A "culture of dependency" is being passed on from generation to generation in parts of Birmingham, Conservatives have claimed.

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Chris Grayling vowed to tackle "Frank Gallagher style parenting", in a reference to the television show Shameless.

He said he had been shocked by figures showing that four out of 10 households in parts of Birmingham contained nobody with a full time job. The high levels of worklessness were partly due to poor parenting, he said.

Mr Grayling was highlighting Conservative plans to reform the benefits system so that unemployed people face the loss of their benefits unless they take part in "welfare to work" schemes, inspired by similar programmes operating in the United States and Australia.

They might be asked to accept employment which benefits the local community, such as working in public services.

The Conservatives are also set to announce plans for tougher measures to deal with parents who fail to send their children to school, in an effort to make truancy "an absolute taboo in our society".

In a speech to political think-tank Reform, Mr Grayling compared some parents to the characters in the Channel 4 comedy Shameless, in which the Gallagher family depends entirely on benefits.

He said: "I think many parts of our society no longer know how to bring up children. We live in a country where in many places Frank Gallagher style parenting has become the norm and not the exception. Frank’s kids might have turned out alright but that was more luck than good judgement - and no thanks to him."

Speaking afterwards, he said: "The number of households that don’t have somebody in full time work is quite extraordinary.

"One of the big challenges I believe we have in dealing with these social problems is the absence of parental ambition, the absence of almost the knowledge of how to parent.

"Generations pass pretty quickly in these areas now. You’ve got 30-year-old grandparents, you’ve got 45-year old great grandparents.

"And very quickly, knowledge of good parenting, the aspirations parents have for their children, is evaporating."

He said problems may have begun when there was a genuine shortage of jobs, but this was no longer the problem.

"I think it is much more about people not knowing how to get out and find jobs, and not having the support they need to do so.

"People who are really alienated form the concept of work. It is just not something that is a feature of life in many families."

Mr Grayling came under fire from children’s charity NCH. Chief executive Clare Tickell, said: "Any use of negative labels to describe vulnerable parents risks stigmatising and isolating those most in need. Chris Grayling’s use of the Shameless analogy shows these negative attitudes are still widespread."

* Figures obtained by the Tories from the Department for Work and Pensions show nobody has a full time job in 13,000 households in the Birmingham constituency of Ladywood – 46 per cent of all households

* The statistics only include homes were at least one person is of working age, which means aged between 16 to 64 for men or 16 to 59 for women

* In the Hodge Hill constituency, 8,000 households, or 45 per cent of the total, include nobody with a full time job. In Erdington the figure is 10,000 households, 39 per cent of the total, and in Selly Oak the figure is 12,000 households, also 39 per cent

* Official unemployment figures, which only include people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance. Ladywood, for example, has an official unemployment rate of 18.4 per cent, the highest in the country