03/02/2013 Sunday Politics West


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$:/STARTFEED. In the West - are the poor about to


get poorer still? This April will see sweeping changes to benefits


linked to housing. We are looking at who is going to lose out.


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2431 seconds


Bankia. Welcome to the Sunday Politics in the West. -- thank key.


Coming up: Pay up or get out. What one of grieving widow has been told


as big changes are made to housing and council tax benefits. Alastair


do guests are two politicians who would not give each other house


room. -- our two guests. We are talking about housing in a moment.


First, the Gay Marriage Bill, which will be debated on Tuesday. Why are


so many Conservatives Against It? All sorts of reasons. It is a very


complicated and difficult issue. I was moving towards being in favour


of it when add that it was going to be registry offices. I have


received 2000 representations in Yorkshire of people opposed to it.


Not one single recommendation in favour of it. I will vote against


it because I think it is wrong and I do not want it to happen.


Churches should not be required... Of if it were simply a question of


changing the words to registry offices, that would be fine. It is


only a matter of time before the European Court of Human Rights and


others say, actually, you are now required to do this event if you do


not want to. There is a good triple-lock on this. It is absolute


leader. It enables churches that wish to undertake equal marriages


to do so. It should be a celebration of two people who love


each other. There is no discrimination whatsoever. People


in the same sex who want to get married in the church and if the


Church once and to get married, they are unable to do so. You are


admitting it is about churches! If it is the case, I say leave it to


them. They cannot do it at the moment. If you are a Quaker, you


cannot do that. My friend had a registry office civil partnership


and that was fine. Have you got a similar post bag to him? Are people


opposing it? I know of people who said that because of religious


reasons... Probably 90% wet if not more, are in favour of it. They


understand that churches are not being forced to do it. They can


marry people if they wish to. I think it is terrific. If people


oppose it and wished to vote against it, that is their


prerogative. I am glad there is a free vote in the House of Commons


and the House of Lords. So am I. Why is the Archbishop of Canterbury


and all the bishops, with the exception of the Quakers, they are


totally opposed to it? Other churches want to do it. More of


that in the week ahead. Some of the poorest people in society will soon


get a bit poorer. The Government is making changes on housing benefit.


They're changing council tax relief. If you live in a council house or a


property owned by a housing association, you can also get


clobbered. If you have the spare room, you can lose some housing


benefit. Julie is still grieving. This is the bedroom she shared with


her husband before his death from cancer. That is the artwork that he


did before he died. Her children are grown up, so there is a spare


bedroom at her council house. This July, a year since being widowed,


she will be ordered to pay an extra �500 a year or moved. This is where


I had been for 30 years. I have brought up of family. I have


grandchildren to come. My husband lived and died here. It is not just


a case of downsizing. Cases like hers have caused alarm. What has


been dubbed the bedroom tax was raised at Prime Minister's


Questions. There are many people in private rented accommodation


without housing benefit he cannot afford extra bedrooms. We need to


get control of this. They are spending as a country �23 billion


on housing benefit and we have to get that budget under control.


April could tenants with one extra bedroom will lose 14% of housing


benefit. Those with two or more spare rooms face a cut of 25%.


Pensioners are protected, as they are from the other big change.


Working-age people who currently get their council tax paid by


benefit may have to start paying hundreds of pounds, as the


Government hands over administering the system. It is a tough call for


councils will stock-take over the running of council tax benefits, so


the Government. -- running of councils. At the specially convened


full meeting, the Conservative run council debated on whether to cut


spending elsewhere. Impossible, both parties agreed. People on


benefit will have to pay. We do not have a lot of fat. I would like to


think we are a very efficient council. It does not leave a lot of


wiggle room when you get these Exocet it's locked in by government.


They're just imposing a tax on people on very low incomes. They're


trying to dodge the real impact of their decision-making at Parliament.


For those on benefits, attending Bridgewater JobCentre, it is a


worry. That is absolutely going to scupper Ming. I can hardly look, as


it is. -- scupper any. It would be very difficult. A lot of families


would be in more trouble than they are in now. It is hard for us to


provide an live properly. They are basically rising and increasing the


council tax and taking away money that you need. I would have to move


back in with my mum. Back in Kingswood, Julie feels it is unfair


that those with the least of being hit. Finding the money would be


difficult. Doing anything else would be worse. The thought of


packing up, closing my front door, handing the keys in and not living


here any more is unthinkable. It is just unbearable. My political


guests are still with me to discuss all of theirs. Under Labour,


housing benefit has doubled. Now the chickens have come home to


roost and they have got to make cuts. We all agree that there has


to be some cuts. I think that the welfare cuts that are taking place


at the moment are absolutely wrong. They are hitting people at the very


time when rich people are actually having tax rebates. Enormous tax


rebates. That is wrong. The bedroom tax will hit people who should not


be hit. Why shouldn't that Lady hang on to her bedroom, just in


case her grandchildren want to stay? What about the problems that


are being caused poor housing associations? My own housing


association understands the need for people to downsize but they do


not have any smaller properties for these people to live in. This is


affecting some of the poorest people in society. What have they


done to deserve that? 250,000 people today are on homeless


waiting lists. They want a house but they cannot get one. 1 million


people in England today have too small a house. They need that extra


room. There are lots of other people who the state is subsidising


in the fact they have a bigger house than they need. Housing


benefits are out of control. The state is subsidising people living


in a bigger house than a need for other people have no has to living


at will. We're trying to find a way to rebalance that. -- no house.


brother and sister living together. One of them dies. The survivor has


to pay, lose benefit or move out. There will be a 12 month waiting


period. If a single person is living in a two-bedroom of three-


bedroom house, they have to pay more through benefit all they have


to move out. Next door, a five- person family is living in a one-


bedroom house. It is their home! Where are these people going to


move? Where will they move? matter how many spare bedrooms you


have got, if you are on housing benefit, you must be allowed to


stay in that house. If not, you are supporting what we are actually


doing. Many people would wish to move to smaller accommodation.


Where someone dies, and the lady he was interviewed in the piece just


now, I think it is wrong for that woman to have to move out of her


home. We should not use these emotional cases. We're talking


about the generality of people, where a very large number of people


are living in houses that are too big for them. The state is paying


for it. The money is not going to these people themselves. The money


is going to go to private landlords. I am a great believer in


redistribution of wealth. Let's find another family that needs that


house and is living on the street or in inadequate accommodation.


Under Labour, there would be no housing benefit cuts. Is that


right? There would be some cuts. We have to look at the way in which it


is implemented. What we would not want is the bedroom tax. That is


unfair and unjust for poorer people. It is also a pejorative term. All


we're doing is equalising the use of scarce resources in housing.


are taxing people four bedrooms. That is why it is called the


bedroom tax. We will come back to party politics in just a minute.


Before that, some independent thinking. We have an independent


mayor in Bristol. A new group wants to field a handful of independent


candidates at the local elections in May. The have been here before


with the likes of Martin Bell, the former BBC correspondent.


Independents are running things in Somerset. Is this the start of a


new movement in local politics? Independents are in vogue. Bristol


has an independent men and three of our police forces have independent


commissioners. Is there more to come up? What we are not is a


political party. But they are a new group. Independents for Bristol


canvassed for candidates for the May elections. Bristol is very


unusual. It is a minority of towns and cities where there are no


independent candidates what so ever. -- it is in a minority. In north


Somerset, seven and West Somerset, seven. They hope to contest a


handful of the seats up for grabs. How did they attract any attention?


How will anyone know they are standing? What we can do is provide


the central focus for our activities - some training. Help


them with leaflets and give them a common independence for Bristol


look. They were inspired by what happened here in Froome.


Independents took control of the town council two years ago. What


was most ignorant for us was there was a 75% increase in turn out. --


significant. The former council chief executive says independently


Ore bring fresh thinking and their time has come. -- independents.


Political parties cannot draw in a number of people. Here, most of


them could not put up a candidate in most wards. People are beginning


to think the old Star politics is over. If we are not careful, will


be left with analogue politics in a digital age. -- we will be laughed.


We have been here before at the start of the digital age when


Bristol did have an independent councillor and a new independent


group had its first meeting. I am the only independent councillor in


Bristol and others like to have more with me. I would like to feel


that people are talking about the needs of the ward and not the party.


The party system in Bristol has had a pernicious effect on the


efficiency of local government. It has been banned by parties was that


they can only think of parties. Party's first, voter's second.


is those voters who will ultimately decide. Seasoned politicians are


not convinced they will be won over. As a voter, you like to know what


you are voting for. With independents it does not tell you


what is inside. With a party, at least you know their background,


where they're coming from. Beano the record and here you are voting


for. You do not know that with independents. The mayor and the


police commissioner has managed it was tapas and they change the face


of local politics here so good? -- managed it. Can a change? Chris is


an independent blogger and consultant. You ran the campaign


for the Bristol man. Thank you for coming in. What is so special about


independent? I think, in terms of local politics, and particularly in


terms of Bristol, there is a general consensus and perception


that local party politics has failed. Bristol has not punched its


rate for a long time. Part of that problem is the party political


strictures that are put on members. You only have to look at the fall-


out from the election. The Labour Party was going to join the Cabinet,


then they were not. Then they were and the local council has decided


that would be in the best interests of Bristol before the national


executive committee said you cannot. They put the kibosh on it. I do not


think anyone with the best interests of Bristol at heart


things that is a good idea. thinks. They spring up another.


There was mention. From the point of view of a voter, it you vote for


a political party, you know what you're getting. If you vote for an


independent, they might have a range of issues that are not


consistent. That is a bit of a silly view. Really? I also think it


is part of the problem. With party politicians at local level, you do


know what you are getting. You getting a party doctrine. You are


not getting a councillor who can vote for the best interests of a


ward. If you go before a selection process for a party, chair we say


that deluded and the eccentrics are weeded out in advance? -- shall we


say? That is not necessarily true. All the parties are struggling with


candidate selection and supply. I do not know how independents at


Bristol will set themselves up but, from what I understand, they will


have some selection process. So that they can Bill to the


candidates that will subscribe. Then they become a party. Let's


bring in some other guests. Do you accept your parties and others have


ruined local government? I do not think they have ruined local


government at all. There are some fantastic Labour councils up and


down the country, doing a splendid job - tried to mitigate the effects


of cuts. I'm not in need to be political. It is a very difficult


atmosphere. -- I'm not meaning to be political. Why I went -- why it


will Labour do not work with the independent Met in Bristol?


imagine that you would be that, come next May, we would be fighting


against some independent councillors, and it could have been


quite a difficult situation to have members in the Cabinet of the mayor


who were fighting other people within the Cabinet? If local


government is about making sure the pavements are even and the roads


are swept, why do we need a politician to do that? Why not be


good and upstanding person? believe. -- I believe in that. Good


men and women who have the local area at the forefront of their


minds, particularly at town and parish level, it is great. The


gentleman in the piece was correct in a way. Where there is a party


system at all, you have to know what it stands to. Conservatives


stand for lower council tax. Are we on the verge of a new independent


revolution in local government? That remains to be seen. The


situation in Bristol means that is very possible. The environment is


right for a group of independents. It has been talked about for a long


time. It is a very realistic possibility. We will have to leave


it there. Thank you for coming in. Time to take a look at the


political stories of the week in our 62nd round-up. -- 60 second


round-up. Airbus is taking on some engineers with the help of


government investment. The Government is hugely profitable so


the grant raised a question with the minister. The us Airbus really


need 1.5 million from the tax payers? -- does Airbus? You would


not expect us to put money into losers. A war of words involving


Eric Pickles. He accused people -- the Government of treating


residents with contempt. We all get tarred with the same brush was that


it is not very helpful. region's biggest bus firm agreed to


review offence. Publicly owned forests, including the Forest of


Dean, will not be sold off. It has reversed its plans after a public


outcry. That Was the Week in just one minute. How time flies! Let's


pick up on a couple of those stories. The minister's visit to


Airbus and the Government giving money for a successful company like


Airbus to recruit. Why's that? Why did they deserve the money?


would not want to give money to a failing company. In giving money to


a good company - half-French - it is very important that we should


keep them in Bristol. It is important we should employ these


100 people. A bit of money, 1.5 million, it does precisely that. I


welcome government investment in this area. I do agree but I would


be very interested to know their view on the European Union as well.


Whether or not we should be in the European Union. Airbus will be here,


in or not. The good news is that this week, David Cameron will be


having an in/out referendum. Would you have an in/out referendum?


We're not in government at the moment. You are. It is wrong to


have a referendum at the moment. What about in the next parliament?


We have to see what happens. will you vote? You would vote for


no? I want David Cameron to campaign very hard the terms


changed. I want the reformed European Union as well. You also


campaigned for the FA is not to be sold off. The Government has said


it does less than. They have listened to not just to people like


me but for a fantastic campaigners. Save our forests campaign. Real


People Power. I have not read all the small print. I am delighted the


Government has said it was some of the Forest was that that is good


and I welcome it was was that a mistake? -- the forest. 95% of


forests belong to private landowners. They belong to the


people. We agree with that. That is it from the West this week. The


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