19/02/2012 Sunday Politics South West


Similar Content

Browse content similar to 19/02/2012. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



In the South West... The Conservative councillors putting up


council tax. One Tory leader explains why his council has


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1717 seconds


Coming up on the Sunday Politics in the South West. The burger van man


who says he may have to go back on the dole because the government


scheme which helped start his business isn't good enough. And to


discuss that and more, I'm joined by Plymouth Conservative MP Oliver


Colville and Labour Peer Larry Whitty. We have seen Council


deciding whether to put up council tax and the Government offered an


incentive not to do so. Do you think this is a good idea or


potentially stirring up problems? This is the right thing to do


because families at the moment are feeling the pinch in Plymouth and


we need to make sure that they will not be hit particularly badly and


that is why we need to keep all the costs down to the basic minimum.


Nobody wants to see the council tax go up? No, and people in the south-


west pay very high council tax but there seems to be a basic


contradiction in policy and I have said that we need to allow local


government to make up its own mind. Whereas, Eric Pickles, in favour of


localism, his overriding local autonomy and not allowing the local


councillors to set their own budgets and be answerable to their


electorate. A hold that thought. We welcome back to this. Welcome. This


is the news that various local authorities have been deciding


whether to increase council tax. Devon and Somerset Fire Authority


voted to put up their share of the tax, joining a group of rebels in


region defying considerable pressure from the government to


freeze it. Opting for an increase means rejecting the offer from Eric


Pickles of a one-off payment for the next financial year, equivalent


to a 2.5% rise. Our political editor, Martyn Oates, has been to


the South Hams to ask the council leader why he won't be accepting


the government's money. Follaton House, the seat of local government


in Devon and South Hams and in a knot is, Blair and Brown might have


held the country in the group but here, the Tories waited and longed


for a Conservative Prime Minister. It is a bitter irony that after all


the hoping and campaigning to get you a lot on to the government


benches, your own life as a local councillor can suddenly get more


uncomfortable. There is a greatly heightened risk that you will be


kicked out of power altogether over a protest vote nationally. Then,


helpful suggestions from Whitehall as to how you should manage your


financial affairs. Take the pronouncement from on high that all


councils have a moral duty to accept the government's one-off


payment and freeze council tax. Take the money and get costs down


and recognise that a lot of people haven't had a big increase in their


salary so show some respect to the population and stop trying to grab


money from hard-pressed families. Despite receiving that


characteristically forthright advice, this council has decided to


say no to the Government's money and yes to that 2.5% hike in


council tax. I talked to the council leader. The local


government minister has joined his bus in saying that council tax


increases like cures are a cake in the teeth for the taxpayer and they


treat the local electorate with contempt. Do you think so? We don't


believe so. We have taken a lot of consideration over whether to put


up council tax or take the pay freeze and we believe for the South


Hams, it is better in the long term to put council tax up and we


believe this way, we can maintain the services for some time to come.


Is there not a conflict between this year and the Government


because councils saying no to the government body is because it is a


one-off payment and that means you must register council tax in years


to come? Eric Pickles says the point of this is to reduce council


tax? We are the people making decisions, not the Government. The


Government are giving us an opportunity to do this in a


different way but we have this black hole after one year, when the


freeze disappears, how do we felt that? We asked Eric Pickles what he


thought of authorities putting up council tax and he says that this


is about councils lacking leadership and being controlled by


their officers. That his former colleagues to say. Members here in


the council work closely with offices and they give us the


evidence and we make decisions. I would argue with Eric Pickles on


those kind of points. It does look like the Council in Devon, which


will increase council tax, is the council it shares its chief


executive with you? On the face of it, you could say that that officer


has a lot to say about that but in this case, each can some it's a


decision and the officers give us evidence and members have come to


this view. You are a conservative, as is Eric Pickles. Is it helpful


for the Government to say you have complete freedom to do things like


this but then to make it very clear what they think you should do and


be rich in public for doing that? do not think that is right because


if they give us freedom, let's get on and do it and if they wanted to


control us like the previous government, so be it. They cannot


have this both ways. There can be little disagreement that a freeze


at Follaton House this year would tie the hands of councillors and


future. It this council decided to accept the government's 2.5%


payment, and then try to maintain that together with another 2.5%


increase the following year, that would mean a demanding an increase


of around 5% from the South Hams tax payer in one go. Under old


rules, that would run the risk of capping from Whitehall but now the


increase of anything more than 3.5% has to be subject to a local


referendum. Which could well make it politically impossible. Martin


boats reporting. Are you disheartened by this? To Tory


authorities turning down the government offer of the incentive


not to increase council tax and also the Farran authority in the


region, clearly concerned that they cannot do as much unless there is


more money. It is great that local people can make local decisions.


But there has been pressure from the Government. There has been an


incentive given to keep the council tax down and I am disappointed and


I hope that in Plymouth, Plymouth City Council will make sure that


they do not end up increase -- increasing the council tax because


that will impact on hard-working families. The worry is that in the


long term, this will impact anyway and if you make these cuts, in the


long term you will have less services? There is a lot of


evidence to suggest that whether budgets have been kept under


control, what happens is the local authorities make sure that they


took more with less money. That is a difficult argument but there is a


large amount of evidence that it that works, but its work well.


you think these councils can do more with less money? They had a


lot of time under Labour wildly spending money. Now this is coming


down. There must be some room for cuts to be made? There can be


efficiencies achieved in local government and it is obvious that


every council has to assess their own services and what they can --


their income base can take. But there seemed to be contradictions


that if you are really moving towards greater localism, you


cannot have Whitehall saying no further. And then finding other


money to compensate for obeying Whitehall. That seems to be a


contradiction in terms, it isn't localism or is it saving money.


this? It is an incentive, encouraging the authorities to make


sure that they do not go out and spend lots of money and make sure


that the end up keeping their council tax down and that is


actually what people want to see happen. Are you worried about the


fact that the Farrah Prunty rejected this? One so again, this


is a local decision. I am sad at the fact they have made this


decision but the other point is that over the years we have


expected local-authority used to do more and more. What I hope we can


start doing is allowed them to get on with things and not keep telling


them all the time what to do. does appear like that? I don't


think so. We're giving them an incentive to do this, if they want


to go down that route. If not, they have the right to say no. But don't


increase it too much, or they will face a referendum. Stay with us. On


Monday, we were told the banks had failed to meet targets for lending


to small businesses. On Wednesday, unemployment figures went up again


across the South West. Now small business leaders in the region say


the Government should be doing more to help people without a job set up


on their own. There is a scheme designed to encourage the


unemployed to turn themselves into entrepreneurs. It's called the New


Enterprise Allowance. But critics say it's often too little, too late.


Tamsin Melville reports. Business is not exactly sizzling for Stephen


Capewell. After spending eight months unemployed, he had high


hopes for this snack van near Truro. With a �1000 loan under the


Government's New Enterprise Allowance, or NEA, he set up in


November. But the winter months have been tough and he's struggling.


I just do not see how �1,000 today, how you can set up any viable


business on that. It used to be �5,000 and that has been cut. And


it is the main thing that should be helping people get back into work.


At its launch, critics said this scheme wasn't flexible enough.


Stephen's case seems to prove their point. My payments will finish in


10 weeks and if I am then back on benefits, that cost them hundreds


of pounds each week so what does not make sense. I do not understand


why. The DWP says it doesn't currently have any plans to raise


the amount provided by the NEA scheme. But it says it is


monitoring it and welcomes any feedback. So is what's on offer


really enough to keep people out of the job centre for good? As well as


the �1000 loan, the NEA offers a �1,275 allowance over 26 weeks and


mentoring support. But the voice of small businesses in Cornwall


believes it's what happens next that's the key. We are not saying


that this is a bad scheme but it does not go far enough. And that is


the thing. The danger is that that public money could be wasted on a


lot of very good businesses that just need more help and I think it


is looking up at next step which is important. And it's only available


to those claiming Jobseekers Allowance for six months or more,


which some finance experts say is the wrong approach. Let's get this


started sinner, let's catch those people who are prepared to take the


risk. Offer this on day one when somebody has become redundant work


cannot find a job. Say that we have this package of support. The owner


of this new shop in Tavistock says it wouldn't have existed if it


wasn't for the NEA. But crucially, he's also put in his own money and


got a charitable grant. And those administering the scheme in Devon


and Cornwall say they've helped create more than 100 local


businesses over a year. And with dozens more in the pipeline,


there's bound to be mixed results. The �1,000 is a catalyst which has


enabled lots of businesses to start. I am sure that a lot of businesses


would value more money. But �1,000 is enough to enable them to get off


the ground. Inevitably, there will be failures. Because a number of


businesses that start, significantly, a large amount of


them fail. The Government wants to see the creation of up to 40,000


new businesses under the NEA by 2013. Back at the snack van,


there's some doubts. �40,000. That's a big number. But without


the support, I cannot see this happening. Previous governments


have tried similar schemes to turn the unemployed into entrepreneurs.


Whether this one will work for people like Stephen remains a


matter of debate. You had the man, �2,000 isn't enough to get even a


business like a burger van off the ground and he needs more money.


Remember, the country's public finances are in a bad state and we


don't have lots of money to throw around. The fact that the


Government is doing this is a positive sign because what we need


to do is make sure that there is growth in the private sector


because that is where the growth welcome from and we have seen in


Plymouth that the public sector has had to take quite a big cut. We


need to make sure that the private sector has been incentivise. And


anything that can do that is important. Would it be a better


idea to offer less businesses more money? No, you need to spread the


core and all over the place. And let's remember that the budget is


taking place next month and that will have a very real impact


because it will be part of a package of activities that the


Government will be trying to do. Loughry, it is basically a good


idea? The burger van was struggling but the shop was doing well. It is


a good saying, this is needed? principle, yes. So is the loan


indemnity. I support both of these. But this isn't enough, it is part


of a bigger problem that there is no wonder coming forward to new


businesses and small businesses in general from the banks. Your first


point was that the banks have failed to meet their targets,


particularly small businesses. And of the banking system was working


properly, and we then provided the money, and yes, they had indemnity


from the Government but not lot of public money, so I think the real


problem is that banks and their attitude to small businesses.


important to get the bank's lending money and finding ways to make that


happen. But at the end of this, the Government is doing its part by


making sure that there will be this incentive to encourage people to go


out and develop their businesses. wonder if a lot of these businesses


which will be set up under the scheme will be service businesses,


burger vans, shops, and what is actually needed his investment in


education for things like high-end skills which will bring more


economic growth to erase in general? So that people can buy


their Burger? I had an interesting number of days in my constituency


and I first went to see the JobCentre here, and they were very


positive about what it is that we can do to try to turn ourselves


around. I then that a local person who was a local cook and he told me


about taking on an apprentice. Apprenticeships? They are important.


It is part of... Loughry, what do you make of this? Training is


important. Some apprenticeships are not actually sufficient in quality


to give you any way to set up your own business so unit to be


encouraged as an opera -- as an entrepreneur and also go to schools.


Now our regular round-up of the political week in 60 seconds. The


Eden Project's Tim Smit spoke out against the Government's decision


to cut subsidies for geothermal power. It is a total disgrace. It


is a betrayal of British technological power. Anti-nuclear


protestors occupied the site of the proposed Hinkley C reactor in


Somerset. A new anti-wind turbine protest group has been set up in


Cornwall. Is it right to put so much reliance on went when there


are other forms of renewable energy shortly going to be available?


Councillors in Torridge reckon they can manage without a chief


executive and say others should do the same. In some councils there


will be a need for a Chief Executive and in others, there is a


possibility that they could run without one. School leavers in


Cornwall have been told they could get a pioneering council bursary if


they stay in education. And figures from St Petroc's reveal the number


of people sleeping rough in Truro has more than doubled in the last


year. That Was the Week in 60 seconds. Lots of stories on energy.


We had 10 Smith from the Eden Project says the Government isn't


investing enough in geothermal energy. Should more be done? I do.


I am a very big supporter of all forms of green energy and it is the


biggest challenge for this generation of politicians worldwide


and if we get this wrong, the world isn't a pretty bad state. He is


right on geothermal. I do not like blanket opposition to wind farms,


although there will be some sites and support for Mika energy as well.


Anything that isn't fossil fuel, we should encourage. In terms of the


market environment and in government support. Why is the


Government not doing more? They do a significant about. By according


to terms with. We can't do enough for everybody but in the last


couple of weeks, if you remember, the climate change Minister came to


Bristol and announced that we would be the area for a number of marine


science parks as well. I thoroughly agree with Barry. We have got to


find an alternative way. German is investing heavily in its


geothermal? Should we not get in their early? There are a series and


a package of energy issues we need to do and we have to be very


careful because we need to reduce energy... We must stop you. That's


Download Subtitles