 1980s, is get on your bike, move and find a job elsewhere.
“But he’s going slightly further than Margaret Thatcher and Norman Tebbit… it’s actually on your bike and lose your home.”
The work and pensions secretary said millions of people are trapped on sink estates where there are no jobs. Under existing rules, if they choose to move to find work they lose their right to a council house.
Recruits to Duncan-Smith’s scheme would go to the top of the waiting list for social housing in any area, as long as they were relocating there to take up employment.