Bicycles and other items sit on the balconies of council run housing in Lambeth. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Miliband to affirm radical agenda for change at "Condition of Britain" launch

The IPPR report will play a crucial role in shaping Labour's policy platform for the election.

Labour has entered what policy review head Jon Cruddas describes to me as "the most important period in the whole parliament". Over the next few weeks, the party's final major pieces of policy work - IPPR's "Condition of Britain" report, the Local Government Innovation Taskforce and Andrew Adonis's growth review - will be published ahead of the crucial National Policy Forum in Milton Keynes from 18-20 July.

The run of policy will begin on Thursday when Miliband speaks at the publication of "Condition of Britain" at Rich Mix cinema in Bethnal Green. The report, which was launched back in February 2013 by Cruddas, has long been regarded by Labour figures as potentially the most significant study of Britain since the crash, with many comparing it to the 1994 Commission On Social Justice (on which David Miliband served as secretary) which proved so influential on the subsequent New Labour government.

The aim of the review will be to answer the question that has often occupied Labour minds in this parliament: how does the party achieve progressive change when there's less money around? Its three pillars will focus on redistributing power, recognising contribution and rewarding work, and strengthening services and institutions as as a better route to social justice than cash transfers.

The first will mean a radical programme of devolution from Whitehall to end a "century of centralisation" and to achieve change in an era of fiscal constraint. The second will seek to reaffirm the contributory principle by linking social housing allocation to work (paid or voluntary), offering extra childcare for working parents, and introducing a higher rate of Jobseeker's Allowance for older people who have contributed the most over their lifetimes. The third will mean shifting spending from benefits to services, for instance from housing benefit to housebuilding  and from tax credits to the living wage.

While Labour won't accept all of the recommendations of the report (it will, for instance, reject a proposal to fund universal childcare by freezing child benefit), it will represent the best guide yet to what social policy would look like under a Miliband government. Ideas such as transferring responsibility for housing benefit from the DWP to local councils will be embraced.

Expect the Labour leader to emphasise that he is offering "big, bold reforms", rather than "make-do-and-mend spending solutions". It is, to use a word that Miliband won't, "predistribution" in action. Rather than seeking to narrow the gap between rich and poor through expensive remedial measures such as tax credits, the aim is to stop inequality before it starts by tackling its structural roots.

The combination of austerity and the living standards crisis has created a historic opportunity to overhaul the British model of welfare. On Thursday, Miliband will once again underline his determination to seize it.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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How Theresa May laid a trap for herself on the immigration target

When Home Secretary, she insisted on keeping foreign students in the figures – causing a headache for herself today.

When Home Secretary, Theresa May insisted that foreign students should continue to be counted in the overall immigration figures. Some cabinet colleagues, including then Business Secretary Vince Cable and Chancellor George Osborne wanted to reverse this. It was economically illiterate. Current ministers, like the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Chancellor Philip Hammond and Home Secretary Amber Rudd, also want foreign students exempted from the total.

David Cameron’s government aimed to cut immigration figures – including overseas students in that aim meant trying to limit one of the UK’s crucial financial resources. They are worth £25bn to the UK economy, and their fees make up 14 per cent of total university income. And the impact is not just financial – welcoming foreign students is diplomatically and culturally key to Britain’s reputation and its relationship with the rest of the world too. Even more important now Brexit is on its way.

But they stayed in the figures – a situation that, along with counterproductive visa restrictions also introduced by May’s old department, put a lot of foreign students off studying here. For example, there has been a 44 per cent decrease in the number of Indian students coming to Britain to study in the last five years.

Now May’s stubbornness on the migration figures appears to have caught up with her. The Times has revealed that the Prime Minister is ready to “soften her longstanding opposition to taking foreign students out of immigration totals”. It reports that she will offer to change the way the numbers are calculated.

Why the u-turn? No 10 says the concession is to ensure the Higher and Research Bill, key university legislation, can pass due to a Lords amendment urging the government not to count students as “long-term migrants” for “public policy purposes”.

But it will also be a factor in May’s manifesto pledge (and continuation of Cameron’s promise) to cut immigration to the “tens of thousands”. Until today, ministers had been unclear about whether this would be in the manifesto.

Now her u-turn on student figures is being seized upon by opposition parties as “massaging” the migration figures to meet her target. An accusation for which May only has herself, and her steadfast politicising of immigration, to blame.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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