29/01/2012 Sunday Politics East


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In the East... Where does it all go? We all pay tax, so shouldn't we


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2020 seconds


And are housing benefit changes Welcome to Sunday Politics East.


I am Amelia Reynolds. Coming up, as rents rise, local housing


allowances are failing to keep up. It is leaving some families facing


the prospect of losing their home. But first, let us meet this week's


guests. On home turf, the Lib Dem MP for Cambridge, Julian Huppert.


And Bob Blizzard, the former Labour MP for Waveney and its prospective


parliamentary candidate. I want to ask about this week's


growth figures or lack of them. The UK economy shrank by more than


expected at the end of fleshier, with growth falling by 0.2% and


debt topping a trillion Pounds. Are we heading for that double-dip


recession? It is not encouraging. We have not managed to pick up from


problems in 2008. But the East of England is doing relatively better.


Cambridge won a big accolade. There was a study showing that 80 is a


city doing the best across the country, still delivering, with


unemployment coming down. Long-term unemployment and youth unemployment


is going down. It is very good news. Bob blizzard, Labour said they


would keep the cuts. So you would - - so we would still be in the same


position if you were in charge. What we can see this week is


absolutely clear. David Cameron has got it wrong. We are going through


the pain of higher taxes and lower pensions and pay. We have record


deck of a trillion pounds and we are not even an economy that is


standing still, it is shrinking. The coalition has got it wrong,


cutting too deep, too far. The is no getting away from the cuts or


getting out of paying your taxes. But do we know what the taxes are


spent on. One Suffolk MP has a cunning plan. He revealed all in


the House of Commons this week. Around 26 million people pay income


tax every year, but none of us know where it goes. Benefits, transport.


Schools, hospitals. Maybe defence? Who knows? Would you like to know?


Riding to the rescue, the MP for Essex. If he gets his way, we will


all get a statement telling us higher taxes are spent. It would be


a national water cooler moment. Instead of talking about the latest


television, he believes week will be intrigued, amazed or even out


raged at how taxes are spent. This is the sort of big round someone on


�2,000 would go on benefits, just over �1,000 on NHS and over �800 on


education. �92 on roads and �53 on You would not expect to know -- you


would expect to know what you pay for in a restaurant. You should


know what your taxes are spent on. It can be meaningless hearing about


Chileans. But having a statement would make it more realistic. --


meaning with hearing about trillions. This is just a puff


piece. There is one MP that thinks this would be a waste of money, but


it has been well received amongst many.


And we are joined by Ben Gummer. Why do you think it is all


important to know every last detail? Aren't there more important


things to worry about? It is our biggest outgoing and we are told


nothing about how much we pay and where it goes, meaning that or


representatives like me and was then the studio, it makes it


difficult to connect with voters to say where money is going and


decisions made. It is utterly bizarre that we hand over thousands


and thousands of pounds to the Government, get we have no


explanation of how that is spent. The figures are interesting. About


�2,000 goes on pensions and benefits if you earn �25,000. Isn't


this going to fuel controversy, with people saying they do not want


their money spent on that? Yes and I hope that happens. People might


engage more with the ballot box. People do not vote because they


feel no connection between what they do and what we do in


Parliament. That will make cuts of more accountable and make voters


more engaged. -- that will make us more accountable. If you take it as


25p per itemised statement, or everyone working, we are looking at


�5 million. I have given the maximum costs, which is unusual for


politicians. It could be considerably offset, going out with


existing revenue letters, or it could be sponsored by advertising.


By that point, it will cost little. The return is amazing, because for


the first time, you connect people with money which at the moment is


expressed in billions and trillions and turn it into what it means for


them. Let us bring guests into this. It is all about being accountable


and value for money. It is a good idea, giving people more


information. Some people could say we do not spend enough on some


things. That could be good. It could also dispel myths. There is a


lot of discussion about money going to be EU, which is tiny compared to


other things. Councils do do this already, sending out a list of what


is spent roughly. We could have informed discussions with people


knowing more. This would be a way forward. It is important we help


the public make a connection between taxes and what is received


on it. My one worry about Ben Gummer's suggestion is that, with


his personal itemised bill, people may look at the items they do not


like, cross that out, and maybe tried to withhold money. That is


what happened to councils when Margaret Thatcher said we had to


itemise what was there for non- collection. People with help that


amount of money and it was costly trying to recover these bits of


unpaid tax. How would you answer that? Most taxpayers paid by Pay As


You earn, so they cannot do anything. But a lot of people have


self-assessment and have to be a balance. You will find some people


saying they will not pay for that. That is what worries me. We are


talking about 5% top tax payers. But let us engage people. People


refuse to peeve their portion of the US expenditure during be


Vietnam war. -- people refuse to pay. Some people went to prison as


a result. Why not have the same things for people care about? The


war in Iraq might have been more of a problem if people could see the


cost it was causing. I voted against the Iraq war, not you


saying I voted for it. Julian would like to make a point. I would like


it if it identified things for people. I would love it both of you


parties opposed spending money on Trident. It would be good for


people to know. Then people can challenge things. I think there


will be things where people will want more money. We would go back


to the days or poll tax protests, which are a nightmare. We will have


to leave it there. Thank you very much. We shall see what happens.


More from the both of you later. We are moving on to the Government's


Welfare Reform Bill. It has suffered six defeats in the House


of Lords, with the bishops launching the assault on the


benefit cap of �26,000. Existing benefits for housing will be


integrated into this existing credit and critics claimed children


will be hardest hit the families have no where to bowl. Joseph Holt


met one family facing that. -- know where to bowl. Many more may face


them -- may find themselves in a similar situation with no where to


For Kristel Hartup and her family, time is running out. They are


desperately seeking accounts will house. Now my tenancy is ending, I


am facing becoming homeless. The only help his temporary


accommodation or privately renting, but I cannot afford that.


family has been on a waiting list for two years, but there are many


families like Harrods and not enough homes. When I am on my own,


it is a frightening place to be. We may have to live an hour away from


my mother. The council had said they will do all that the can, but


a hostel can be a short-term reality. Jimmy's Night Shelter is


home to Barry Griffiths. She had a job as a civil servant, a home and


relationship. Government cuts saw the job go, the rest soon followed.


Finding his own place again is his number one priority, but it is


difficult. We looked around one property available, but there is a


considerable shortfall between housing benefit and rental prices.


It is pretty tough as an individual to get a house in Cambridge. There


is a lot of demand for student population, or every other type of


population, with a big competition from the city council to try and


get places, especially if you are like myself. This is where the


benefits cut hit hard and it has got worse. The benefit is


calculated on a wide area, and the large part of the county,


calculated on a percentage depending on the highest and low


rents. That sets the local housing allowance to very low levels.


allowance border two bedroom property is �575 per month. There


are currently only 10 properties below �700. That is not likely to


change unless there are more properties available. There are


currently around 400 in the properties, like these. Around 100


of them are talking to the council and could end up on council books.


Given there are approaching 100 homeless households in the county,


the council say this sooner they can get hold of these empty


properties, the better. This property has been empty for five


years. South Cambridgeshire District Council recognised the


need for more stock, working alongside a company that manages


homes, more properties like this could soon have tenants. A family


in housing need will live here, perhaps one that has recently


become homeless or has been living with relatives and been asked to


leave. Perhaps someone already in a privately rented property and the


landlord needs it back. Perfect for someone like Kristel. Sadly, she


lives outside of the region -- of the area, so she has few options.


do not know how -- I do not know what to do it.


Kristl Hartup ending that report. Julian Huppert, you are campaigning


over using empty properties like the one in the film. A nice idea.


But there are just under 100 in Cambridge. We think there is more


like 1,000. The council is doing work on 100. One thing I am keen to


do is support a campaign, where you can report empty homes. If a home


has been empty for more than six months, God took the website on


empty homes. -- go to the website. We have a massive housing crisis.


There are about 7,000 people in Cambridge waiting for housing. It


is upsetting to see all these houses sitting empty. Are you


taking this to the house? I will ask a question on Monday. We need


to build housing, have more affordable housing. But also use


the stock we have already. It can make a huge difference. Labour were


on the road to welfare reform and to support a benefit cap affecting


housing benefit. The problem we have is we have something like


30,000 people in the country, their total amount of benefit is greater


than what people would regard as an average working wage. What do we do


about that? The Government's CAB will save �270 million, -- cap. But


it will make 20,000 people made him less and been to bed and breakfast.


-- made homeless. So it does not balance? We need to make sure that


people who can work are better off by working. I am upset when people


who fell into the benefit trap come to see me. People find, starting to


work ended up with less money. That is not right. You have to make sure


there is the incentive to work. People getting so much from


benefits... You will not help them by putting council association


rents up. That will put more people on to housing benefit. That is a


different issue. Housing -- council housing prices are not going up


like that. Let us talk about high rents. Cambridge is a property hot


spot. What could be done for more affordable rents? The high rents


are fuelling the amount of housing benefit. The public does not like


to see that amount of money spent on benefit. If you cut housing


benefit while rents stay high, you put people into poverty. We have


started building more council houses, which did not happen under


Labour, we have already built more social housing. We have... If I


could finish. We have built more social housing and happened and 13


years. I spoke to a housing association yesterday. Those people


would normally put up houses per year, which is decreasing because


their grant is being cut by more than 50%. We have to leave it there,


because I want to squeeze in the one minute round-up of this week's


stories. And sisters have been doing it for themselves.


This end he started the week by calling for more female faces at


the BBC. This MP -- this MP. And this is being fought for by another


woman MPs. These are relatively easy successes in real terms.


how much have attitudes changed to extra-marital affairs? There was a


new study from the centre of integrity. And the collapse of a


company providing services for the council. 1 MP spoke out. This


raises questions about how contracts are dealt with. And a


Let us pick up on that Centre for Integrity at the University of


Essex. Bob, do you tell the odd white lie? When people talk about


politicians, it is said, the local is OK, it is all the others. MPs,


journalists, bankers, we have all taking and knocking. Do you feel


that our integrity in people's views have changed? We do see


issues and politicians need to regain trust. Lots of other groups


need to do that. I think one of the things that study says is how much


people feel they are part of our society. When people knew everyone


in a village, people were honest. We need to go back to that. Would


you pick up �10 if you found it on the street? Yes. Thank you. That is


all for now. You can keep in touch through our website, where you will


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