A crackdown on 'Shameless' families could see state officials turning up at people's homes to get them out of bed for work and make sure their children go to school.
Communities Secretary Hazel Blears said the Government was prepared to take drastic steps to tackle a ' hardcore' of workless neighbourhoods where no one has a proper job.
The plan is likely to be dismissed as a gimmick by Opposition MPs, and there will be doubts about the reception council staff or social workers can expect in areas riddled with crime and anti-social behaviour.
Miss Blears admitted that despite Government investment, there remain parts of the country where three generations of families have never worked and live a life funded by state benefits.
Some neighbourhoods, particularly in inner cities and on large estates, are so blighted by long-term unemployment that no one on a street has a job and children never see anyone going to work.
She said it was increasingly clear that a minority of 'Shameless' families were causing the majority of crime and antisocial behaviour, and using up a disproportionate amount of government resources in welfare benefits and state intervention.
That was a reference to the Channel 4 drama featuring father-of-eight Frank Gallagher, who heads a dysfunctional family living on a council estate of benefit claimants and cheats in Manchester.
In response, Miss Blears is preparing to publish legislation paving the way for unprecedented 'community intervention projects'. In effect, entire streets or blocks of flats would be put on 'special measures'.
Sources say council staff would be given the power to enter homes to get people out of bed in the morning, or turn up with rubber gloves and detergent to oversee the cleaning of filthy homes.
They could require people to take part in cleaning up gardens or outside areas.
Children with no good role models could get 'mentors' from local voluntary groups, while local businesses and universities would be asked to give them placements to show them another side of life.
Miss Blears is working with Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell on measures that would see families who refuse to take part stripped of their benefits.
'We should give local agencies and voluntary groups new powers to do whatever it takes to get people off the sofa and into a job,' she said.
'We need to be bold and innovative, because it is clear that for "Shameless" families the current system does not do enough to get people into work.'
Miss Blears added: 'In a recession, there's no space for freeloaders. We need a more muscular approach to the ways the state intervenes into deliberately0unemployed people's lives.'
The Government says pilot schemes have produced encouraging results.
There were significant falls in anti-social behaviour among 90 families who had intensive supervision such as monitoring children's attendance at school, curfews and drug or alcohol dependence treatment.