22/03/2012 Newsnight


In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Mishal Husain.

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Non-existant employers, untracable workers and employees who were


actually freelance. Newsnight has evidence of widespread fraud at the


jobs agency, A4e, Paul Mason investigates.


In this leaked report, evidence of management issues at A4e, why


didn't civil servants get to see it. Is it time for the Government to


show A4e the door. We will have live reaction.


The Toulouse Government ends in a police shootout, but ignites a


debate on diversity in France, will it impact their presidential


elections. Until now France hasn't seen the


kind of home-grown Islamist terrorism that Britain and other


European countries have experienced. But some say that the threat here


was dangerously underestimated. Does the budget mean that the party


is over for Britain's old people. And is that only fair.


We will have young guns from Labour and the Conservatives here to slug


it out. And...


The athletes, the sponsor and an Olympic anthem for the world. DJ,


musician and top producer, Mark Ronson, is here to explain how he


wants us to feel about Britain and the games.


Good evening, the company that has made millions out of welfare-to-


work schemes, is at the centre of a new storm tonight, after a leaked


report provided evidence apparent fraud. A4e is already under


investigation, this report came from its own auditors, who warned


in 2009, that numerous cases, where the company had supposedly got


people into work and been paid for it by the Government, simply


couldn't be backed up with evidence. The Government's position has been


that systemic fraud will mean the end of A4e's lucrative contracts.


Well our economics editor, Paul Mason, has been investigating.


Here's a company that makes money by putting unemployed people into


jobs. It sends a man for a job, and after two hours he complains of


sore feet, and he leaves, and is never seen again, later somebody


signs a form saying he had a job for 13 weeks. The company claims


money from the Government for it. This is either fraud, or


irregularity, or bad practice. We ought to know what it is.


This stuff happens in the best of companies. What the Government is


concerned about is whether this was systematic at A4e. This report,


that was leaked to us, is full of such examples.


And more, what it says is the company's management really were in


danger of potentially systematic management failure, to address


these problems of fraud and irregularity.


Time was, A4e was the poster child for the Government's back to work


programme, Mr Cameron made the company's boss his back-to-work


adviser. Is she being helpful. helpful. A4e was paid �170 million


a year by the Government, for training the unemployed and getting


them into long-term jobs. The jobs were supposed to last at least 13


weeks, and the employers had to sign a form, confirming the job was


real, and reasonably full-time, not just a few hours a week.


In July 2009, A4e audited the work of its top 20 recruiters, these


were supposed to be the best people, and the auditors only looked at the


files of 224 clients. It is just a snapshot, but what they found was


disturbing. In offices scattered all over the country, A4e's finest


were claiming for putting people into jobs that didn't exist, or


didn't qualify for a payment from the Government, and fabricating


paperwork to back up the claims. The report details potentially


fraudulent, or irregular A4e claims. Three in Edinburgh, three in


Newcastle, and six in Bridlington, two in Bootle, two in Manchester,


one in Rotherham, and four in Nottingham, three in Norwich and


two in Woolich. They could only be sure that everything was in order


in two-thirds of the files they looked at. The report itself warns


these are not isolated incidents. In Edinburgh, one client walked out


after two hours, complaining of sore feet, and never appeared on


the potential employer's books. But A4e still claimed the payment. In


Bootle, the auditor could find no trace of an unemployed man who was


supposed to have found work in Royal Mail, and no trace of the man


who employed him. In Bridlington, a cafe owner told the auditor that he


never met a man A4e claimed for. He wanted to know why A4e kept asking


him to sign blank forms. In Woolich, Sebastien Fournier appeared to have


claimed putting a benefits cheat back into a job he was already


illegally working from. The auditor Auditors found that recruiters


thought there was nothing wrong in filling out forms that should have


been completed by the employer. 4% of the claims by best recruiters


were potentially fraudulent, found the auditors, and the rest were


risky. The auditors were only sure that A4e was entitled to the money


they claimed in 74% of cases. This is what the Deputy Prime Minister


told parliament next week. We have launched our own audit of the


existing contracts that A4e has received from Government. If there


is any evidence of systematic abuse, of course we would end all


contracts with A4e. Critics will say the report appears


to provide the evidence of precisely this.


Of course, the majority of claims surveyed, as well as some of A4e's


offices, and some of A4e's recruiters, were given a totally


clean bill of health, although the report was written in 2009, we


found two of those linked with potential fraud still working at


A4e rb today. The report, back then, said


management information, in relation to the effectiveness of existing


controls, is minimal. A4e said the document was not the


final draft, and that they had determined that only five claims


were irregular, and related to one former employee. And that they had


repaid the Government, less than �5,000. A4e wouldn't give us an


interview, but an industry spokeswoman told us this.


understanding is, that this is a report that A4e itself commissioned,


and back in 2009, and it shared the findings of that report with the


investigatory branch of the Department for Work and Pensions,


and they found that all the appropriate action had been taken.


The DWP told us, they never saw the document, they were made aware of


the audit, and later received assurances from A4e that it had not


uncovered any major issues. Michelle, those statements there,


from the company, and from the DWP, do leave a lot of questions


unanswered. Why didn't the DWP see this report, it is not a rough


traft, it is a thorough report, hours of work by an auditor. And


what did A4e do as a result of the problems. Labour started the


process and hired them, and the coalition now, what will they do


now. To read this report is im%ing yourself in the world of people


worried about jobs, and being sent to lap dancing clubs, bars, cafes,


low-paid employment, with very little power. They are doing the


work under extreme pressure from the recruiters to get them into


jobs. The Government doesn't want to come out and play and talk about


this, it will have to, because it has a duty of care to the tens of


thousands of unemployed people who are right now, today and tomorrow,


going through the portals of this company's operation.


Let as try and answer some of those questions, no-one from the


Department of Work and Pensions, or A4e was available for interview


tonight. With us in the studio is Margaret Hodge MP, the chair of the


Public Accounts Committee. What did you think, watching Paul's report?


I think it is a shocking catalogue of incidents, which suggest it is


not contained in one area of the country, and it is not about one


little group of employees. It seems to me that it is endemic in the


company. I think the company has got questions to answer. I think


what I feel is if the company, obvious low, saw this report, if I


was a manager in that company, if I really had any moral integrity, I


would have shared the entire contents with the department. I


would have come clean, and I would have made absolutely clear what I


was doing to put things right. This company gets hundreds of millions


of pounds of tax-payers' money, your money and my money, and to


think that on the back of that, the directors are becoming multi-


millionaires, and individuals, who are desperate for jobs, are not


being given a good service, it is not acceptable. There is clearly


some eye-opening example, the auditors turning up to the


employers' premises and they don't exist. Employers being asked to


fill out blank forms by A4e employees. The question key to this


from what the Government has said, the question of systemic fraud,


from what you have seen today, do you think there is systemic fraud?


I have no doubt, after reading the report, this is a systemic issue


throughout the company. It was my committee that first highlighted


the problems in A4e. Since we have discussed it, I have had over 100


e-mails from individuals, either clients or people who have worked


there. What comes out to me out of this, is I think the company


appears to have been really greedy. You see that a little bit in Emma


Harrisson paying herself a dividend of �8.6 million. I think there is a


bullying culture there. In that culture people were cutting corners


and there was cheating going on. From the point of view of the


Government. The Government has consistently said that if there is


evidence of systemic fraud, that they would stop the contract.


that what you think should happen right now, today, on the basis of


this? I have been saying for some time, that I think those contracts


should be suspended. I wrote today to the permanent secretary in the


DWP, asking him, yet again, to suspend the contracts with A4e. He


has not done so. I think this has a wider impact, because if we don't


sort this out, everybody will lose trust in the system as a whole.


This is a new programme, there is literally hundreds of millions of


pounds being put into the private sector. If theren't proper


transparency and openness and confidence, we will lose trust in


an absolutely key programme to get people back into work. Both the DWP


and the statement for A4e, the point they are making, is both seem


to think this is historic, the report came in 2009, the DWP says


it has its own investigations, it is looking into this right now, and


will come to its own conclusions. That honestly misses the point,


trying to put the claim on what happened before the general


election is silly. Do you think that something magically happened


on the day of the general election. That changed the culture of this


company? I don't. You think it is happening today? Among the 100 e-


mails and letters I have had, there are people who are complaining


about the work programme. We know that the DWP is investigating, and


the police are investigating allegations around the present work


programme. I think what is a really important point, the work programme


is a new programme. It is going to be run by a whole lot of private


providers. In a sort of, where there is not going to be very


detailed vigilance of how they spend the money. I think it is


hugely important, it is tax-payers' money, this is hugely important.


There is proper transparency and openness, so you and I can be


secure in the knowledge that the hundreds of millions is properly


spent. It is a huge amount of money, briefly, if you can, A4e are also


saying this dates back to a paper- based system they had in the past,


and the new electronic controls they have would not allow it to


happen today? If A4e had been completely open, and shared this


report with the Government, I think that would have been one thing. I


think any moral employer would have done that. If the Government knew


about this report, and knew about the culture in this organisation,


I'm extremely surprised that they thought that this was an


appropriate company with whom they should be doing business, using our


money. Also joining us tonight is Laim


Byrne, the shadow Work and Pensions spokesman. If you were in


Government today, what would you be doing about this report? I think I


would be coming forward to parliament with some answers to


some pretty basic questions. First and most important is, did


ministers know about this report, when they handed A4e a �440 million


new contract, to run the work programme. These new work programme


contracts are the biggest payment by results contracts, pretty much


in the world. They involve a huge sum of public money. And crucially,


they are aimed at solving, what is one of the biggest crises


confronting our country, which is the unemployment crisis. Ministers


have to come forward and say did they know about this report when


they handed out the contracts, if not, why not. Of course the people


who are actually in power at the time that this report was written


in July 2009 was the Labour Government. You were in Government


at the time, it happened on your watch? Absolutely, our counter


fraud checks happened to surface this problem, that is why a year or


two after this report was reduced, someone was not only charged but


convicted for fraud. That shows the checks were in place and working.


The key now is whether the checks are in place on the big new


contract, the work programme. That is why we need to know, did the


ministers know about the report when they signed off on the


contracts, and secondly, have they got the right checks in place today.


We heard a few weeks ago the incredible news that the


Government's counter fraud system for the woj programme isn't


actually in place -- work programme isn't actually in place. If the


checks were in place when you were in power they can't have been that


good. We are talking about a geographical spread of these


allegations across the country, six in Bridlington, four in Edinburgh,


two in Woolich, the list goes on and on. You didn't have that good a


system in place, did you? The fraud was surfaced, and someone was


charged and convicted for it. The question now, as I say, is did


ministers know about the report when they signed off on a massive


new contract, and what checks have they now got in place, in order to


ensure that the lessons have been learned and this is not happening


again. Ministers have said, if they do find evidence of systemic fraud


they will suspend the contracts. They are looking at the evidence,


looking at the evidence that we have presented tonight, do you


believe, as Margaret Hodge believes, that this is a systemic failure in


systemic fraud? I think the onus is now on A4e and ministers, to


satisfy parliament, and tax-payers, that this has come to an end. And


that there isn't the same problem on this massive new contract in the


work programme. Ministers like to boast it is what they call a black


box contract, that means it is pretty hard to know what is going


on inside, there is a much bigger incentive on companies to just get


people into jobs, or toe claim that they have got people into jobs,


that is the only way now they get paid. If tu like, the stakes are


much higher for companies. The -- if you like the stakes are much


higher for companies, the fraud is much greater and the checks should


be tougher. I'm worried that the DWP has had to confess that the


checks for the work programme won't be in place until the end of April.


Margaret Hodge wants the contracts pulled now, because she doesn't


believe this is a fit recipient of public money, are you making the


same call tonight or not? taking slightly different position,


I think that ministers need to come forward to parliament, very, very


urgently now, and say did they know about this report when they awarded


the contracts, that is a matter of enormous public concern, and second,


what is the result of their incertainly investigation. We know


there isn't a checking system in place, because they have to build


it. We need to know now what their investigation is showing. This is a


matter of massive public concern. President Nicolas Sarkozy has


appealed for national unity in France, after the French Muslim


responsible for the deaths of seven people in Toulouse, was killed in a


police shootout, after a long siege. France has the largest Muslim


minority in Europe. Debates about integration have become


increasingly strident in recent years. It is also in the midst of a


presidential election, with President Sarkozy trailing in the


polls. First of all, here in Toulouse they


are simply in enormous relief that the gunman, killed in the street


behind me, is no longer at large. That is particularly because he


warned police, over the last couple of days, that he had already


identified his next victims. But along with that, questions are


already beginning to be asked. Questions, first of all, about


whether all the warning signs about the killer had been picked up on,


and we have heard reports, for example, tonight, unconfirmed, that


the Americans had already put him on their no-fly list. There are


also questions being asked about the radicalisation of French youth,


about immigration, and those are questions about which, on which the


far right, the National Front, can only make political capital.


Questions which President Sarkozy and the other mainstream


politicians will have to answer. But first, this is how the events


unfolded today. The police had been surrounding the block of flats in a


quiet residential area of Toulouse, since early yesterday morning.


They set off explosions throughout last night. In an attempt to


exhaust Mohammed Merah and force him out.


But the final drama didn't come until 10.30am.


(gunfire) Heavy gunfire rang out through the evacuated streets, soon


it was revealed how the siege had ended. Police had stormed the flat,


but a door and window, after a six- hour silence from Merah, and were


met with gunfire. TRANSLATION: killer came out of the bathroom, he


was shooting violently, the shots were frequent and severe, even


those used to seeing such things, said they weren't used to seeing


such ferocity. The policemen defended themselves, but in the end


Mohammed Merah jumped through the window, with one weapon in his hand,


still shooting. He was found dead on the ground. Police moved in


after they heard Mohammed Merah was planning to kill another soldier.


It appeared he was already responsible for seven deaths.


On March 11th, a paratrooper was shot dead in Toulouse, on March


15th two more paratroopers were killed. On March 19th, three


children at a Jewish school in Toulouse, and a rabbi were gunned


down. But today, after the death of the gunman on this street, many


questions are still unanswered. Until now, France hasn't seen the


kind of home-grown Islamist terrorism that Britain and other


European countries have experienced. But some say that the threat here


was dangerously underestimated. There is particular concern that


the Secret Services were apparently tracking the killer for several


years, but didn't consider him a risk.


Merah, pictured here, in an internet video, was a French


citizen of Algerian background, who travelled twice to Afghanistan and


Pakistan to train with Al-Qaeda fighters. He claimed to belong to


Al-Qaeda. French prosecutors believe he was a Lone Wolf, acting


without acomplises. TRANSLATION: This is someone who we can't link


to a known organisation or structure. This is someone who


doesn't generate attention, even during the period when he committed


crimes. It was clearly a solitary person, who remained closed up at


home and tied up with visions and scenes of decaptations. That's his


profile. Merah grew up in these streets, in the poor district. His


friends were other young men like these, from north African families.


Young men who today didn't want to talk to journalists, rocks were


thrown at us when we tried to film here, some think France should


learn a lesson from Merah's story. TRANSLATION: It is a problem of


communication between the generations and between native


French people and those who have come from abroad. People who


suffered racism, both at school and in work. One politician, quick to


draw conclusions today, was the leader of the far night National


Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen, she said poor suburbs were being surrendered


to Islamic radicals. But other contenders in the upcoming


presidential elections have been much more restrained. The two main


candidates, President Sarkozy and his socialist challenger, Francois


Allende, suspended their campaigns this week, now the politicicing


will continue in ernest. Many people that Mr Sarkozy has done


himself nothing but good by playing the dignified President this week,


and avoiding any accusations he was trying to profit from events.


Tonight Mr Sarkozy was already back on the stump, he told an


enthusiastic audience in Strasbourg, that there was nothing in French


politics or society to explain this month's killings. TRANSLATION:


today I want to say that these crimes were not the act of a madman,


because a madman is irresponsible. These were crimes committed by a


monster. A fanatic. Just hours after Mohammed Merah's


death, it is too soon to know if France will agree with the


President. The coming four weeks of campaigning will now coincide with


a completely unexpected period of national soul searching.


Let as talk about what this means for France. In Paris now is the


political commentator, Agnes Poirier. It has been a really


dramatic couple of days. How big a moment do you think this is for


France? It is a big moment, perhaps because the killer was French. He


was a French national, killing his compatriots, on distorted religious


grounds. But still, religious grounds.


It has been very interesting being both in London, as I have been, and


in France during those three days. The view in France so far has been


to avoid certain issues, certain questions. The representatives of


the Muslim Council of France decided to say that Mohammed Merah


didn't belong to us, it wasn't one of us, it wasn't Muslim as far as


they were concerned. You know, a lot of people haven't felt they


could say that he was an Islamist. Mohammed Merah does represent a


very distorted and perverted version of Islam, but one that


needs to be addressed, not only by French Intelligence Services, but


also by the French Muslim community. In what way would you want to see


it addressed, what actually needs to change in practical terms?


it is the responsibility, I guess, of religious authorities, to make


sure that only moderate Islam is taught in school, and preached in


mosques. And Salafists are not allowed to impose their norm, and


as the specialist of the Arab world would say, it is very important


that Imans in French mosques do emphasise the belonging to the


national community. Because all these people were French. And they


still were killed. You know there is a wealth of information, there


is a wealth of influence out there, far beyond what Imams in France can


or should be speeching, what about the responsibility of the French


said in this. I What in terms of the French state can be done in


national policy rather than just the religious authorities? I think


it is a collective responsibility that we should actually start


addressing, really. You know, the Republic is a wonderful


construction, but has been slight low abandoned by politicians in the


last 25 years. You know, it is not only Nicolas Sarkozy's devisive


policies of the last five years, we are talking about 25 years of


leaving poor suburbs becoming no-go zones for the police. It is a


question of education, it is a question on the ground for


religious authorities to make sure that they teach moderate Islam. It


is collective problem I think. Let's bring in the author of How To


Be French, Alan Wiley, do you agree with Agnes Poirier that this is a


moment for a major re-think, she says policies have been going wrong


for 25 years in France? Well, no I don't agree. This man was a fan at


that timeic, a madman, who has -- fanatic, a madman, he has attacked


not just Jews, but Muslims and black. The soldiers were not white,


they were black and Arabs. He hated the idea that Arabs, or black,


could be part of the French army. That French institutions could


equal low people from all regions, people from all faiths, all colours,


that is what he hated the most. I think he didn't get teaching in


France, he got his teaching in Afghanistan, and in Pakistan.


Obviously we don't know for sure, there is a suggestion that he has


been radicalised in France, perhaps, during his imprisonment. No, no, no.


No, no, no, no. He was radicalised outside of


France, he was a madman, he tried to commit a crime in 2008. He was


in a psychiatric hospital, the doctor asked him to be followed by


doctors and he was not followed. So it is a failure of our medical and


Secret Service. So it is an isolated case, and


there is no need for any kind of re-think by the French state?


course there is a need for a re- think. I think the French


politicians and public have reacted very well in the last two days. By


showing unity behind the institutions, the army, for example,


who gather all French from all parts the country. And also the


Jews, who can attend in our system, religious school, still being


French. This guy has attacked the French model of integration, which


is based on institutions that favour unity and equality, and


statement accept diversity. I think it was great in the last --


estimate accept -- I think it was great in the last fou days that


people all come together and accept we are together. When hundreds of


Norwegians were killed last summer, the Prime Minister of Norway said


he wanted us to change what we are, and we are going to continue to


stay what we are. And it is, I think, the same thing for the


French to do. Some budget analysis, despite not


particularly hitting grannies, it seems more grandfathers are


actually affected and not actual -- actually with the granny tax out of


the budget. Do the figures the Chancellor read out confidently


actually add up. Today it was the turn of the Institute of Fiscal


studies to give its take on the budget, a vital calendar event for


those working out the confusing budget numbers. I'm not sure not


for you. Did the pensioners, in reality, get a hard deal? Looking


at this morning's papers, this was an unprecedented generational


mugging on the pensions, the IFS described the change as modest.


They had some rather interesting graphics to back up what they had


to say. If we look at what they produced, the chart they produced.


It shows, and we see behind you there, if we look at who got what


out of this budget, well, we see that households with children on


the left there did is it rather well out of this budget. Pensioner


households in the middle there did rather badly out of it, households


without children did rather well again. The Government say that is


misleading, we have to take in the round all the changes since 2010,


when the Government came in. If we plot all of that on the chart, it


shows the big losers out of the budget, out of those changes since


2010, if we look behind you, is households with children, nearly 4%


of their income has disappeared, where as pensioner households have


done rather better. What about the number crunching on


the 50p tax rate, there is suggestion that it was scrapped


because it didn't raise thatch money at all? On that, I think the


Chancellor has -- that much money at all? On that, I think the


Chancellor has less support from the IFS. Trying to maximise the


amount you take is very difficult, the IFS say it is highly


speculative, it is difficult to find the figures. They say that on


the HMRC's own figures, there is a 30% chance that it could be lower


than 30p in the pound. There is a 30% chance it could be higher than


75p in the pound. The inference you draw from that is the Chancellor


picked 45p because he wished that to be the number. There is another


point raised about that, they say the Chancellor has given up some


certain streams of revenue, from raising the allowances, and looked


for some places to make up for it, in other streams of revenue that


were less certain, how many hot chicken people will buy in future


and hot pies, it is not clear. many people now will be paying


higher rate tax? An interesting fact from the IFS, they have


created 325,000 higher rate tax- payers, this is the 40p rate. By


2014, 15% of tax-payers will be paying a higher rate. They contrast


that with 1978- 69, when it was only 3% of tax-payers. To dissect


it with me are my guests. Why is it that pensioners took the


hit, was it just their turn? Well, the impulse behind why this was


brought in is because there is a very sharp rise that David was just


talking about, in the amount that everybody is going to be earning in


their working age before they pay tax at all. That is rising sharply.


He took the decision to hold steady the age-related part, and the


threshold that all of us have, the amount all of us who are working


can earn before they pay tax, is rising to meet it. That is a great


simplification. Let me explain one important part of why this


simplification is important. are not denying they are being hit,


I'm just asking why it was, what was the thinking behind making that


particular choice? Because I do take dispute with the premise of


your question. Because actually there is no cash losers. It is


important for people watching the programme, especially if they are


pensioners, to know, there is no tax rise on them. It is just that a


future increase in the threshold won't be happening, because it will


be frozen. 3.2 million pensioners didn't claim this increase extra


allowance that is being phased out, because it is so complicated. I


think that a simple letter system, that is the same for everybody, --


simpler system, as a long-term goal, that is the same for everybody is a


good thing. This Government has done a huge amount for pension erbs


and does support pensioners. If you think that is a simple explanation


people might have to look again. We have been saying for a long time


that the Government is out-of-touch. You can't fool people all of the


time, this was one of those budget changes which was very clear about


the Chancellor's priorities, he priority yoised millionaires over


pensioners, he -- prioritised millionaires over pensioners. He


raided some hard earned money of pensioners and given a � 14 --


14,000 millionaires a tax cut of money each. That is an incredible


set of priorities for somebody who said we are all in it together. The


key thing to remember here is this is a chipping away of the support


we should have in society for pensioners. We have VAT going up to


20%, pensioners, of course, lost the top-up on the winter allowance,


they lost their free swimming, the concessionary coach travel. A lot


of pensioners up and down the country will be asking what is next.


Is this the thin end of the wedge. The IFS has said it is a modest


change, you can look at it in a cumulative way? We know about the


cliff edge, as it was called in the child benefit arrangements, there


is a very personishious edge here, if you were born on the wrong side


of a day in April 1948, the hit to you will be upwards of �3020, this


is a significant judgment. When -- �320, it is a significant judgment.


He is excluding the cost of inflation. The cost of living is


extremely high, the basic state pension should have IRA flexion for


inflation in it, but pension flexion for inflation in it, but


pensioners up and down the country will be finding it difficult.


People will not take it from a Labour spokesman who ran Gordon


Brown's leadership. We remember the 10p tax rate that hit pensioners in


the pocket, we remember the 75p pension rise, instead, in two weeks


time, pensioners are getting more than �5 a week increase in the


pension, which is the biggest ever. Because inflation is so high.


won't take this about pensioners, you have seen from the chart how


pensioners have done well, relative to other groups under this


Government, and that is because we support pensioners. Let me give you


examples, that �5 a week rise, also the new pension being brought in at


around �140 a woke, to remove means testing -- a week, to remove means


testing. You took away the top-up. That was put in for one year before


the election by Gordon Brown and it was programmed to come out. Let's


bring up the graph once again, the numbers speak for themselves. If


you have a look at this particular graph, Matthew, hopefully we will


get in just a second. It is somewhere, but essentially, if you


look at the winners and the losers, on the winning side of it, it is


the working families with or without children who are on that


side of it, the pensioners are on the minor side of it. You have to


look in context what the Government has done for pensioners, you can


see that everybody, of course, has had to pay some of the debts that


Labour brought in. You can see in the red all of those bars are red


because everybody's having to take a hit for the massive debts this


country was left with. A graph like this doesn't stand because you have


to look at everything cumulatively. The red bars rather than the blue


ones, which says what is this coalition Government doing for


pensioner households, they are relatively protected. It is really


important to mention this, the chalet a whole load of information


out before the actual budget statement -- Chancellor let a whole


load of information out before the budget statement, and he didn't


have the courage to leak this mit on pensioners. If you think you can


-- hit on pensioners. If you think you can put it in cash or real


terms. This is the Chancellor deciding to give a tax cut to


millionaires funded by the hit on pensioners. Pensioners who have


been reflected in the tax system since Churchill introduced this


age-related allowance back in 1925, this is a big mistake on your


behalf. We will vote against it when it comes to parliament. Will


you reintroduce your things. would love to make a commitment,


who knows what other things they will cut away at before 2015. There


is a chipping away. When we get to 2015, we will address it in the


manifesto. Was it in your manifesto. Let me just make this point. We


have heard empty opposition from Labour, they are complaining they


haven't anything positive to say, and the support for pensioners from


the record rise in the state pension from this Government, is


showing that we are on pensioners' side.


Rarely has so much fanfare greeted a little bit of blue lycra, the


official kit for British Olympic hopefuls was unveiled today, work


of Stella McCartney for Adidas. There are others with own related


products, Coca-Cola have funded Anwar them produced by award


winning producer DJ Mark Ronson. First we look at how to capture the


sound of an Olympic city. The eyes of the world will be on us


this summer. So will their ears.


Looking after the music, it is hip, youngish, some time Londoner, Mark


Ronson. His tune for the Olympics can be considered part of a PR


opportunity. To offer a new take on brand Britain. Some 15 years after


called cool Britannia. Although the keen-eyed amongst you may also


notice another brand is also on view here.


It is almost like an orchestra. Peron's record is part inspiration,


part perspiration. The producer travelled the world, sampling the


noises made by elite athletes, their strides and their growns,


including our own big hope Darius Knight. I realised that one of the


cool things Darius does is make these grunts, it reminded me


instantly of, you know how James Brown, somebody like a really


precussive singer would grunt on their track.


Like Peron, other stellar qul turl figures have been mingling with


young limb krb cultural figures have been lingering with young


athletes, running up new threads for them. It is nothing I have


worked on before, I'm working with athletes and the first questions I


have are what can I do for you. If you are performing and you feel you


look better, do you feel it enhances your performance. You get


so many different answers to so many different questions. It is


really different, and the technology is completely different.


What are Peron's credentials to be banging the drum for Brand -- Mark


Ronson's credentials for banging the drum for Brand Britain at the


moment. He has worked with Adele and the late Amy Winehouse. Mark


Ronson's big retro sound, recalling the hey day of stacks and Motown


records, helped to make her an international star, and helped to


confirm his own reputation. Mark Ronson has got London roots,


he shot this video in the capital. So does it matter that his new


Olympics anthem will be used to sell a fizzy drink for one of the


sponsors of the games. The producer certainly has the musical chops.


Though we at Newsnight privately wonder if his new tune could


possibly eclipse this golden classic.


A great favourite with Jeremy, incidently, it is Prog Rockers


Emmerson Lake and scam Palmer at the Montreal venue. A monster slab


of olympian rock. Mark Ronson is here in the studio.


How did you approach this particular project when it first


came to you, what did you think the message you wanted to deliver out


of the games would be? The first thing they came to me and said the


concept was to go around the world recording these Olympic athletes,


and recording the sound of sports, to turn into a track. Which I like


a challenge, you know at the outset of a project. That was it. Being a


song for London 2012, this is the city I was born in and is the city


I live. It is a huge responsibility. You don't want to make something


that is bad because you are representing a city, it is


embarrassing for everyone. So there was the pressure of both of those


things, the pressure of making the track on the sound of sports, and


making something great that, if it is good, it can stay in the history


of great London songs, things like London Calling, or whatever you


want to choose. Is there a message you were trying to get across about


London as a city, and perhaps about Britain, or about Britishness?


definitely. KatyB, who wrote the lyrics, and is the singer on the


track, she encapsulates the sound of young London more than I do,


she's 21, she is closer to it. There is something about her when


she opens her mouth and talks about down by the river, she doesn't need


to say the Thames for you to know what she's talking about. That was


the point in this song, to make it feel like London, to make it feel


like something that was part of the Olympic Games, without saying,


we're winning, we are all getting the gold, you know we're all


running up to Big Ben today. I think that was definitely testament


to Katy and how great she is an artist, her voice and what she


embodies, it is there in the song. Did you want to get back to the


cool Britannia days, the hey day of Britain feeling like it was at the


cutting edge of something in music or fashion or arts? I think that in


some ways, you know, and I have to say it started probably about five


or six years ago. Obviously there was the cool Britannia, Oasis, Blur,


that era, with Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse into Adele and Florence,


it is an era, nobody needs me to go around and say it is, you look at


the charts in America and across Europe and Asia. These are some of


the biggest, Adele is the biggest superstar in the world. Is the


feel-good factor still there. Cool Britannia was in the boom time,


1997, Tony Blair coming to power, everything feeling different than


today in an age of austerity. Can we have the same buzz today? People


look to their music for an escape. And part of me wishes that, you


know, some of the top ten reflected a bit of what is going on, as


opposed to everyone spraying champagne in the club left and


right. I understand that people do want to forget about their every


day troubles when they listen to music, I guess the charts reflect


that. The other thing that is central to this particular anthem


is the commercial side of it. You watch the video, Coca-Cola is all


over it. Let's face it, it is a very commercial piece of music,


made to a certain brief. Does that not detract from it at all. How did


you feel about being part of something that is so commercial?


You know I think the record industry, everyone knows the record


industry has fallen on hard times. You have projects like this, where,


I'm not going to go as far to say it is musical fill lanthropy, no


record company -- fill lantthropy, no record company will pay for me


and Katy to go around the country and make this song. I don't think I


sold out,. Mark Ronson good luck with it. Thank you very much.


That is all from Newsnight tonight, Emily is here at the same time


tomorrow, with all the news fit to tomorrow, with all the news fit to


screen, from me, good night. The weather is set to fair over the


next few days, sunshine on Friday. Low cloud and mist will dissipate.


There will be a few exceptions, maybe some low cloud drift to go


the east coast of England, the odd shower across western parts of the


UK. So isolated hardly worthy of a mention. For most of us fine, warm


and sunny. I mentioned the east coast, cooler and cloudier, that


will be the exception. For many of us temperatures will be soaring


into the mid-to high teens, more sunshine tomorrow across parts of


South-West England today. The odd shower and a fair bit of cloud,


that won't be the case on Friday. Parts of Northern Ireland, these


will be a dying breed with showers, the odd shower might crop up across


the heart of Scotland. Particularly in the west, very isolated and


nearly everywhere will stay entirely dry. That will be the


story as we hit the weekend, dry with some sunshine. The best of


that across the more western parts of the country. This is where the


best of the temperatures will be, as we progress into the weekend,


sunny and warm. Always towards the most eastern coastal areas, with


the breeze coming off the sea it will be notably cooler, and the