Jobless 'may lose council homes', warns Wandsworth

Unemployed people in west London have been warned they could lose their council homes unless they find jobs.

Wandsworth Council is considering a policy that would mean people only got council homes if they were working.

If they failed to stick to their side of the bargain they would face the prospect of losing the home, it said.

Charity Housing Justice has criticised Wandsworth's proposals saying providing housing should not be "conditional upon people working".

The Conservative-run council is already hoping to introduce rules giving a higher priority to working families when allocating council properties.

Earlier this year the council caused controversy when it began threatening convicted rioters with eviction from their council homes.

No 'handout'

Under the council's plans all new housing applicants would be subject to fixed-term tenancies.

Tenants who fail over the course of that fixed term to take steps to find work or improve their employment prospects would face the prospect of losing their homes.

Housing spokesman Councillor Paul Ellis said: "In return we expect them to take up these opportunities. People who refuse to meaningfully to look for work without good reason will forfeit their right to a council home.

"This isn't about punishing people who are made redundant or cannot find a job.

"It is about having a way to penalise those who can't be bothered to make the effort."

Mr Ellis added: "Ultimately when it comes to offering council homes in the future we want to give people a hand up - not a handout."

Alistair Murray from Housing Justice said: "I don't think that housing should be conditional upon people working because everybody needs housing.

"Ultimately we will be paying more for the housing if we are evicting people or preventing people from moving into state-subsidised housing and they are forced to move into the private rented sector."

Campbell Robb, chief executive of housing charity Shelter said: "What we really need is to build more truly affordable homes for families across the country so we do not find ourselves in this difficult position of having to judge who is most worthy of this scarce resource."

'Hollow gimmick'

Councillor Mark Thomas, Labour's spokesman on housing, said: "Of course it's important that we do more to incentivise people into work - but we are concerned that those who lose their jobs through no fault of their own are not unfairly penalised.

"We all know the jobs market is very tough at the moment and the vast majority of people do want to work.

"It is crucial that the council provides meaningful employment support for people who sign up to this new scheme with a real job at the end of it, otherwise these plans for new council tenants are just a hollow gimmick."

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