With Evan Davis. Is universal credit a botch job? Plus the man who fought for Raqqa, Aaron Banks, getting the best from Brexit and Harvey Weinstein.
Browse content similar to 24/10/2017. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
The government wants to be remembered
The problem is that for many, it's only being remembered
for botching up the introduction of Universal Credit.
If Universal Credit is not changed, we'll have some real tragedies
It just simply isn't possible for people to
fend off absolute chaos if they've got no money at all.
It'll roll out to seven million families in the next five years.
Labour's shadow welfare secretary wants a pause,
Jac Holmes went from Bournemouth to Syria to fight IS.
Now he's been killed after the City fell.
We'll hear from a friend who also left the UK,
He says he bankrolled Brexit, he certainly put some pounds into UKIP.
Hello. There's no point in having a great idea
with a plan and a blueprint, lots of fancy marketing,
if you then completely screw up the implementation.
Well, MPs debated the government's flagship welfare policy -
Universal Credit - again today, and the overriding
question is whether it falls into that category of
It's a big reform, a simplifying one, six benefits merged into one.
But the simple fact is, that for too many people
for whom it is designed, it isn't working.
Basically, the transition period, I think people will find it quite
difficult, because you obviously have to go online and sign
up to Universal Credit, and then they give you the appointment
at the Job Centre, which takes about two weeks.
So, you can't apply for the advance payment until you have that
interview with the guy at the Job Centre.
But, within that time, I obviously had no money,
so I had to rely on family and friends to help me out, and then
when I did actually get the advance payment,
I had to pay back some of the family and friends,
with that payment, so yeah, I mean, it is hard.
They do make it quite difficult for you, you have to do everything
online, you have to phone a number, that's not free, so I had to go
to the Citizens Advice Bureau to make the phone call and stuff.
Ironically, the government set out ideas to help people in debt today,
and yet, Citizens Advice say that the government's
own Universal Credit is itself forcing people into debt.
It's not just the seven day waiting period when you apply,
or the fact, after seven days, you then have a month of assessment
before getting payments; it's also the lack of help
It is as though the benefit is administered for the convenience
of the provider, rather than the recipient.
Well, Universal Credit has been a huge controversy in Westminster,
many MPs have faced the wrath of constituents
Which is why it came up yet again today.
Our political editor Nick Watt has been looking at the pressure
I'm going to have to ask you to leave... In motive, painful and
politically toxic. Welfare reform is perilous for politicians of all
hues. Run the mouse up the screen. Not like that... The Ken Loach film
I, Daniel Blake, struck a chord. With its betrayal of an uncaring
system. Universal Credit, this government's
flagship welfare reform joins a long list of troubled projects, delayed
by years, are set by technical hitches, and challenged on the Tory
benches, but it limps on. I think if Universal Credit is not
changed, we will have some real tragedies happening in our society.
It just simply isn't possible for people to be able to stay in their
accommodation if they are in the private sector, to fend off absolute
chaos if they've got no money at all. Today, the government found
itself defending Universal Credit in the second parliamentary debate in a
week. In every phase and in every respect, the development of
Universal Credit has been all about enhancing the way it helps you get
into work, and get on in work. Already, Universal Credit is
transforming lives, and we want more families to benefit from the
satisfaction, from the self-esteem, and from the financial security that
comes from progressing to a job, a better job and a career.
So just what is Universal Credit? It was first piloted in 2012, was meant
to be fully up and running by this year, and fully rolled out by 2022.
Essentially, it rolls six in work and out of work benefits into one
simpler system. Also, it aims to encourage work by ensuring that
claimants receive more take home pay if they work extra hours.
There is deep frustration in Downing Street that Universal Credit is
under constant attack, because ministers feel it is a highly
progressive reform, thanks to the way in which it in centre rises
work. The Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke believes he is
involved in something of a rescue mission to salvage this landmark
reform. In his eyes, many of today's problems were caused by the failure
of the architect of the scheme, Iain Duncan Smith, to appreciate the vast
challenge of introducing such a wide-ranging reform.
David Gauke is not giving much away at the moment, but Downing Street is
looking seriously at implementing the main demand by Tory backbench
critics to reduce the initial payment period from six weeks to
four, or to abolish the so-called seven waiting days, in which no
benefits are paid in the first week. If the government is feeling
particularly ambitious, it could look at two further reforms,
allowing people to earn more before their benefits first start being
reduced. This would be juiced George Osborne's cup to the worker
allowance, costing around ?2 billion. Changing the rate at which
benefits are reduced as someone earns more money, the Chancellor cut
the tape rate from 65 to 63% in the budget. Some Cabinet ministers want
this to go down to 60%. This would cost around 500 million per
percentage point cut. One of the main Tory backbench critics says the
government will have two move. With Universal Credit, it is a cobbler
Kate did benefit. I pick everybody will blame everybody else. My
understanding is a huge number of people leading the project lost
their jobs, some resigned and some couldn't cope. The problem is, for
me, the waiting time of six weeks, we want it reduced to four rates,
and we want to see the table rate reduced. Step-by-step, the
government is pressing ahead with Universal Credit. The challenge is
to ensure that the eventual merits of the system will overcome memories
of its troubled birth. We did ask the government to join us
tonight but nobody was available. However, with me
are Debbie Abrahams, Labour's Shadow Secretary of State
for Work Pensions. And Edward Boyd, Managing Director
of Centre for Social Justice, and a former advisor
to Iain Duncan Smith. Thanks, both, for coming in. Can we
get a bit detailed, because it is quite interesting. Let's start with
this every -- seven-day period. You apply and nothing happens for seven
days. It should go. We have been clear that at least a week should be
removed. The government said they wanted to have a system that
replicated real life in terms of work and waiting for a month before
you got your first support, but this is more than that in six weeks.
This... This is the sum of the six weeks and seven days. What was the
thinking? When we originally designed this, there was no
seven-day weight. I will agree on this. I don't think any government
of any cover is thankful reforming welfare. Labour trying to bring in
tax credits in 2003, or this government with Universal Credit,
one thing everyone is missing is, when this is fully rolled out, the
estimate is 300,000 more people will be in work. That was based on 2014 -
15 data. That is disingenuous to say that,
Ed. 300,000 before, and that data rolled out past any changes the
government has made. It is still a massive effect. We have got from
you, and admission, you would get rid of the seven-day waiting period.
It saves 140 million, there was a Russian now that people out of work
for a short period of time would need benefits, but it is not the
right thing. Next one, it is not the first seven-day waiting period, but
paying people monthly in arrears. That one is training you to have the
benefit system aligned with the way work works. The figures published
yesterday showed that people on the lowest incomes, a quarter are paid
weekly or monthly. Weekly or fortnightly. We want to have
alternative pay arrangements that are offered to everyone, not the
obscure arrangement in guidance we have now that nobody seems to know
what to do about, everybody has a chance to have alternative pay
fortnightly, also, it doesn't go to a single householder, which happens
at the moment, which is predominantly men. It is
discriminatory against women. It should be split, if that is an
option. The housing element can go directly to the landlord. Ed, when
you designed paying people a month in arrears, was that a problem or is
it a feature of the system you devised? It is a positive thing.
When rolled out, 7 million or 8 million will be on Universal Credit.
Several will be in work. The overwhelming majority will be paid
monthly to make sure that Universal Credit works with being in work, you
had to have them working. If you have benefit pay fortnightly or
separate from that, your earnings will go up and down, and be very
difficult to manage your income. For those people, it works well.
Foremost, it does, but people that struggle managing money for a month,
and there are reports of quite a view, they are used to getting money
which they spend. It may sound patronising, but that is what
everybody says is the fact. You say that. I am worried we will argue
about data, but 3% of jobs are paid fortnightly in the UK. It is a tiny
proportion of people who are paid at that level. This is where Universal
Credit is revolution every. Instead of saying, you can't budget well, so
we will adapt the system to you. It says that you can make sure that you
can get a budget advance if you need it. It is about changing someone's
life. If you can't manage money well, we will help you get
somewhere. It is transformational. The principal... No, no, that is not
fair. The principal, we support, but what Ed is describing isn't there.
The principles about simple vacation and ensuring work pay, getting into
work, progressing to work, that doesn't happen. Then we have the
administrative clock ups. Good idea, badly executed? I mentioned at the
outset about single householder, the fact it is only paid monthly, we
also have the fact that severe disability premiums weren't
transferred across. The most severely disabled people are about
?3200... I could go on. Some people are worse off. But when you devised
it, you weren't quite as mean as it has turned out to be. If you going
to do something as ambitious as that, doesn't it make sense to spend
money on it and make it work in the early days, rather than having it
discredited by penny-pinching? We invented it slightly more generously
than it is now. The first important point before that to say, if you
look at all the data in amongst all the changes, people are more likely
to be in work and earning more money under this system rather than the
old system. It is not perfect, but it is better... Some groups say.
With different family structures, that is not always the case. Single
parents are definitely worse. A single-parent nurse, I had, she had
a six-week delay, the red arrears notice when I went to see her. I can
respond to that, briefly, with single parents, you can take a case
study like that, but on the whole, if you are a single-parent with two
kits, under the old system, working 16 hours, the new system has 63%. We
are getting the dazzled with numbers. We will see if the
government reforms on this in the next few days. Thank you both very
much. Jac Holmes, a 24 year old man
from Bournemouth who went to join Kurdish forces in the fight
against so-called Islamic State Just a week after the liberation
of the city, he was reportedly helping to clear the city of mines
and explosives when he was killed. Mr Holmes had been fighting Isis
off and on since 2015. He appeared in a television
interview as recently as last month, speaking in Raqqa to the BBC's
Quentin Sommerville. This isn't your country,
it's not your war, why are you here? I think the fight against
Daesh is everyone's war. There's Daesh all over Europe,
especially in England, and we need to stop them here and in Iraq,
or they're going to spread. Well, he was fighting with the YPG,
a Kurdish force, which is a big part of the SDF,
the Syrian Democratic Forces. Another British man
who had gone out to fight He spent a lot of time
in Syria with Mr Holmes - and I spoke to him earlier
from a YPG base on the I have known Jac Holmes for three
years now. I met him on the very day he arrived in Syria, in 2015. And I
have known him ever since. He was a passionate humanitarian. He cared
very deeply about Syria. And he was someone that had a real hatred for
Isis and everything based at four. What do you know of what happened
yesterday that took Jac's life. Temporary map was pulling security.
While they were clearing buildings, forcing civilians to return home,
and unfortunately there was a suicide vest that had been missed.
That was hidden, and left behind by the Islamic State.
And it was in a very volatile state, and it detonated
Obviously, the battle for Raqqa was over, what were his plans?
He's been fighting now, for three years.
He's been a very passionate advocate for solidarity
with the Kurdish people, with the Syrian people,
and he's been pushing for the British government to do
more to help the SDF in solidifying their games,
and actually injecting some humanitarian invade, and investment
The only way he could do that was by coming home
and sharing his experiences, talking about what he did
And really, to explain really what he was doing there.
The fact that the battle for Raqqa was over, and he was getting ready
to return makes this terribly, terribly tragic, doesn't it.
Yeah, it's a devastating blow for the international volunteers,
and for all the people volunteering here, both on the humanitarian side
He cared a lot about democracy, about people.
The Yazidi people were very close to his heart.
And his death has been a huge blow to us all.
Coming just as we have liberated Raqqa at the end
of his last tour in Syria, it shows you how dangerous
the Islamic State is, how terrible their legacy mines are,
and how we really need to invest in the country,
and Detry start rebuilding in a much more positive way than we are
and actually start rebuilding in a much
more positive way than we are
Give us a sense, if you would come of that battle for Raqqa
and the role the international fighters had in it.
The battle for Raqqa was incredibly, incredibly dangerous.
It was a war of attrition, there were a lot of snipers,
there were a lot of minds being used very effectively.
I mean, the Americans, for the first time, have invested
I heard more bombs fall on Raqqa them all the bombs that I have
It was extraordinary, real shock and awe.
But at the same time, I personally was overwhelmed
And really what the foreign volunteers have achieved as well.
The British Foreign Office do not recommend that people go out
They are always saying this is a very, very
No regrets that you went out there, despite what we now know,
the terrible, terrible losses of comrades and friends.
I've never regretted the morality of what I've done,
I came out here as a humanitarian, as someone who is a humanist,
And when I came out in 2014, when Jac came out in 2015,
there was no help coming from the international community.
There were no jets in the sky, there was no military
support on the ground, very little humanitarian support
So we've seen a massive change over the last three years.
And I hope, in some small way, that the international volunteers
have shown the world that internationalism is still very
strong, that solidarity and compassion is still
But you are now on your way home now?
I am indeed on my way home to my family.
But for me, only half the battle is done.
I am going to go straight home, and I'm them to tell people
what I have been doing out here, why I have been here,
and what the options are for the future, cause Assad
I would hope that the SDF is now the Democratic opposition to asset
I would hope that the SDF is now the Democratic opposition to Assad
and we finally have a plan for peace in Syria.
One of Nigel Farage's good personal and political friends
He's not a household name, but he is a big player
on the populist right of UK politics.
He was there with Nigel Farage when he met Donald Trump just
after the US election; he has a feisty presence on Twitter
and he's a vocal critic of the BBC's Brexit coverage.
He made his money in insurance and he spent some of it on UKIP
and then on the Leave.EU campaign, the unoffocial brexit campaign,
and then on the Leave.EU campaign, the unoffocial Brexit campaign,
His book chronicling the exploits of that campaign -
the Bad Boys of Brexit - is now, apparently, being made
The narrative is he's not really a bad boy at all -
but a patriot prepared to play dirty to save his country.
But has Banks been taking some artistic license with the truth?
John Sweeney reports - but not from Hollywood.
Arron Banks started on the long road to Hollywood back in 2014,
when he reacted to a put-down by top Tory William Hague,
When I woke up this morning, intending to donate ?100,000
to Ukip, I understand that Mr Hague called me a nobody?
So, in light of that, I decided today to donate ?1 million
to the party and not the 100,000 we originally agreed.
I was hoping that Mr Hague will now know who I am.
I think after this lot, he might just do!
This is the moment Arron Banks first entered public life.
I am a self-made person, I made my money from a desk
But with Mr Banks' businessman, or political high roller,
what you see is not quite what you get.
His manor is mortgaged and Mr Banks does not live here,
it is a wedding venue, owned by one of his companies.
Arron Banks is a multimillionaire with a jet set lifestyle.
He is made out to be a bit like Blofeld and this
It is somewhere near Bristol and it is handy for the house
Bought for around ?900,000 and with ?500,000 on the mortgage.
Arron Banks owns Eldon, a car insurance brokerage registered here.
Go Skippy.com, cheaper car insurance.
He hopes to float Eldon's parent group for 250 million quid.
A valuation that got him into The Sunday Times Rich List.
Banks claims Eldon will make ?24 million profit this year,
up from only 300,000 last year, should we believe it?
If you move from less than half a million profit in one year
to 24 million the next year, I wish every other company could do
that, but it is really quite big by any standard.
A phenomenal turnaround, I would say.
Arron Banks told Newsnight that the ?250 million valuation is
He says new AI, artificial intelligence tech is
But there has been trouble with Eldon's numbers in the past.
They said a breakdown in the relationship has occurred
because by failing to supply accurate information,
management is imposing a limitation of scope on our work.
Not so, says Mr Banks, the auditors resigned
Banks also has an insurance underwriting business,
It seems to pay out more in claims and expenses
When we look at the Gibraltar market as a whole the year ending 2015,
on average, the market takes in a pound a premium and pays out
If you look at the largest five motor insurance
companies in Gibraltar, they only pay out 92p
in claims and expenses, so 8p in every pound
that they generate is moved towards profit.
For Southern Rock, they pay out ?2.86p for every ?1
So that is nearly three times as much as Southern Rock
Mr Banks' lawyers told us we had drawn serious
On Southern Rock, they said this comparison is not an indicator
that is applied to or appropriate to be applied to Southern Rock.
Because it is not a pure underwriter and has
These figures do not take account of that.
They suggested another yardstick but only gave us figures for one
They declined to offer data for previous years for us to analyse.
Mr Banks' lawyers also told us that Southern Rock's profitability
was a matter of public record and that it made 42 million
But that profit came from recapitalisation,
in other words, a cash injection from another bank's business.
Another of Mr Banks' businesses has also been
Mr Banks was the sole director and one of only two shareholders
in a company called African Compass Trading.
It sold a herbal substitute for Viagra called Star 150.
It's slogan, naturally, every man wants to be
Even herbal medicines need approval by the regulator, the MHRA.
They told us, as part of a criminal investigation in 2014,
into the sale and supply of an authorised medicine
into the sale and supply of unauthorised medicine
or products, they seized around ?50,000 worth of Star 150 pills
They told us their investigation is closed and to the best
of Newsnight's knowledge, it has not resulted
Mr Banks told Newsnight that African Compass Trading shut down
three and a half years ago, owing to, in his words,
A few run-ins with regulators and auditors, that is
The Electoral Commission is already investigating leave.EU,
a company controlled by Mr Banks about its conduct during
Newsnight has uncovered disturbing evidence that raises questions
about his political funding, even before the Brexit vote.
In September, 2014, Tory MP Mark Reckless triggered
a by-election in Rochester and Strood in Kent when
Five former employees told us that staff from Mr Banks' company
were asked to go to Rochester to help the Ukip campaign.
We have got the number of an insurance salesman
And we are told he also went to the Rochester by-election.
We had, like, a photo and then we were like chaperoning
You were chaperoning people, to the polling stations, yes?
Were they Ukip voters or everybody voters?
Well, it was for Ukip, it was all there for Ukip, so, yes,
Probably between ten and 15 cars, I expect.
I wasn't deducted any pay for being out of the office, so,
you could say that I was paid for the two days that I was there.
One estimate of the cost of 15 drivers ferrying voters
to the polls would be ?9,000, a sum that would have put Ukip's
The Tories, of course, are also in trouble for failing
to declare election expenses on a larger scale than this.
Mark Reckless told Newsnight neither I nor my agent authorised
spending except that which was appropriately declared.
But we found no record of this spending in the returns.
So where does that leave Arron Banks?
It is only lawful if you stay within the regulated proceedings
for spending money for the purposes of the election of the candidates.
If you go outside of it, it is unlawful on the part
of the third party who organised the assistance, Mr Banks
If they did it and incurred those costs, without the authority
of the agent, as it appears that they may have done,
that is called an illegal practice and it is an offence,
Arron Banks told us all expenditure incurred during the by-election
was properly expensed in full and notified to Ukip at the time.
But the party's record-keeping, he said, left something to be desired.
No prosecution is on the cards because a criminal allegation has
to be made within one year of any potential offence.
But this story bites because after Rochester,
the BBC along with other broadcasters gave Ukip
and its party leader Nigel Farage a much bigger platform.
Hollywood loves a winner, the Arron Banks box set may well
binge on his business antics, but playing fast and
That may not go down so well at the box office.
We did invite Mr Banks to join us tonight but we are told
In a statement he told us: "Since the referendum result
and my support for Donald Trump, I have been the subject
of politically motivated attacks by the 'mainstream media'
It comes as no surprise that "Newsnight" would join
the party at this late stage with their own particular
type of trashy 'News of the World' journalism!"
He added: "After allegations of me being a "Russian spy, part
of a worldwide conspiracy to subvert democracy,
the only surprise is how long it's taken Newsnight
to have a pop at me! BBC Fake news is alive and well!"
Cramming one opinion into two minutes.
Tonight, the trade economist Shanker Singham, from the think tank
the Legatum Institute, looks at how we might get
The Harvey Weinstein case has ignited a debate about the quiet
It feels as though we have re-calibrated attitudes,
so that it is no longer quiet, or tolerated.
But one important aspect of the cover-up of sexual predation
has come under examination today: it's the role of compensation
settlements for victims attached to non-disclosure agreements
designed to keep them quiet about what happened.
The Financial Times today reported on a former London-based assistant
She was harassed by Weinstein; a colleague of hers was assaulted.
They wanted to report it, but they were put under pressure
by phalanxes of lawyers, both Weinstein's and their own,
Zelda Perkins thus kept quiet, and that's why she hasn't
So should we tolerate these contracts?
With me is the lawyer Harini Iyengar, who works
in this field and has drawn up similar agreements.
In Washington is Maya Raghu, director of Workplace and Equality
Thanks for joining us. Harini Iyengar, I want to start with you,
are these enforceable? Is Zelda Perkins said something, it she
presumably will not be chased up now? If she said something to years
after they had signed it, could he have won in court if she reported
it? It depends. It depends on the circumstances. So far, we only know
what was in the FT. She used the word to rest. If she entered into a
contract under duress, under pressure, it wouldn't be
enforceable. Certainly, the kind of settlement I am involved in between
two parties advised and have decided it is the best way to resolve a
dispute. She was legally advised, but as she described it, there were
a lot of lawyers. She is a young woman, a bunch of men sitting across
her table, would a judge recognised that as an intimidating by its
nature? If she didn't exercise free will, the contract shouldn't be
enforceable. Do you think these contracts are desirable? I do,
actually. You have two distinguished the criminal aspect of rape and
sexual assault. Unfortunately, in the last few years, I have had three
cases that did involve rape. They are not entirely separate. When we
look at employment tribunal, litigation in particular, sexual
harassment, that is getting compensation in monetary form. Why
do you need to attach to that that you don't tell people what has
happened? It is on the basis the allegations are not admitted. It
avoids expensive litigation. Litigation can be in private if
there is a sexual harassment element to it, but it is still stressful. I
maintain it is better. You might advise a woman to go with it? Many
women want to get it over with and take the compensation. They want to
get proper compensation that reflects what they would have got if
and when they had gone to court. Maya Raghu, I am interested in what
you think on this. I think there are circumstances in which N'Diaye as
are important and useful for individuals that are coming forward
to complain about sexual harassment or assault. However, generally in
the US, they have been used to silence victims to cover up the
extent of sexual harassment in some workplaces, and really to shield
serious harassers from any serious accountability. There are a couple
of key differences from what we were just hearing. In the US, mini
workers will end up negotiating settlement agreements with their
employer, in case of sexual harassment without an attorney. That
is because the vast majority of victims simply don't have access or
resource to hire an attorney. Many of these workers are in low-wage
jobs and in fast food industries or retail, and it is not a realistic
option to have someone even advise them on their options, let alone on
the terms of a settlement agreement. Many women suffer in silence and
don't come forward because they think they are the only ones, and
that acts to prevent others from coming forward and revealing the
extent of a problem. Harini, how do we get out of the fact that the
lawyers were part of the cover-up for Weinstein? He made multiple
settlements. The process didn't work. I have not come across
settlement agreements where the sum of money seems very large compared
to what one thinks APA would be earning, and indeed, what you might
get. She was on 20,000. Looking without the details, it seems
greatly inflated, and that causes concern. As a business, why is a
business, and what would the shareholders and board had to say
about excessive sums of money being spent on an employee's behaviour? Do
you think the whole existence of this institution with no
whistle-blowing around it, does actually foster the secrecy and
cover up of Weinstein type cases? I do. Especially in cases like we have
in the US, where there is such a power imbalance between the worker
and employer, especially if the worker is unrepresented. That is
when you can get settlement agreements with nondisclosure
agreements that sometimes prevent them from talking about the
underlying acts, even if they would constitute a crime in the US. What
would you do... Sorry to cut you off, what would you do about it? One
of the things we have done is we recently launch the first national
legal network for gender equity to help women and vulnerable people
experiencing sex as cremation and harassment, in implement and in
schools, to give them advice and connect them to a network of
attorneys across the country that can help them. The second thing is
we know there are legislators across the country, whether in Congress or
in the States, who think about a legislative solution. And very
briefly, you would never allow here, would you, a cover-up of a criminal
offence? In a sentence. Neither from the women or the business side.
Thank you both very much indeed. We leave you with the work
of Hadar Averbuch-Elor and Daniel Cohen-Or,
of the University of Tel Aviv, who have developed software that
automates and simplifies the process of bringing still photos
to life with 3D animation. It's known that Facebook are
also involved, so expect to see the effect bringing joy
to your newsfeed - or possibly creeping you out -
sooner rather than later.