15/04/2012 Sunday Politics East Midlands


Andrew Neil and Marie Ashby with the latest political news, interviews and debate.

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At this is East Midlands Today false start it is the Budget that


keeps on giving but not in a good way. How much damage is being done


Why should it thousands of East Midlands families at lose tax


credits when millionaires get off so lightly? And why should they


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1730 seconds


Hello, I am Marie Ashby. With me, the Conservative MP for Sherwood,


Mark Spencer, and Jon Ashworth, Labour MP for Leicester South.


Later, sleeping four to a bed, the plight of refugees and asylum-


seekers and the volunteers determined to provide them with


homes fit to live in. Plus the council that threaten to


evict Arthur Martin from his allotment.


First, from this week, thousands of families in the East Midlands have


lost up to �80 in tax credits. Over a year, many stand to lose nearly


�4,000. At the same time, the Chancellor says he is shocked to


discover some of the richest people are paying only 10% in income tax.


How can the coalition still pretend we are all in this together, Mark


Spencer? We have got to get as much tax as we can out of the rich. The


truth is, it is very difficult. Some of these companies and


individuals are very good at moving the goalposts to avoid paying tax.


As a government, we have got to find a system which ties them down


and makes sure they pay the right amount. They have got to stop


people avoiding it? I agree. But let us revisit what is happening.


68,000 families across the East Midlands are losing out. 3500 in


Leicester, one doesn't 500 in show would. I was talking to a mum of


took in Mark's constituency. She is losing �500 a year and yet if you


are a millionaire in show what you are getting a �40,000 tax cut. That


is not right. You must be hearing similar stories? It takes some


explaining. The reality is that it is very difficult to tie some of


these very rich people down. We need to find a system that does it


and stops is people avoiding paying the tax. Sometimes, the best way to


do that is simplify the tax system and make it more simple soap when


they make more money they pay more tax. Why is it fair that if you are


a millionaire, the Tuzla has given the way for �2,000 tax cut. -- the


Chancellor. -- has given you a �40,000 tax cut. To be fair, we


have lifted the tax threshold pretty high, over �9,000, so that


hard-working families pay less tax. I recognise some of the Commons Jon


is making but the reality is it is about getting as much tax... David


Cameron says that in seven years the amount we spend on tax credits


has increased from �18 billion to a �30 billion a year. He is saying it


is out of control. At the last general election, it David Cameron


said families on �50,000 would not get tax credits. He has cut it back


to �26,000. You will now be better off on the minimum wage claiming


tax credits but but but you would be better off on the dole. You do


not want people to think they are better off on benefits. We do not


want people to think that. Some of the anomalies as we go through the


process of changing it takes some changing. We are going in the right


direction but there is more work to be done. Is expecting couples to


work a total of three days a week between them unreasonable?


Working Tax Credits are there to help mums particularly moving to


work. We as the government are increasing the number of hours you


need to work to claim the tax credits... You are forcing women


out of work. We know the economy is in the doldrums. The labour market


is tight. I was in Morrisons the other week in my constituency


talking to people about this. People are worried that they will


not be able to increase their hours. We will have a crazy situation


where you are better off to be on the dole. The they are worried


about feeding their families. We are worried about the Gulf getting


bigger between the haves and the have-nots. People are now stealing


to feed themselves, we have had. That is terrible. We have got to


make the system fair for everyone. At the moment, there are a number


of anomalies. If you have a partner, you may be asked to work more


hours... The work is not always there in reality. Absolutely. That


is where we are out in the economic cycle. We are doing as much as we


can to improve the economy so that jobs are created. We inherited


frankly this poisoned chalice. us not go back to what you


inherited. Leave it there for the moment. With so many people


struggling to get by, it is harder to mobilise support for people like


refugees and asylum-seekers. Volunteers in one of our cities are


so angry about the conditions many have to live in they have decided


to do something about it. These volunteers are on a mission


to sort out the squalid conditions some asylum-seekers and refugees


find themselves in. They are doing an inventory of properties across


Nottingham. They are gathering evidence on their housing


conditions. I have seen holes in ceilings, gaps in walls, damp. All


of which are not conducive to healthy living. Rhino and her --


Rose and her five children live in this rooms. She is not able to


claim benefits and nor is she able to work. There is overcrowding,


there is a fungus affecting our health. The house is very cold. I


can't afford to pay for the gas. Welcome. Zarif travelled from


Afghanistan to start a life peer. He has been homeless since arriving


five years ago. This is my house. That is your stuff? Yes. I feel so


sad because everyone has a nice house and a nice job. I would love


to have a family and I would love to have a wife. I would love to do


a job. By and 21 years old. I have a lot of times. What we want to do


is do a quality piece of research into destitution to be able to


quantified and identify where people are saying. We also want


taxpayers to get value for money in the accommodation provided by the


state. Local authorities estimate that in Nottingham there are about


400 asylum-seekers. In Derby, just under 300. In Leicester, around 450.


Councillors at Nottingham City Council have told me they


wholeheartedly support the work the citizens are doing. We were told no


one was available to be interviewed today. Helping asylum-seekers and


refugees at a time when local people are struggling to get by is


something politicians often struggle to justify. Citizens of a


Century plans to publish findings by June. -- citizens of The century.


It is all our responsibility in civil society to expose what is


going on and ask politicians to be accountable for the part they play.


I am keen that we own our communities and what happens in


them and I think that is what is called the Big Society. For these


asylum-seekers, it does not matter what it is called. They just need


help. It is not a normal life that a woman of my age... I feel so sad


and so tired. Sometimes I cried because of the situation. We live


in the shadow. We live like a rat underground. Alain Joeb has joined


us, a refugee from the Cameroons. First, I want to find out where our


MPs stand on this. The volunteers are disgusted that we do so little


to help asylum-seekers. Do you agree with them? I think I do on


balance. Asylum-seekers should be treated with dignity. I think the


border agency has got to deal with what is known as legacy cases


quickly and fairly. They have not been doing that. Under my own


government, we were not doing it quickly enough although going back


20 years or 15 years we were never doing it quickly enough. We have


got to get legacy cases sorted out. I see it in my constituency all the


time. By using more of it? I am seeing people not getting their


responses and quick responses. -- are using more of it? It happened


under John Major government, under the current government, under my


government. To give you a quick example, I recently met some young


men, 18, 19, in my constituency from Afghanistan. They came here


when they were 10 years old. They have still not been told what their


status as. That is not fair. Absolutely. When you see the way


that some of these asylum-seekers are having to live, do you accept


we have to do more? It is about getting the balance right. There


does not seem to be any balance. They have to live in a cave, for


example. A we are taking quite a few of these asylum-seekers... We


cannot be the refugees home of the world. We need to do our share but


we have just spent 10 minutes talking about the challenges facing


hard working UK families. We have got to look after them as well.


they come first? We need to do our fair share and at the moment it


feels as though the proportions are tipping the long way. What happens?


Does somebody like Zarif... Does he have to keep living in a cave?


has travelled from Afghanistan and travelled through lots of other


modern countries like France, Germany, Belgium. Why did he end up


in the UK having travelled through all of those countries? He may say,


why shouldn't he? We need to do our bit. We have to look after our own.


The let us hear Alain Joeb's story. You fled prosecution in the


Cameroon and it took you 10 years to get refugee status. Can you


describe to me how you survived during that period? It was terrible.


I fled Cameroon in 2000 after I was caught up in politics between the


government in place on the opposition. I was locked up, beaten


terribly. The charity in London identified 68 scars over my body.


They recorded that I was systematically abused. When I came


to make the application, there was total disbelief. For 10 years, I


lost my wife for years ago... Until today, I cannot visit my wife


because there was no resources for me available. I was not allowed to


work for 10 years. I was not allowed to use my skills. They


vanished within the 10 years. I remember receiving something...


That is how you have had to live? I cannot imagine what that must have


been light. But now you have your own business. You have got a food


stall in the Victoria Centre in Nottingham. How is that working


out? I hear it it is popular. Exciting. I am grateful to the


resilience of the local people in Nottingham. They have been


extremely supportive. They really helped me out. My work within the


local community has been valuable and I am really happy today. Some


people would say you have been lucky to find the right help. What


we do say to Mark Spencer when he says that the situation is that we


have to look after our own people first? I think Mark will accept


that we cannot tolerate a family of four sleeping in one single bed. We


cannot tolerate a young man where they he has come from to be


sleeping in a cemetery where the dead people are. Something needs to


change. The government has a duty of care to everyone who finds


themselves here. They need to provide for these people the basic


things for them to survive. heard earlier in the film saying


that politicians are generally reluctant to speak out in support


of asylum-seekers. When you hear what is happening, do we not have


to be a bit braver and say, he is right. They deserve a better life.


We should be able to help them, no matter what our own problems are.


would say that politicians should always talk about the issues they


believe in and should not try and cut their words for what they think


would be most popular with the public. I know some politicians do


that. I do not think Mark does that actually. I don't think I do that.


This man has come here and he is running a small business and


contributing to the Nottingham economy. I could take you down to


lots of small businesses in Leicester where people have come


here and saw refugee status and have been granted it and are now


running small businesses. But there are other people... Look at Zarif


living in his cave, surviving, barely surviving on �10 a month.


That is from the charity. That is all he gets. He is desperate to


work. Shouldn't we let him work? have also got a UK residents in the


same circumstances who are homeless and find themselves in desperate


circumstances. We need to make our fair share -- do our fair share,


help these people, whether they come from in the world. But we can


only do so many. Other nations need to step up as well and help us out.


It is about getting the proportion right. It comes back to this point


I made at the start. That young man's status needs to be resolved


as quickly as possible. If the border Agency and the authorities


decide he should not have refugee status, they should remove him from


the country in the fairest way and with dignity. That is the issue is


a start you would agree that these things need to be moved on more


quickly. 10 years was far too long in your case. You had to endure


terrible things in that time. need certainly to speed up. It is


not our duty to move somebody on let somebody's day. In Nottingham


and in the United Kingdom... As a citizen, my concern is for human


beings being treated fairly and humanely. You will accept that we


cannot tolerate that a family of four is in a single bed. That is


not the kind of society we want to live in. Or indeed a young man


sleeping in the cemetery. That should be shock us. We appreciate


already that the representative in the Midlands are supporting our


commission in addressing the issue and finding a solution. But more


has to be done? More has to be done. Time now for our round-up. Here is


With the news that Dutch company is planning to take over rally,


Nottingham North MP is calling for the world-famous company to move


back to his home city. In its heyday, it employed 8000 workers.


Their report to Derbyshire County Council recommends its main


opposition leader should get thousands of pounds more in


allowances. But current Labour leader says she has no intention of


claiming any more than she does now. Lib Dem MEP has been elected a full


member of a new European Parliament committee on organised crime. It


plans tougher action on corruption and human trafficking.


Finally, Eastwood Town Council has reversed a decision to evict


pensioner Arthur Martin from his allotment after a public outcry


against claims that he is not fit enough to work it. We are going to


move on from this. We have learnt from it. We are going to work


together, this council. What do you think of that last


story? Eastwood Council has climbed down now but only after protesters


accused them of over-reacting. think they lost the plot, frankly!


There are some things that politicians should get involved in


and some that they shouldn't. We should encourage in -- be


encouraging people to get out and keep fit. Did they lose the plot,


Jon? Yes, I think they did. I am jealous that I did not think of


that line! It was clearly a barmy decision from Eastwood Town Council.


They said he had a dodgy hip then they tried to make out that they


were doing it in his best interests. Terribly patronising. What did you


think of that? It is patronising. I am glad they have climbed down on


us. We want people garden in on their allotments. It is good for


your health. This is another result of Big Society and shows the power


of the other a lot when holders. is symptomatic of how we have ended


up looking at the state to interfere and make these nanny


state decisions. We need to let people live their own lives.


shows that ordinary people have more power than the they think.


That is good news was that back could be interesting in the run-up


to the local elections! Thank you both what joining me. -- thank you


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