LPW lunchtime news 18 July

Single parents will have to seek work to get benefits once their youngest child is seven from 2017, under welfare changes announced today. Peter Hain said there was a need to “re-ignite the jobs crusade” from when Labour came to power in 1997.

The proposals come the day after JRF research found the gap between rich and poor was wider than ever. Peter Hain claimed the new plan was at the forefront of the government’s drive to eradicate child poverty and “in reaching out to the hardest to help, aims to offer true social mobility”. The Guardian leader says Brown must make the argument for redistribution of wealth to tackle inequality – and mentions housing as a key cause of growing economic division.

Economist and so-called ‘architect of Gordon Brown’s housing policy’, Kate Barker has repeated her view that it is okay to build homes on the greenbelt. Her rationale, described in the Guardian, is that it is far better to consider slight incursions into the green belt than building new communities further afield in the countryside and encouraging more commuting, and car use.

MPs have recommended a new hurdle to housebuilding. A Commons committee has recommended that new homes and schools should not be built within 60 metres of high voltage power lines until the link with childhood cancers is better understood by scientists. They said buyers should be provided with information on the level of electromagnetic fields within homes before they buy.