09/03/2014 Sunday Politics North East and Cumbria


09/03/2014

Andrew Neil and Richard Moss with political news, interviews and debate. With work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith and chief secretary to the treasury Danny Alexander.


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Transcript


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Morning, folks. Welcome to the Sunday Politics.

:00:36.:00:43.

He's a man on a mission. But is it mission impossible? Iain Duncan

:00:44.:00:46.

Smith has started the radical reform of our welfare state. No tall order.

:00:47.:00:50.

And not everything's going to plan. We'll be talking to the man himself.

:00:51.:00:54.

Nick Clegg's hosting his party's spring conference in York. He's

:00:55.:00:58.

getting pretty cosy with the party faithful. Not so cosy, though, with

:00:59.:01:02.

his Coalition partners. In fact things are getting a wee bit nasty.

:01:03.:01:06.

We'll be talking to his right-hand man, Danny Alexander.

:01:07.:01:09.

And are all politicians self-obsessed? Don't all shout at

:01:10.:01:12.

In the north`east and once. We'll be

:01:13.:01:26.

biggest social housing landlords. Can Southwark Council really build

:01:27.:01:30.

11,000 new homes in the next three decades?

:01:31.:01:35.

And with me, as always, three of the best and the brightest political

:01:36.:01:40.

panel in the business. At least that's what it says in the Sunday

:01:41.:01:44.

Politics template. Back from the Oscars empty handed, Helen Lewis,

:01:45.:01:49.

Janan Ganesh and Iain Martin. Yes, three camera-shy hacks, who've never

:01:50.:01:52.

taken a selfie in their life. We'll be coming to that later. They just

:01:53.:01:55.

like to tweet. And they'll be doing so throughout the programme.

:01:56.:01:57.

Welcome. Now, first this morning, the Liberal

:01:58.:02:03.

Democrat Spring Conference in York. I know you speak of nothing else!

:02:04.:02:06.

The Yorkshire spring sunshine hasn't made the Lib Dems think any more

:02:07.:02:10.

kindly of their Coalition partners. Indeed, Tory bashing is now the Lib

:02:11.:02:14.

Dem default position. Here's Danny Alexander speaking yesterday.

:02:15.:02:20.

Repairing the economy on its own isn't enough. We have to do it

:02:21.:02:21.

fairly. isn't enough. We have to do it

:02:22.:02:30.

the agenda a decision to cut taxes, income taxes, for working people.

:02:31.:02:35.

Now, conference, note that word - forced. We have had to fight for

:02:36.:02:41.

this at the last election and at every budget and at every Autumn

:02:42.:02:45.

Statement since 2010 and what a fight it has been.

:02:46.:02:53.

Danny Alexander joins us now. Are we going to have to suffer 14 months of

:02:54.:02:59.

you and your colleagues desperately trying to distance yourself from the

:03:00.:03:03.

Tories? It's not about distancing ourselves. It's about saying, " this

:03:04.:03:08.

is what we as a party have achieved in government together with the

:03:09.:03:14.

Conservatives". And saying, " this is what our agenda is for the

:03:15.:03:18.

future" . It's not just about the fact that this April we reach that

:03:19.:03:24.

?10,000 income tax allowance that we promised in our manifesto in 20 0

:03:25.:03:29.

but also that we want to go further in the next parliament and live that

:03:30.:03:36.

to ?12,500, getting that over a 2-term Liberal Democrat government.

:03:37.:03:39.

It's very important for all parties to set out their own agenda, ideas

:03:40.:03:44.

and vision for the future, whilst also celebrating what we're

:03:45.:03:47.

achieving jointly in this Coalition, particularly around the fact that we

:03:48.:03:51.

are, having taken very difficult decisions, seeing the economy

:03:52.:03:56.

improving and seeing jobs creation in this country, which is something

:03:57.:04:00.

I'm personally very proud and, as the Coalition, we have achieved and

:04:01.:04:04.

wouldn't have if it hadn't been for the decisions of the Liberal

:04:05.:04:08.

Democrats. Lets try and move on You've made that point about 50

:04:09.:04:13.

times on this show alone. You now seem more interested in Rowling with

:04:14.:04:15.

each other than running the country, don't you? -- rowing with each

:04:16.:04:23.

other. I think we are making sure we take the decisions, particularly

:04:24.:04:29.

about getting our economy on the right track. Of course, there are

:04:30.:04:33.

lots of things where the Conservatives have one view of the

:04:34.:04:37.

future and we have a different view and it's quite proper that we should

:04:38.:04:41.

set those things out. There are big differences between the Liberal

:04:42.:04:43.

Democrats and the Conservatives just as there were big differences

:04:44.:04:46.

between the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party. I believe we're

:04:47.:04:51.

the only party that can marry that commitment delivering a strong

:04:52.:04:55.

economy, which Labour can't do, and that commitment to delivering a

:04:56.:04:58.

fairer society, which the Tories can't be trusted to do by

:04:59.:05:01.

themselves. You are going out of your way to pick fights with the

:05:02.:05:05.

Tories at the moment. It's a bit like American wrestling. It is all

:05:06.:05:09.

show. Nobody is really getting hurt. I've been compared to many things

:05:10.:05:13.

but an American wrestler is a first! I don't see it like that It

:05:14.:05:20.

is right for us as a party to set out what we've achieved and show

:05:21.:05:24.

people that what we promised on 2010 on income tax cuts is what this

:05:25.:05:30.

government is delivering. But nobody seems convinced by these

:05:31.:05:33.

manufactured rows with the Tories. You've just come last in a council

:05:34.:05:38.

by-election with 56 votes. You were even bitten by an Elvis

:05:39.:05:44.

impersonator! Yes, that is true -- beaten. I could equally well quote

:05:45.:05:54.

council by-elections that we've won recently, beating Conservatives the

:05:55.:05:59.

Labour Party and UKIP. Our record on that is pretty good. You can always

:06:00.:06:03.

pick one that shows one or other party in a poor light. Our party is

:06:04.:06:07.

having real traction with the electric and the places where we

:06:08.:06:11.

have a real chance of winning. If you're not an American wrestler

:06:12.:06:14.

maybe you should be an Elvis impersonator! You told your spring

:06:15.:06:19.

forum... You don't want to hear me sing! You want to raise the personal

:06:20.:06:25.

allowance to ?12,500 in the next Parliament. Will you refuse to enter

:06:26.:06:29.

into Coalition with any party that won't agree to that? What I said

:06:30.:06:34.

yesterday is that this will be something which is a very high

:06:35.:06:39.

priority for the Liberal Democrats. It's something that we will very

:06:40.:06:43.

much seek to achieve if we are involved... We know that - will it

:06:44.:06:50.

be a red line? If you are a number in 2010, on the front page of our

:06:51.:06:54.

manifesto, we highlighted four policies... I know all that. Will it

:06:55.:07:00.

be a red line? It will be something that is a very high priority for the

:07:01.:07:05.

Liberal Democrats to deliver. For the fifth time, will it be a red

:07:06.:07:11.

line? It will be, as I said, a very high priority for the Liberal

:07:12.:07:13.

Democrats in the next Parliament. That's my language. We did that in

:07:14.:07:18.

the next election. The number-1 promise on our manifesto with a

:07:19.:07:22.

?10,000 threshold and we've delivered that in this Parliament.

:07:23.:07:25.

People can see that when we say something is a top priority, we

:07:26.:07:32.

deliver it. Is it your claim... Are you claiming that the Tories would

:07:33.:07:35.

not have raised the starting point of income tax if it hadn't been for

:07:36.:07:40.

the Liberal Democrats? If you remember back in the leaders'

:07:41.:07:43.

debates in the 2010 election campaign, Nick Clegg was rightly

:07:44.:07:48.

championing this idea and David Cameron said it couldn't be

:07:49.:07:54.

afforded. Each step of the way in the Coalition negotiations within

:07:55.:07:59.

government, we've had to fight for that. The covert overtures have

:08:00.:08:03.

other priorities. -- the Conservatives. I don't want to go

:08:04.:08:08.

back into history. I'd like to get to the present. Have the

:08:09.:08:12.

Conservatives resisted every effort to raise the starting point of

:08:13.:08:17.

income tax? As I said, we promised this in 2010, they said it couldn't

:08:18.:08:22.

be done. We've made sure it was delivered in the Coalition. Have

:08:23.:08:27.

they resisted it? We've argued for big steps along the way and forced

:08:28.:08:31.

it on to the agenda. They've wanted to deliver other things are so we've

:08:32.:08:39.

had to fight for our priority.. Did the Conservatives resist every

:08:40.:08:45.

attempt? It has been resisted, overall the things I'm talking

:08:46.:08:48.

about, by Conservatives, because they have wanted to deliver other

:08:49.:08:52.

things and, of course, in a Coalition you negotiate. Both

:08:53.:08:57.

parties have their priorities. Our priority has been a very consistent

:08:58.:09:01.

one. Last year, they were arguing about tax breaks for married

:09:02.:09:05.

couples. They were arguing in 2 10 for tax cuts for millionaires. Our

:09:06.:09:11.

priority in all these discussions has been a consistent one, which is

:09:12.:09:15.

to say we want cutbacks for working people. -- we want to cut tax for

:09:16.:09:23.

working people. That has been delivered by both parties in the

:09:24.:09:27.

Coalition government full top So what do you think when the Tories

:09:28.:09:31.

take credit for it? I understand why they want to try to do that. Most

:09:32.:09:35.

people understand what we have just said. Not if the polls are to be

:09:36.:09:43.

believed... You're under 10%. This is one of the things, when I talk to

:09:44.:09:50.

people, but I find they know that the Lib Dems have delivered in

:09:51.:09:54.

government. People know we promised it in 2010 and we're the ones who

:09:55.:09:58.

forced this idea onto the agenda in our election manifesto. You've said

:09:59.:10:02.

that five times in this interview alone. The reality is, this is now a

:10:03.:10:10.

squabbling, loveless marriage. We're getting bored with all your tests,

:10:11.:10:14.

the voters. Why don't you just divorced? -- all your arguments I

:10:15.:10:21.

don't accept that. On a lot of policy areas, the Coalition

:10:22.:10:24.

government has worked very well together. We're delivering an awful

:10:25.:10:28.

lot of things that matter to this country. Most importantly, the mess

:10:29.:10:32.

that Labour made of the economy we are sorting out. We are getting our

:10:33.:10:36.

finances on the right track, making our economy more competitive,

:10:37.:10:40.

creating jobs up and down this country, supporting businesses to

:10:41.:10:43.

invest in growth. That is what this Coalition was set up to do, what it

:10:44.:10:47.

is delivering, and both myself and George Osborne are proud to have

:10:48.:10:50.

worked together to deliver that record. Danny Alexander, thanks for

:10:51.:10:55.

that. Enjoyed York. Helen, is anybody listening? I do worry that

:10:56.:11:01.

another 40 months of this might drive voter apathy up to record

:11:02.:11:05.

levels. There is a simple answer to why they don't divorced - it's the

:11:06.:11:11.

agreement that Parliament will last until 2015. MPs are bouncing around

:11:12.:11:15.

Westminster with very little to do. They are looking for things to put

:11:16.:11:20.

in the Queen's Speech and we are going to have rocks basically the 40

:11:21.:11:23.

months and very little substantial difference in policies. Do you

:11:24.:11:28.

believe Danny Alexander when he says there would have been no rise in the

:11:29.:11:32.

starting rate of income tax if not for the Lib Dems? He's gilding the

:11:33.:11:36.

lily. If you look back at papers are written in 2001 suggesting precisely

:11:37.:11:45.

this policy, written by a Tory peer, you see there are plenty of Tories

:11:46.:11:50.

which suggest there would have been this kind of move. I can see why

:11:51.:11:55.

Danny Alexander needs to do this and they need to show they've achieved

:11:56.:11:59.

something in government because they are below 10% in the polls and

:12:00.:12:03.

finding it incredibly difficult to get any traction at all. The other

:12:04.:12:09.

leg of this Lib Dem repositioning is now to be explicitly the party of

:12:10.:12:14.

Europe and to be the vanguard of the fight to be all things pro-Europe.

:12:15.:12:20.

Mr Clegg is going to debate Nigel Farage in the run-up to the European

:12:21.:12:24.

elections. If, despite that, the Lib Dems come last of the major parties,

:12:25.:12:50.

doesn't it show how out of touch different. They are targeting a

:12:51.:12:55.

section of the electorate who are a bit more amenable to their views

:12:56.:12:59.

than the rest. They wouldn't get 20% of the vote. They are targeting that

:13:00.:13:04.

one section. They have to do disproportionately well amongst

:13:05.:13:06.

those and it will payoff and they will end up with something like 15%.

:13:07.:13:11.

How many seats will the Lib Dems losing the next election? Ten. 0.

:13:12.:13:22.

15. Triangulation! We'll keep that on tape and see what actually

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happens! The Work and Pensions Secretary Iain

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Duncan Smith is a man on a mission. He's undertaken the biggest overhaul

:13:31.:13:34.

in our welfare state since it was invented way back in the

:13:35.:13:36.

black-and-white days of the late 1940s. A committed Roman Catholic,

:13:37.:13:41.

he's said he has a moral vision to reverse the previous welfare system,

:13:42.:13:45.

which he believes didn't create enough incentive for people to work.

:13:46.:13:50.

But are his reforms working? Are they fair? As he bitten off more

:13:51.:13:54.

than he can chew? In a moment, we'll speak to the man himself but first,

:13:55.:13:58.

here's Adam. Hackney in north London and we're on

:13:59.:14:02.

the road with the man who might just be the most ambitious welfare

:14:03.:14:06.

secretary there's ever been. It s a journey that started in the wind and

:14:07.:14:10.

rain on a Glasgow council estate 12 years ago when he was Tory leader.

:14:11.:14:14.

He came face-to-face with what it meant to be poor. A selection of

:14:15.:14:19.

teddy bears. It's where he discovered his recipe for reform,

:14:20.:14:23.

according to one of the advisers who was with him. There are things that

:14:24.:14:28.

if you do get a job, keep your family together, stay off drugs and

:14:29.:14:35.

alcohol, make sure you have a proper skill - that's what keeps you of

:14:36.:14:40.

poverty. He, very ambitiously, wants to redefine the nature of what it

:14:41.:14:43.

means to be poor and how you get away from poverty. Back in north

:14:44.:14:48.

London, he's come to congratulate the troops on some good news. In

:14:49.:14:53.

this borough, the number of people on job-seeker's allowance has gone

:14:54.:14:56.

down by 29% in the last year, up from around 1700 to around 1200 But

:14:57.:15:04.

the picture in his wider changes to the welfare state is a bit more

:15:05.:15:09.

mixed. A cap on the total amount of benefits a family can get, of

:15:10.:15:14.

?26,000 a year, is hugely popular but there have been howls of protest

:15:15.:15:17.

over cuts to housing benefit, labelled the bedroom tax by some.

:15:18.:15:23.

Protests, too, about assessments for people on disability benefits,

:15:24.:15:25.

inherited from the previous government. Iain Duncan Smith has

:15:26.:15:29.

been accused of being heartless and the company doing them, Atos, has

:15:30.:15:35.

pulled out. And then the big one - and universal credit, a plan to roll

:15:36.:15:39.

six benefits into one monthly payment, in a way designed to ensure

:15:40.:15:44.

that work always pays. Some of the IT has been written off and the

:15:45.:15:48.

timetable seems to be slipping. Outside the bubble of the

:15:49.:15:52.

stage-managed ministerial trip, a local Labour MP reckons he's bitten

:15:53.:15:56.

off more than he can chew. The great desire is to say, " let's have one

:15:57.:16:02.

simple one size fits all approach" . And there isn't one size of person

:16:03.:16:06.

or family out there. People need to change and they can challenge on the

:16:07.:16:10.

turn of a penny almost. One minute they are doing the right thing,

:16:11.:16:13.

working hard. Next minute, they need a level of support and if this

:16:14.:16:17.

simple system doesn't deliver that for them, they're in a difficult

:16:18.:16:21.

position. And that's the flying visit to the front line finished. He

:16:22.:16:28.

does not like to hang about and just as well do - his overhaul of the

:16:29.:16:32.

entire benefits system still has quite a long way to go. And Iain

:16:33.:16:40.

Duncan Smith joins me now. Before I come onto the interview on welfare

:16:41.:16:44.

reform, is Danny Alexander right when he claims the Lib Dems had to

:16:45.:16:52.

fight to get the Tories to raise the income tax threshold? That is not my

:16:53.:16:57.

recollection of what happened. These debates took place in the

:16:58.:17:02.

Coalition. The Conservatives are in favour of reducing the overall

:17:03.:17:06.

burden of taxation, so the question was how best do we do it? The

:17:07.:17:12.

conversation took place, they were keen on raising the threshold, there

:17:13.:17:17.

were also other ways of doing it but it is clear from the Conservatives

:17:18.:17:21.

that we always wanted to improve the quality of life of those at the

:17:22.:17:26.

bottom so raising the threshold fit within the overall plan. If it was a

:17:27.:17:31.

row, it was the kind of row you have over a cup of tea round the

:17:32.:17:41.

breakfast table. We have got a lot to cover. There are two criticisms

:17:42.:17:47.

mainly of what you are doing - will they work, and will they be fair?

:17:48.:17:54.

Leslie Roberts, one of our viewers, wants to know why so much has

:17:55.:17:58.

already been written off due to failures of the universal credit

:17:59.:18:01.

system even though it has been barely introduced. Relatively it has

:18:02.:18:10.

been a ?2 billion investment project, in the private sector

:18:11.:18:17.

programmes are written off regularly at 30, 40%. The IT is working, we

:18:18.:18:23.

are improving as we go along, the key thing is to keep your eye on the

:18:24.:18:28.

parts that don't work and make sure they don't create a problem for the

:18:29.:18:38.

programme. 140 million has been wasted! The 40 million that was

:18:39.:18:42.

written off was just do with security IT, and I took that

:18:43.:18:47.

decision over a year and a half ago so the programme continued to roll

:18:48.:18:51.

out. Those figures include the standard right down, the aggregation

:18:52.:19:03.

of cost over a period of time. The computers were written down years

:19:04.:19:07.

ago but they continue to work now. Universal credit is rolling out we

:19:08.:19:12.

are doing the Pathfinders and learning a lot but I will not ever

:19:13.:19:16.

do this again like the last government, big band launches, you

:19:17.:19:27.

should do it phrase by phrase. Even your colleague Francis Maude says

:19:28.:19:29.

the implementation of universal credit has been pretty lamentable.

:19:30.:19:36.

He was referring back to the time when I stopped that element of the

:19:37.:19:43.

process and I agreed with that. I intervened to make the changes. The

:19:44.:19:47.

key point is that it is rolling out and I invite anyone to look at where

:19:48.:19:54.

it is being rolled out to. You were predicting that a million people

:19:55.:19:57.

would be an universal credit, this is the new welfare credit which

:19:58.:20:02.

rolls up six existing welfare benefits and you were predicting a

:20:03.:20:08.

million people would be on it by April, well it is March and only

:20:09.:20:19.

3200 are on it. I changed the way we rolled it out and there was a reason

:20:20.:20:23.

for that. Under the advice of someone we brought from outside he

:20:24.:20:29.

said that you are better rolling it out slower and gaining momentum

:20:30.:20:33.

later on. On the timetables for rolling out we are pretty clear that

:20:34.:20:37.

it will roll out within the timescale is originally set. We will

:20:38.:20:41.

roll it out into the Northwest so that we replicate the north and the

:20:42.:20:47.

Northwest, recognise how it works properly. You will not hit 1 million

:20:48.:20:54.

by April. I have no intention of claiming that, and it is quite

:20:55.:20:58.

deliberate because that is the wrong thing to do. We want to roll it out

:20:59.:21:04.

carefully so we make sure everything about it works. There are lots of

:21:05.:21:08.

variables in this process but if you do it that way, you will not end up

:21:09.:21:13.

with the kind of debacle where in the past something like ?28 billion

:21:14.:21:18.

worth of IT programmes were written off. ?38 billion of net benefits,

:21:19.:21:26.

which is exactly what the N a O Z, so it is worth getting it right

:21:27.:21:33.

William Grant wants to know, when will the universal credit cover the

:21:34.:21:39.

whole country? By 2016, everybody who is claiming one of those six

:21:40.:21:42.

benefits will be claiming universal credit. Some and sickness benefits

:21:43.:21:52.

will take longer to come on because it is more difficult. Many of them

:21:53.:21:57.

have no work expectations on them, but for those on working tax

:21:58.:22:01.

credits, on things like job-seeker's allowance, they will be making

:22:02.:22:06.

claims on universal credit. Many of them are already doing that now

:22:07.:22:12.

there are 200,000 people around the country already on universal credit.

:22:13.:22:18.

You cannot give me a date as to when everybody will be on it? 2016 is

:22:19.:22:28.

when everybody claiming this benefit will be on, then you have to bring

:22:29.:22:33.

others and take them slower. Universal credit is a big and

:22:34.:22:39.

important reform, not an IT reform. The important point is that it will

:22:40.:22:44.

be a massive cultural reform. Right now somebody has to go to work and

:22:45.:22:49.

there is a small job out there. They won't take that because the way

:22:50.:22:52.

their benefits are withdrawn, it will mean it is not worth doing it.

:22:53.:22:58.

Under the way we have got it in the Pathfinders, the change is

:22:59.:23:02.

dramatic. A job-seeker can take a small part time job while they are

:23:03.:23:06.

looking for work and it means flexibility for business so it is a

:23:07.:23:12.

big change. Lets see if that is true because universal credit is meant to

:23:13.:23:16.

make work pay, that is your mantra. Let me show you a quote Minister in

:23:17.:23:24.

the last -- in the last Tory conference. It

:23:25.:23:47.

has only come down to 76%. Actually form own parents, before they get to

:23:48.:23:53.

the tax bracket it is well below that. That is a decision the

:23:54.:23:58.

Government takes about the withdrawal rate so you can lower

:23:59.:24:04.

that rate or raise it. And do your reforms, some of the poorest

:24:05.:24:08.

people, if they burn an extra pound, will pay a marginal rate of

:24:09.:24:20.

76%. -- if they earn an extra pound. The 98% he is talking about is a

:24:21.:24:25.

specific area to do with lone parents but there are specific

:24:26.:24:31.

compound areas in the process that mean people are better off staying

:24:32.:24:37.

at home then going to work. They will be able to identify how much

:24:38.:24:41.

they are better off without needing to have a maths degree to figure it

:24:42.:24:46.

out. They are all taken away at different rates at the moment, it is

:24:47.:24:52.

complex and chaotic. Under universal credit that won't happen, and they

:24:53.:24:57.

will always be better off than they are now. Would you work that bit

:24:58.:25:03.

harder if the Government was going to take away that portion of what

:25:04.:25:12.

you learned? At the moment you are going to tax poor people at the same

:25:13.:25:18.

rate the French government taxes billionaires. Millions will be

:25:19.:25:22.

better off under this system of universal credit, I promise you and

:25:23.:25:27.

that level of withdrawal then becomes something governments have

:25:28.:25:33.

to publicly discussed as to whether they lower or raise it. But George

:25:34.:25:38.

Osborne wouldn't give you the extra money to allow for the taper, is

:25:39.:25:45.

that right? The moment somebody crosses into work under the present

:25:46.:25:50.

system, there are huge cliff edges, in other words the immediate

:25:51.:25:53.

withdrawal makes it worse for them to go into work than otherwise. If

:25:54.:25:59.

he had given you more money, you could have tapered it more gently?

:26:00.:26:09.

Of course, but the Chancellor can always ultimately make that

:26:10.:26:12.

decision. These decisions are made by chancellors like tax rates, but

:26:13.:26:19.

it would be much easier under this system for the public to see what

:26:20.:26:23.

the Government chooses as its priorities. At the moment nobody has

:26:24.:26:29.

any idea but in the future it will be. Under the Pathfinders, we are

:26:30.:26:34.

finding people are going to work faster, doing more job searches and

:26:35.:26:40.

more likely to take work under universal credit. Public Accounts

:26:41.:26:47.

Committee said this programme has been worse than doing nothing, for

:26:48.:26:55.

the long-term credit. It has not been a glorious success, has it

:26:56.:27:03.

That is wrong. Right now the work programme is succeeding, more people

:27:04.:27:08.

are going to work, somewhere in the order of 500,000 people have gone

:27:09.:27:12.

back into work as a result of the programme. Around 280,000 people are

:27:13.:27:18.

in a sustained work over six months. Many companies are well

:27:19.:27:22.

above it, and the whole point about the work programme is that it is

:27:23.:27:27.

setup so that we make the private sector, two things that are

:27:28.:27:30.

important, there is competition in every area so that people can be

:27:31.:27:36.

sucked out of the programme and others can move in. The important

:27:37.:27:42.

point here as well is this, that actually they don't get paid unless

:27:43.:27:46.

they sustain somebody for six months of employment. Under previous

:27:47.:27:51.

programmes under the last government, they wasted millions

:27:52.:27:54.

paying companies who took the money and didn't do enough to get people

:27:55.:27:59.

into work. The best performing provider only moved 5% of people off

:28:00.:28:06.

benefit into work, the worst managed only 2%. It is young people. That

:28:07.:28:15.

report was on the early first months of the work programme, it is a

:28:16.:28:20.

two-year point we are now and I can give you the figures for this. They

:28:21.:28:25.

are above the line, the improvement has been dramatic and the work

:28:26.:28:29.

programme is better than any other back to work programme under the

:28:30.:28:37.

last government. So why is long term unemployment rising? It is falling.

:28:38.:28:43.

We have the largest number of people back in work, there is more women in

:28:44.:28:49.

work than ever before, more jobs being created, 1.6 million new jobs

:28:50.:28:54.

being created. The work programme is working, our back to work programmes

:28:55.:29:01.

are incredibly successful at below cost so we are doing better than the

:29:02.:29:05.

last government ever did, and it will continue to improve because

:29:06.:29:10.

this process is very important. The competition is what drives up

:29:11.:29:15.

performance. We want the best performers to take the biggest

:29:16.:29:19.

numbers of people. You are practising Catholic, Archbishop

:29:20.:29:26.

Vincent Nichols has attached your reforms -- attack to your reforms,

:29:27.:29:30.

saying they are becoming more punitive to the most vulnerable in

:29:31.:29:35.

the land. What do you say? I don't agree. It would have been good if

:29:36.:29:40.

you called me before making these attacks because most are not

:29:41.:29:50.

correct. For the poorest temper sent in their

:29:51.:29:54.

society, they are now spending, as a percentage of their income, less

:29:55.:29:59.

than they did before. I'm not quite sure what he thinks welfare is

:30:00.:30:04.

about. Welfare is about stabilising people but most of all making sure

:30:05.:30:07.

that households can achieve what they need through work. The number

:30:08.:30:13.

of workless households under previous governments arose

:30:14.:30:17.

consistently. It has fallen for the first time in 30 years by nearly

:30:18.:30:22.

18%. Something like a quarter of a million children were growing up in

:30:23.:30:26.

workless households and are now in households with work and they are

:30:27.:30:30.

three times more likely to grow up with work than they would have been

:30:31.:30:34.

in workless households. Let me come into something that he may have had

:30:35.:30:38.

in mind as being punitive - some other housing benefit changes. A

:30:39.:30:42.

year ago, the Prime Minister announced that people with severely

:30:43.:30:46.

disabled children would be exempt from the changes but that was only

:30:47.:30:47.

after your department fought a High from the changes but that was only

:30:48.:30:54.

Court battle over children who couldn't share a bedroom because of

:30:55.:30:56.

severe disabilities. Isn't that what couldn't share a bedroom because of

:30:57.:31:01.

the Archbishop means by punitive or, some may describe it, heartless We

:31:02.:31:04.

the Archbishop means by punitive or, were originally going to appeal that

:31:05.:31:09.

and I said no. You put it up for an appeal and I said no. We're talking

:31:10.:31:12.

about families with disabled children. There are good reasons for

:31:13.:31:16.

about families with disabled this. Children with conditions like

:31:17.:31:20.

that don't make decisions about their household - their parents do -

:31:21.:31:25.

so I said we would exempt them. But for adults with disabilities the

:31:26.:31:28.

courts have upheld all of our decisions against complaints. But

:31:29.:31:30.

courts have upheld all of our you did appeal it. It's just that,

:31:31.:31:35.

having lost in the appeal court you didn't then go to the Supreme Court.

:31:36.:31:39.

You make decisions about this. My view was that it was right to exempt

:31:40.:31:44.

them at that time. I made that decision, not the Prime Minister.

:31:45.:31:49.

Let's get this right - the context of this is quite important. Housing

:31:50.:31:52.

benefit under the last government doubled under the last ten years to

:31:53.:31:59.

?20 billion. It was set to rise to another 25 billion, the fastest

:32:00.:32:03.

rising of the benefits, it was out of control. We had to get it into

:32:04.:32:07.

control. It wasn't easy but we haven't cut the overall rise in

:32:08.:32:11.

housing. We've lowered it but we haven't cut housing benefit and

:32:12.:32:14.

we've tried to do it carefully so that people get a fair crack. On the

:32:15.:32:18.

spare room subsidy, which is what this complaint was about, the

:32:19.:32:23.

reality is that there are a quarter of a million people living in

:32:24.:32:25.

overcrowded accommodation. The last government left us with 1 million

:32:26.:32:28.

people on a waiting list for housing and there were half a million people

:32:29.:32:30.

sitting in houses with spare and there were half a million people

:32:31.:32:34.

bedrooms they weren't using. As we build more houses, yes we need more,

:32:35.:32:37.

others have to use their others have to use their

:32:38.:32:41.

accommodation carefully so that they actually improve the lot of those

:32:42.:32:43.

accommodation carefully so that they living in desperate situations in

:32:44.:32:46.

overcrowded accommodation, and taxpayers are paying a lot of

:32:47.:32:49.

money. This will help people get back to work. They're more likely to

:32:50.:32:54.

go to work and more likely, therefore, to end up in the right

:32:55.:32:55.

go to work and more likely, sort of housing. We've not got much

:32:56.:33:02.

time left. A centre-right think tank that you've been associated with, on

:33:03.:33:07.

job-seeker's allowance, says 70 000 job-seekers' benefits were withdrawn

:33:08.:33:14.

unfairly. A viewer wants to know, are these reforms too harsh and

:33:15.:33:19.

punitive? Those figures are not correct. The Policy Exchange is

:33:20.:33:23.

wrong? Those figures are not correct and we will be publishing corrected

:33:24.:33:30.

figures. The reality is... Some people have lost their job-seeker

:33:31.:33:33.

benefits and been forced to go to food backs and they shouldn't have.

:33:34.:33:38.

No, they're not. What he is referring to is that we allowed an

:33:39.:33:43.

adviser to make a decision if some but it is not cooperating. We now

:33:44.:33:47.

make people sign a contract, where they agree these things. These are

:33:48.:33:51.

things we do for you and if you don't do these things, you are

:33:52.:33:55.

likely to have your benefit withdrawn on job-seeker's allowance.

:33:56.:33:57.

Some of this was an fairly withdrawn. There are millions of

:33:58.:34:02.

these things that go through. This is a very small subset. But if you

:34:03.:34:07.

lose your job-seeker benefit unfairly, you have no cash flow

:34:08.:34:09.

lose your job-seeker benefit There is an immediate review within

:34:10.:34:16.

seven days of that decision. Within seven days, that decision is

:34:17.:34:17.

reviewed. They are able to get a seven days, that decision is

:34:18.:34:20.

hardship fund straightaway if there is a problem. We have nearly ?1

:34:21.:34:25.

billion setup to help people, through crisis, hardship funds and

:34:26.:34:33.

in many other ways. We've given more than ?200 million to authorities to

:34:34.:34:37.

do face-to-face checks. This is not a nasty, vicious system but a system

:34:38.:34:39.

that says, "look, we ask you to do that says, "look, we ask you to do

:34:40.:34:44.

certain things. Taxpayers pay this money. You are out of work but you

:34:45.:34:48.

have obligations to seek work. We simply ask that you stick to doing

:34:49.:34:51.

those. Those sanctions are therefore be but he will not cooperate" . I

:34:52.:34:56.

think it is only fair to say to those people that they make choices

:34:57.:34:59.

throughout their life and if they choose not to cooperate, this is

:35:00.:35:04.

what happens. Is child poverty rising? No, it is actually falling

:35:05.:35:11.

in the last figures. 300,000 it fell in the last... Let me show you these

:35:12.:35:18.

figures. That is a projection by the Institute of fiscal studies. It also

:35:19.:35:21.

shows that it has gone up every year and will rise by 400,000 in this

:35:22.:35:26.

Parliament, and your government and will continue to rise. But never

:35:27.:35:30.

mind the projection. It may be right, may be wrong. It would be

:35:31.:35:37.

400,000 up compared to when -- what you inherited when this Parliament

:35:38.:35:39.

ends. That isn't a projection but you inherited when this Parliament

:35:40.:35:44.

the actual figures. But the last figures show that child poverty has

:35:45.:35:49.

fallen by some 300,000. The important point is... Can I just

:35:50.:35:53.

finished this point of? Child poverty is measured against 60% of

:35:54.:35:57.

median income so this is an issue about how we measure child poverty.

:35:58.:36:03.

You want to change the measure. I made the decision not to publish our

:36:04.:36:07.

change figures at this point because we've still got a bit more work to

:36:08.:36:10.

do on them but there is a big consensus that the way we measure

:36:11.:36:14.

child poverty right now does not measure exactly what requires to be

:36:15.:36:18.

done. For example, a family with an individual parent who may be drug

:36:19.:36:22.

addicted and gets what we think is enough money to be just over the

:36:23.:36:25.

line, their children may be living in poverty but they won't be

:36:26.:36:28.

measured so we need to get a measurement that looks at poverty in

:36:29.:36:31.

measured so we need to get a terms of how people live, not just

:36:32.:36:34.

in terms of the income levels they have. You can see on that chart -

:36:35.:36:41.

400,000 rising by the end of this Parliament - you are deciding over

:36:42.:36:43.

an increase. Speedier I want to change it because under the last

:36:44.:36:47.

government child poverty rose consistently from 2004 and they

:36:48.:36:51.

ended up chucking huge sums of money into things like tax credits. In tax

:36:52.:36:55.

credits, in six years before the credits, in six years before the

:36:56.:37:03.

last election, the last government spent ?175 billion chasing a poverty

:37:04.:37:05.

target and they didn't achieve what they set out to achieve. We don t

:37:06.:37:10.

want to continue down that line where you simply put money into a

:37:11.:37:14.

welfare system to alter a marginal income line. It doesn't make any

:37:15.:37:16.

welfare system to alter a marginal sense. That's why we want to change

:37:17.:37:20.

it, not because some projection says it might be going up. I will point

:37:21.:37:31.

out again it isn't a projection up to 2013-14. You want it to make work

:37:32.:37:38.

pay but more people in poverty are now in working families than in

:37:39.:37:41.

workless families. For them, workers not paying. Those figures referred

:37:42.:37:47.

to the last government's time in government. What is interesting

:37:48.:37:51.

to the last government's time in about it is that until 2010, under

:37:52.:37:57.

the last government, those in working families - poverty in

:37:58.:37:58.

working families rose by half a working families rose by half a

:37:59.:38:02.

million. For the two years up to the end of those figures, it has been

:38:03.:38:07.

flat, under this government. These are figures at the last

:38:08.:38:10.

government... You inherited and it hasn't changed. The truth is, even

:38:11.:38:16.

if you are in poverty in a working family, your children, if they are

:38:17.:38:20.

in workless families, are three times more likely to be out of work

:38:21.:38:26.

and to suffer real hardship. So in other words, moving people up the

:38:27.:38:29.

scale, into work and then on is important. The problem with the last

:38:30.:38:35.

government system with working tax credit is it locks them into certain

:38:36.:38:39.

hours and they didn't progress. We're changing that so that you

:38:40.:38:42.

progress on up and go out of poverty through work and beyond it. But

:38:43.:38:46.

those figures you're referring to refer to the last government's

:38:47.:38:52.

tenure and they spent ?175 billion on a tax credit which still left

:38:53.:38:57.

people in work in poverty. Even 20 minutes isn't enough to go through

:38:58.:38:59.

people in work in poverty. Even 20 all this. A lot more I'd like to

:39:00.:39:03.

talk about. I hope you will come back. I will definitely come back.

:39:04.:39:08.

Thank you for joining us. You're watching the Sunday

:39:09.:39:11.

Politics. We say goodbye to viewers in Scotland, who leave us now for

:39:12.:39:13.

Sunday Politics Scotland. Gove is right to focus. We've run

:39:14.:02:19.

out of time. Thanks for being here. Andrew, back to you.

:02:20.:02:29.

Now, without further ado, more from our political panel. Iain Martin,

:02:30.:02:38.

what did you make of Iain Duncan Smith's response to the Danny

:02:39.:02:43.

Alexander point I'd put to him? I thought it was a cheekily put

:02:44.:02:47.

response but actually, on Twitter, people have been tweeting while on

:02:48.:02:51.

air that there are lots of examples where the Tories have demanded the

:02:52.:02:57.

raising of the threshold. The 2 06 Forsyth tax omission is another

:02:58.:03:01.

example. Helen, on the bigger issue of welfare reforms, is welfare

:03:02.:03:08.

reform, as we head into the election, despite all the

:03:09.:03:12.

criticisms, still a plus for the government? I don't think so.

:03:13.:03:17.

Whatever the opposite of a Midas touch is, Iain Duncan Smith has got

:03:18.:03:21.

it. David Cameron never talks about universal credit any more. The

:03:22.:03:25.

record on personal independence payment, for example... We didn t

:03:26.:03:30.

get onto that. Only one in six of those notes have been paid. A toss

:03:31.:03:35.

pulling out of their condiment has been a nightmare. It's a very big

:03:36.:03:42.

minus point for the Secretary of State. -- Atos pulling out of bed

:03:43.:03:53.

contract. Welfare cuts are an unambiguous point for the government

:03:54.:04:00.

but other points more ambiguous I don't think it's technical

:04:01.:04:05.

complexity that makes IDS's reform a problem. The IT gets moved out with

:04:06.:04:10.

time. But even if it's in fermented perfectly, what it will achieve has

:04:11.:04:13.

been slightly oversold, I think and simplified incredibly. All it does

:04:14.:04:19.

is improve incentives to work for one section of the income scale and

:04:20.:04:23.

diminishes it at another. Basically, you are encouraged to go from

:04:24.:04:28.

working zero hours to 16 hours but your incentive to work beyond 1

:04:29.:04:32.

goes down. That's not because it's a horrendous policy but because in

:04:33.:04:35.

work benefits systems are imperceptible. Most countries do

:04:36.:04:43.

worse than we do. -- benefits systems cannot be perfected. They

:04:44.:04:49.

need to tone down how much this can achieve even if it all goes

:04:50.:04:52.

flawlessly. There are clearly problems, particularly within

:04:53.:04:58.

limitation, but Labour is still wary of welfare reform. -- with

:04:59.:05:02.

implementation. Polls suggest it is rather popular. People may not know

:05:03.:05:06.

what's involved were like the sound of it. I think Janan is right to

:05:07.:05:13.

mark out the differences between welfare cuts and welfare reforms.

:05:14.:05:20.

They are related but distinct. Are we saying cuts are more popular than

:05:21.:05:27.

reform? They clearly are. The numbers, when you present people

:05:28.:05:33.

numbers on benefit reductions, are off the scale. Reform, for the

:05:34.:05:38.

reasons you explored in your interview, is incredibly

:05:39.:05:44.

compensated. What's interesting is that Labour haven't really

:05:45.:05:46.

definitively said what their position is on this. I think they

:05:47.:05:53.

like - despite what they may see in public occasionally - some of what

:05:54.:05:57.

universal credit might produce but they don't want to be associated

:05:58.:06:05.

with it. We probably won't know until if Ed Miliband is Prime

:06:06.:06:08.

Minister precisely what direction Labour will go. Immigration is still

:06:09.:06:13.

a hot topic in Westminster and throughout the country. This new

:06:14.:06:17.

Home Office minister, James Brokenshire, made an intervention.

:06:18.:06:22.

Let's see what he had to say. For too long, the benefits of

:06:23.:06:27.

immigration went to employers who wanted an easy supply of cheap

:06:28.:06:30.

labour or to the wealthy metropolitan elite who wanted cheap

:06:31.:06:34.

tradesmen and services, but not to the ordinary hard-working people of

:06:35.:06:39.

this country. With the result that the Prime Minister and everyone else

:06:40.:06:41.

has to tell us all whether they ve now got Portuguese or whatever it is

:06:42.:06:47.

Nanny is. Is this the most cack-handed intervention on an

:06:48.:06:52.

immigration issue in a long list? I think it is and when I saw this

:06:53.:06:55.

being trailed the night before, I worried for him. As soon as a

:06:56.:07:02.

minister of the Crown uses the phrase "wealthy metropolitan elite"

:07:03.:07:37.

more likely we see it in recession. We've just had the worst recession

:07:38.:07:43.

in several decades. It's no small problem but compared to what

:07:44.:07:46.

ministers like James Brokenshire has been saying for the past few years

:07:47.:07:51.

and also the reluctance to issue the report earlier, I thought that,

:07:52.:07:54.

combined with the speech, made it quite a bad week for the department.

:07:55.:07:59.

Was this a cack-handed attempt to appeal to the UKIP voters? I think

:08:00.:08:05.

so and he's predecessor had to leave the job because of having a foreign

:08:06.:08:09.

cleaner. It drew attention to the Tories' biggest problem, the out of

:08:10.:08:13.

touch problem. Most people around the country probably don't have a

:08:14.:08:17.

Portuguese nanny and you've just put a big sign over David Cameron

:08:18.:08:24.

saying, this man can afford a Portuguese Nanny. It is not the

:08:25.:08:27.

finest political operation ever conducted and the speech was

:08:28.:08:30.

definitely given by the Home Office to Number Ten but did Number Ten

:08:31.:08:34.

bother to read it? It was a complete shambles. The basic argument that

:08:35.:08:40.

there is a divide between a wealthy metropolitan elite and large parts

:08:41.:08:45.

of Middle Britain or the rest of the country I think is basically sound.

:08:46.:08:49.

It is but they are on the wrong side of it. What do you mean by that The

:08:50.:08:54.

Tory government is on the wrong side. This is appealing to UKIP

:08:55.:09:00.

voters and we know that UKIP is appealing to working-class voters

:09:01.:09:04.

who have previously voted Labour and Tory. If you set up that divide

:09:05.:09:07.

make sure you are on the right side stop When you talk about

:09:08.:09:12.

metropolitan members of the media class, they say that it is rubbish

:09:13.:09:15.

and everyone has a Polish cleaner. No, they don't. I do not have a

:09:16.:09:22.

clean! I don't clean behind the fridge, either! Most people in the

:09:23.:09:28.

country don't have a cleaner. The problem for the Tories on this is,

:09:29.:09:38.

why play that game? You can't out-UKIP UKIP. After two or three

:09:39.:09:43.

years of sustained Tory effort to do that, they will probably finish

:09:44.:09:50.

behind UKIP. Do we really want a political system where it becomes an

:09:51.:09:54.

issue of where your nanny or your cleaner is from, if you've got one?

:09:55.:10:00.

Unless, of course, they're illegal. But Portuguese or Italian or

:10:01.:10:05.

Scottish... And intervention was from Nick Clegg who said his wife

:10:06.:10:10.

was Dutch -- his mum was Dutch and his wife was Spanish. Not communism

:10:11.:10:19.

but who your cleaner is! It's the McCarthy question! Where does your

:10:20.:10:24.

cleaner come from. A lot of people will say are lucky to have a

:10:25.:10:28.

cleaner. I want to move onto selfies but first, on the Nigel Farage

:10:29.:10:33.

Nick Clegg debate, let's stick with the TV one. Who do you think will

:10:34.:10:41.

win? Nigel Farage. Clegg. He is a surprisingly good in debates and

:10:42.:10:45.

people have forgotten. I think Clegg is going to win. I think Farage has

:10:46.:10:51.

peaked. We're going to keep that on tape as well! Two 214 Clegg there.

:10:52.:11:00.

Selfies. Politicians are attempting to show they're down with the kids.

:11:01.:11:04.

Let's look at some that we've seen in recent days.

:11:05.:11:14.

Why are they doing this, Helen? I'm so embarrassed you call me reading

:11:15.:11:52.

the SNP manifesto, as I do every Saturday! They do it because it

:11:53.:11:57.

makes them seem authentic and that's the big Lie that social media tells

:11:58.:12:01.

you - that you're seeing the real person. You're not, you're seeing a

:12:02.:12:06.

very carefully manicured, more witty person. That doesn't work for

:12:07.:12:12.

politicians. It looks so fake and I'm still suffering the cringe I see

:12:13.:12:16.

every time I see Cameronserious phone face. Does Mr Cameron really

:12:17.:12:22.

think it big Sim up because he's on the phone to President Obama? Obama

:12:23.:12:31.

is not the personality he once was. There is an international crisis in

:12:32.:12:35.

Ukraine - of course we are expecting to be speaking to Obama! And if you

:12:36.:12:39.

were in any doubt about what a man talking on the telephone looks like,

:12:40.:12:44.

here's a photo. I must confess, I didn't take my own selfie. Did your

:12:45.:12:51.

nanny? My father-in-law took it Where is your father-in-law from?

:12:52.:12:57.

Scotland. Just checking. Janan, I think we've got one of you. The 1%!

:12:58.:13:12.

What a great telephone! Where did you get that telephone? It looks

:13:13.:13:16.

like Wolf Of Wall Street! That's what I go to bed in. It showed how

:13:17.:13:22.

excited Cameron was to be on the phone to Obama. All our politicians

:13:23.:13:27.

think they are living a mini version of US politics. President Obama goes

:13:28.:13:32.

on a big plane and we complain when George Osborne goes first class on

:13:33.:13:36.

first Great Western. They want to be big and important like American

:13:37.:13:39.

politics but it doesn't work. We'll see your top at next week!

:13:40.:13:44.

That's it for this week. Faxed all our guests. The Daily Politics is on

:13:45.:13:48.

all this week at lunchtime on BBC Two. We'll be back here same time,

:13:49.:13:53.

same place next week. Remember, if it's Sunday, it is the Sunday

:13:54.:13:56.

Politics.

:13:57.:14:01.

Andrew Neil and Richard Moss with the latest political news, interviews and debate. With work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith and chief secretary to the treasury Danny Alexander.


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