Conservative think tank says giving council housing to the needy has created ghettos

Tenants should be obliged to look for work as a condition of getting social housing, a new report from a Tory think tank has said.

The study commissioned by former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith and carried out by think tank The Centre for Social Justice said the proportion of social housing tenants in full time employment has halved from 67% to 34% between 1981 and 2006.

The research said council housing estates have degenerated into ghettoes with high rates of crime, unemployment and drug addiction because of a longstanding government policy requiring that local authorities give priority to those of “greatest need” on housing waiting lists.

The report claims this rule should be scrapped to ensure a social mix on estates and provide working families as “role models” to families dependent on welfare.

Mr Smith, who commissioned the report after visiting the deprived Easterhouse estate in Glasgow said: “What we have done over the last 30 years is create ghettoes where we have put all the most broken families. As a result these families go on to have broken children. We should be ashamed.”

Today, the average income of two in three tenants in social housing is 40% of the national average compared to 73% in the early 1980s and one in four heads of household on council estates are registered as permanently sick or disabled.

The report calls for the abolition of security of tenure for council tenants and the encouragement of more people to move out of social housing once they are able to buy or rent in the private sector. The Tories argue such terms were only appropriate when estates were dominated by stable working class families in the sixties.

The report also recommends that tenancy agreements should include conditions requiring the tenant to seek employment. It also called for more family sized housing to be built to encourage couples with children to remain together.