01/07/2012 Sunday Politics North East and Cumbria


Andrew Neil and Richard Moss with the latest political news and debate including the Leader of the House of Lords, Lord Strathclyde, on plans to reform the second chamber.

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In the North East and Cumbria. Is the Government planning to pay


lower levels of benefits to people living in this region? A Lib Dem


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1684 seconds


Minister tells us he won't support Hello, and the warmest of welcomes.


My guests, Roberta Blackman-Woods and James Wharton. I suspect they


will not see eye-to-eye on our big talking point, the Government plans


to cut �10 billion from the welfare bill. Also, the onward march of the


wind turbines, have councils in our emir are learned lessons from


Scotland and ligature in their efforts to stop developments like


this. First, the government has revealed radical thinking about


benefits and who should receive them. Scrapping housing benefit for


under 20 fives is one idea, but are ministers are also considering


paying lower benefits to people in parts of the North? The idea was


floated at, but during a visit to Teesside, one Cabinet minister told


us he was not prepared to support Dis week, Danny Alexander has been


taking the long view. From 250 feet up at the top of this chemical


plant. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury was here to discuss plans


for dozens of new jobs. He is not the only one who has been gazing


into the distance. David Cameron has also been looking ahead at what


he sees as the next big challenge. How to generate not just work but


also the work ethic by cracking down on the benefits culture. Among


the ideas he has floated, the axing of housing benefit for under 25 and


a cap on benefits to families with three or more children. They are


also looking at possible local rates of benefit that could mean


lower payments in the north and in the south. To the Liberal Democrats


decree in the need to get tougher? They might be other changes that


are need -- that are needed, but we will have to debate it in the


normal way, and if we think changes are needed, we will bring them


forward. What about local rates of benefit? There is no prospect of


the Government introducing regional benefits. We have looked at local


market facing pay in the public sector, an issue which we have


asked the independent bodies to consider, but they need to come


forward with overwhelming evidence to make us move in that direction.


In terms of Richard Rowe lies in benefits, there is a non-starter.


In this part of Middlesbrough, 40% are on benefit. Less than half are


in work. You might expect people living here to be against the idea


of cuts to welfare. But opinion it is divided. The people who are


straight, they do not get treated right. It is the people who play


the system that get the cream. if he was on the door, how would he


like it? It is not on. Some people do not want to work. Definitely,


they are scared of work. They are frightened of craft. They do not


know what work is. They do not appreciate money, they have never


bandit. Differences in the government mean they have to tread


carefully on welfare reform. But evidence of public frustration in


areas like this suggests a more radical approach could win votes as


well a save money. With me now, Robert McDonald, an


expert in poverty and the benefits system. What is the Government


trying to achieve with these ideas? Is it about cutting spending or a


radical reform to get people back to work? One of the things I would


say, for me, too many of these ideas about reform, whether from


politicians or the sort that you hear in the tabloid press, they are


too often based on anecdote and myth and exceptional stories. Danny


Alexander used the word evidence. What I would stress, any talk about


welfare reform needs to be based on the evidence that we need it. In


this case, in terms of discussions about regionalisation and


incentivise Asian of benefit, we need to look at the evidence --


incentivising benefit. Our evidence is that people are desperate for


work, rather than lead in pushing or having their benefits cut


further in order to look for work. What about the idea of regional


benefits? Could that work? The government will look for ways to


cut the bill, which is massive. There are various things that we


can do. It seems that this is governed against the thrust of what


I understood what one of the key planks of the welfare reform, which


was to simplify benefits and the system. This would be introducing a


complex set of new rules about where we might draw the line


geographically between one neighbourhood and another one. I am


not sure that it is really a serious suggestion, given the


complexity of the latter. -- the matter. Any government will talk


about reducing the Bill, that is quite right, but the key way to do


it is to help people move away from benefits. The point that I would


differ on, we do that by cutting benefits, but we need to create


more jobs opportunities. There is a high rate of unemployment here.


Over 20 jobseeker's for every job. We need to create opportunities for


the people who want and need them. There was a bit of anger from a


working-class community, Middlesbrough. People think enough


is enough. We do need to look at the system and in particular we


want to get a contributory principle back into the system, so


you pay in and get money out. All political parties have to think of


this. But what the professor said, this is unworkable, but it is also


undesirable, because it will further exacerbate the divide


between north and south, it will take money out of a local economy,


and that is not a policy we want the government to pursue. They need


to concentrate on getting more jobs into this region and others.


Everybody agrees, but actually, is there a disincentive for people to


work? When there is a system where the pay is lower here than ours


where cover it is marginally beneficial for you to leave the


benefits and... We need more confidence back into the economy,


so jobs are being created, and then you can look to give people the


skills and support them into employment. That is the way we


should go forward. We know that that worked until 2008, so we don't


-- so we want the Government to concentrate on getting people into


work. That is the criticism, these are mad schemes, but not a serious


platform policy. We have heard from Danny Alexander, there is little


prospect of this going ahead. But benefits are already partially


regionalised, through housing benefit, but that is a non starter.


Do you think it should have been a non-stop to? Chris Grayling said it


was right to have a debate. It is right to have a debate about all of


the options, but the problems about which you draw the boundaries, how


you identify areas in which the cost of living is higher or lower,


the potential knock-on impact to a regional economy, there are so many


problems and complexities, I would be very surprised if the end result


of any review all debate was an agreement that this was a good way


to go forward. We should look at everything, of course, we should


keep options open. But your advice would be to leave it alone? We have


heard from Danny Alexander, the government is unlikely to go down


this route. There are so many things we need to sort out, changes


to reform the system, but this is not one. The problem is, the Labour


Party are perceived as being on the side of people receiving benefits,


and there is anger that people exploit the system. When we were in


government, we did a lot to get people off benefits and into work.


Made up of people on incapacity benefit. For those who are able, we


want a supportive system that is compassionate. We do not hear about


compassion from the Conservatives. We need a system that encourages


people into work. What about housing benefit for the under 25?


would give an example, if you have got two young people with two


children, are they supposed to be back into the parental home? It is


an in-work benefit as well, it is paid to people on low incomes,


including people who work. It is an unworkable suggestion. You are


attacking benefits for younger people and leaving the benefits for


older people. This is one of the problems, people simplify and


exaggerate. If we are going to the cut housing benefit for people


under 25, there is a reasonable reason for looking at that. It has


not been we would say to every bond, you cannot have housing benefit --


it does not mean. There would have to be a system in place. You are


supposed to be simplified the system. You could not take housing


benefit away from people coming out of care. Should you look at


licences for pensioners, cold weather payments, but go to


millionaires? The issue of the means testing of benefits, the


problem is means testing that would cost nearly as much as it would


save, and the government is committed to retaining those


benefits, because that was a pledge it made.


It was rain that made the headlines this week, but that does not always


the case. The number of wind turbines built recently have lodged


-- changed last parts of the area. But authorities are telling


developers enough is enough. Phil Wilson taking the chance to


get around his bit of County Durham. It is a pleasant environment, I


grew up here. I know the area, I am proud of it. He is worried about


the landscape. What we have got behind us, 17 wind turbines, two


wind farms together. If it was just the 17 turbines in the area, it


would not be a problem, because I am not against them totally, but we


get several applications, and the impact on the landscape is getting


desperate. The some of his constituents feel desperate as well.


The Duke is lovely, and it will be ruined. -- view. An energy company


wants but 24 wind turbines here. -- wants to put 24 wind turbines here.


The decision will be made by the Secretary of State, sitting in


Westminster, with no idea about this area. The people who make the


decision should be elected by the people affected by it. We are


losing our democratic right to control what happens in our county.


But the industry says if local councils have power to decide the


fate of every wind farm, the result will be chaos. Why should they be


treated any differently from any other development? The system that


we have applies across all types of development, energy, roads, housing,


etc. You are looking for a decision based on policy, not on single


issues, 50 vocal opponents campaigning to their local


councillor. That is not democracy, that is too ready. Despite what the


industry says, councils are putting their foot down about these things.


Policies are being drawn up all over the place to try to curtail


them. In Northern Ireland, a wind farm cannot be within 500 metres of


a house. The Scottish Borders Council has introduced bevvies of


constraint, banning them near some historic buildings. Lincolnshire


Council says no wind farm should be within two kilometres of a house.


The council has been busy publicising that policy, including


through this lorry, but the juggernaut is heading this way.


Next week, the leader of Lincolnshire Council this


travelling to Northumberland for a summit with the opposition


Conservative group. Northumberland already has three large wind farms,


another 13 are either at the planning stage or under


construction. Some local politicians say it is time for wind


farms exclusion zones. A national park must be one, and potentially,


a but least parts of green belt land. It is time for us to look out


of the box more and not plonk a wind farm in the middle of a


beautiful piece of countryside, just the same as we would not plonk


a bungalow in the middle of a field over there, we could not do that.


We must have the same John Pollard see that prevents that.


Government says we need a mix of energy to keep an eye lights on.


Take are increasingly part of it. Changing local landscapes, the


council has the final say. The problem is, your government was


a big player about handing power to the local people, but it is a con


job, and that is why people are getting frustrated. It is a very


complex of Gibbard, and it is right to say that you cannot have


complete local control over every type of government, but the big


issue up with wind farms, we should not build them anyway, because they


are inefficient, they drive up the cost of an atrocity, this bold


landscapes, they do not save huge amounts of carbon. -- they spoilt


landscapes. You were one of the MPs that complained it was impossible


to defeat applications to the planning system. That has been the


case for far too long. Your government is overseeing the system.


You have to have a system that can allow developments to go ahead that


the local community do not support, otherwise you would never build a


power station. Should it be changed? It needs to be adapted to


take account of local need and factors, and that is happening,


because communities can put up local plans. But the big issue with


wind farms is that the subsidy that the government is providing is


causing them to happen. Every us have had enough of wind turbines?


Durham county council have said they think there are probably


enough wind farms in County Durham. I agree with them, but I do think


it needs to remain part of our energy mix. People always say, we


can have offshore points. I would include onshore, but local


communities can have -- should have a greater say, and the policy


framework does not make it easier for local communities to have a say.


The threshold for referring it to the national policy decision-making


was set in 1989, and that does need to be reviewed. We did not think of


wind farms in that context, and we need to. Local committees should


have more say, but this is too important, one committee should not


decide. Communities need to consider alternatives. The


government have cut subsidy to solar energy. We should be


investing in this. This region is brilliant for that, but the


government has not invested. We could invest in wave energy. We


need to have a spectrum of renewables. Is this massively over


exaggerated? There are huge spaces of countryside, is it really


overwhelmed with wind turbines? come to my part of Teesside,


travelling into County Durham, you can see them all over the place. It


is the number of applications that is forcing this issue. Is it


because of the spectre of subsidies being cut that might be fighting it


-- forcing them to get in before it happens? These have been going in


for a long time, they have to run tests, go through in a longer


process. A lot of them have been around for a long time. It is


subsidy that we all pay to allow electric bills. The drive towards


subsidising wind power has pushed people into fuel poverty and pushed


our builds up. At this point last week, we made a


joke about how England might miss a penalty in the game last week. It


came true, but it was not my fault! Marker's only just recovered, with


no comments about our prospects at A geologist says this plane could


be amongst the most suitable places for an underground nuclear waste


store. The emirs meet international guidelines. A campaign to allow big


Great North air ambulance to recover the VAT it pays on fuel is


to be taken to the Commons. There will be a debate next week to get


the charity exempted. There have been 65 expressions of interest


from companies bidding to take over the remainder of these factories.


The MP said the Government had handled the consultation badly.


has been a shambles, chaos and confusion from day one. Forget the


woes of the English national team, Tim Farron has his eyes set on the


lovely, he has tabled a motion calling for three teams to be


promoted and three relegated each season between the Football League


and the lower divisions, giving up the non-League teams a greater


chance of breaking into the big- time.


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