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Miliband call to put workers first

People in work could be given priority over benefit claimants in the waiting list for social housing, under proposals being floated by Ed Miliband at Labour's annual conference in Liverpool.

Mr Miliband will use his keynote speech to say that councils allocating scarce homes should be required to take into account whether individuals are contributing to their community by working, volunteering, looking after their property and being "good neighbours".

And he will say that a Labour government would offer rewards and incentives to businesses which contribute to the community and the national economy through long-term investment and training.

Mr Miliband will set out the terms of a "new bargain" on both welfare and the economy to reward people and businesses who "do the right thing".

In a speech influenced by the experience of the banking crash, the phone-hacking scandal and riots in England's cities, Mr Miliband will say that the country is facing a "quiet crisis" caused by "an economy and a society too often rewarding not the right people with the right values, but the wrong people with the wrong values".

He is expected to say: "Labour will always stand as the voice of the people, our people. Their values will be heard. And we will challenge the vested interests that benefit when the wrong values are rewarded. Never again should they be able to take advantage of a system which doesn't work to the values and instincts of decent people in our country. We need a new bargain. Based on a different set of values."

Under his proposed shake-up of the welfare system, social housing would no longer be allocated purely on the basis of need. Councils like Newham and Manchester have already started giving additional housing points to people in work. Mr Miliband's proposal would require all authorities to operate similar schemes, though the precise details would be left to individual councils, which could give priority to factors such as voluntary work.

And Mr Miliband will reject Tory claims that Labour is an anti-business party, insisting that all political parties must be pro-business in the modern era. But he will accuse the Conservatives of failing to distinguish between businesses which genuinely create wealth for the nation and those which make money by asset-stripping, without contributing to the communities within which they operate.

A Labour government would use tax breaks, regulation and the spending power of the state to favour companies which give something back to Britain, he will say. Companies which secure government contracts would be required to offer apprenticeships and tax incentives would encourage skills training and long-term investment.

Following his pledge earlier this week to reduce the cap on university tuition fees from £9,000 to £6,000, Mr Miliband will signal his determination to take action to get more young people from modest backgrounds into top universities.


From Belfast Telegraph