The coalition Government is drawing up controversial plans to relocate the unemployed to areas of the country where there are jobs, it has been revealed.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said he would be bringing forward proposals to make the workforce "more mobile".
The comments, in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, echo the words of then-Tory minister Norman Tebbit in 1981 when he suggested the unemployed should "get on your bike" and look for work.
Mr Duncan Smith, the MP for Lord Tebbit's former parliamentary seat of Chingford, said ministers wanted to encourage jobless people living in council houses to move out of unemployment blackspots to homes in other areas, perhaps hundreds of miles away.
He insisted millions of people were "trapped in estates where there is no work" and could not move because they would lose their accommodation. The proposed scheme would allow them to go to the top of the housing list in another area rather than giving up their right to a home.
"We have over the years, not us personally but successive governments, created one of the most static workforces in the western world," Mr Duncan Smith said.
"In Britain now we have workforces that are locked to areas and the result of that is we have over five and a half million people of working age who simply don't do a job.
"Often they are trapped in estates where there is no work near there and - because they have a lifetime tenure of that house - to go to work from east London to west London, or Bristol, or whatever is too much of a risk because if you up sticks and go you will have lost your right to your house.
"The local council is going to tell you that you don't have a right to a house there, the housing association is not going to give you one. We have to look at how we get that portability, so that people can be more flexible, can look for work, can take the risk to do it."
The coalition is believed to be looking at providing incentives for workers to relocate, rather than compelling them to move.