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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.

The IPPR report will play a crucial role in shaping Labour's policy platform for the election.
Bicycles and other items sit on the balconies of council run housing in Lambeth. Photograph: Getty Images.

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.