Westminster Council proposes ‘civic contract’ for unemployed

Unemployed people would have to prove they are actively volunteering in the community in order to qualify for certain welfare benefits and social housing, Westminster Council proposes in a consultation document, A Civic Contract for Westminster. In measures aimed at ending what it calls the ‘something for nothing culture’, the Council also proposes that working families who ‘play by the rules’ should get priority for social housing while existing tenants who fall foul of the law should be evicted. The Council’s aim is to deploy shrinking welfare resources guided by the principles of ‘responsibility, fairness and opportunity’ and claims its proposals are a potential model for the future of local public services across Britain. It says: ‘A culture of “something for nothing” is no longer financially possible and is not the kind of society we wish to foster.’

The proposals around benefits and housing include:

  • The claim that social housing is ‘a privilege, not a right’ and means-testing social housing tenants so that households earning above average local incomes will pay higher rents.
  • Giving priority access to the borough’s 22,000 social homes to groups such as volunteer police officers, Territorial Army members, nurses and ex-service personnel.
  • Giving social housing allocation credit points to families who adopt or foster children, and deducting points from housing applicants found guilty of antisocial behaviour or families whose children persistently truant from school.
  • Reducing council tax benefit for households whose members are convicted of persistent antisocial behaviour or criminality.

Further information is available from the City of Westminster website.