09/03/2014 Sunday Politics West


Andrew Neil and David Garmston 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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Morning, folks. Welcome to the Sunday Politics.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


The fields that are being ttrned once. We'll be


The fields that are being ttrned into power stations. Huge solar


farms are springing up. Thex are biggest social housing landlords.


Can Southwark Council really build 11,000 new homes in the next three


decades? And with me, as always, three of the


best and the brightest political panel in the business. At least


that's what it says in the Sunday Politics template. Back from the


Oscars empty handed, Helen Lewis, Janan Ganesh and Iain Martin. Yes,


three camera-shy hacks, who've never taken a selfie in their life. We'll


be coming to that later. They just like to tweet. And they'll be doing


so throughout the programme. Welcome.


Now, first this morning, the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference in York.


I know you speak of nothing else! The Yorkshire spring sunshine hasn't


made the Lib Dems think any more kindly of their Coalition partners.


Indeed, Tory bashing is now the Lib Dem default position. Here's Danny


Alexander speaking yesterday. Repairing the economy on its own


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


isn't enough. We have to do it the agenda a decision to cut taxes,


income taxes, for working people. Now, conference, note that word -


forced. We have had to fight for this at the last election and at


every budget and at every Autumn Statement since 2010 and what a


fight it has been. Danny Alexander joins us now. Are we


going to have to suffer 14 months of you and your colleagues desperately


trying to distance yourself from the Tories? It's not about distancing


ourselves. It's about saying, " this is what we as a party have achieved


in government together with the Conservatives". And saying, " this


is what our agenda is for the future" . It's not just about the


fact that this April we reach that ?10,000 income tax allowance that we


promised in our manifesto in 20 0 but also that we want to go further


in the next parliament and live that to ?12,500, getting that over a


2-term Liberal Democrat government. It's very important for all parties


to set out their own agenda, ideas and vision for the future, whilst


also celebrating what we're achieving jointly in this Coalition,


particularly around the fact that we are, having taken very difficult


decisions, seeing the economy improving and seeing jobs creation


in this country, which is something I'm personally very proud and, as


the Coalition, we have achieved and wouldn't have if it hadn't been for


the decisions of the Liberal Democrats. Lets try and move on


You've made that point about 50 times on this show alone. You now


seem more interested in Rowling with each other than running the country,


don't you? -- rowing with each other. I think we are making sure we


take the decisions, particularly about getting our economy on the


right track. Of course, there are lots of things where the


Conservatives have one view of the future and we have a different view


and it's quite proper that we should set those things out. There are big


differences between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives


just as there were big differences between the Liberal Democrats and


the Labour Party. I believe we're the only party that can marry that


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


that commitment to delivering a fairer society, which the Tories


can't be trusted to do by themselves. You are going out of


your way to pick fights with the Tories at the moment. It's a bit


like American wrestling. It is all show. Nobody is really getting hurt.


I've been compared to many things but an American wrestler is a


first! I don't see it like that It is right for us as a party to set


out what we've achieved and show people that what we promised on 2010


on income tax cuts is what this government is delivering. But nobody


seems convinced by these manufactured rows with the Tories.


You've just come last in a council by-election with 56 votes. You were


even bitten by an Elvis impersonator! Yes, that is true --


beaten. I could equally well quote council by-elections that we've won


recently, beating Conservatives the Labour Party and UKIP. Our record on


that is pretty good. You can always pick one that shows one or other


party in a poor light. Our party is having real traction with the


electric and the places where we have a real chance of winning. If


you're not an American wrestler maybe you should be an Elvis


impersonator! You told your spring forum... You don't want to hear me


sing! You want to raise the personal allowance to ?12,500 in the next


Parliament. Will you refuse to enter into Coalition with any party that


won't agree to that? What I said yesterday is that this will be


something which is a very high priority for the Liberal Democrats.


It's something that we will very much seek to achieve if we are


involved... We know that - will it be a red line? If you are a number


in 2010, on the front page of our manifesto, we highlighted four


policies... I know all that. Will it be a red line? It will be something


that is a very high priority for the Liberal Democrats to deliver. For


the fifth time, will it be a red line? It will be, as I said, a very


high priority for the Liberal Democrats in the next Parliament.


That's my language. We did that in the next election. The number-1


promise on our manifesto with a ?10,000 threshold and we've


delivered that in this Parliament. People can see that when we say


something is a top priority, we deliver it. Is it your claim... Are


you claiming that the Tories would not have raised the starting point


of income tax if it hadn't been for the Liberal Democrats? If you


remember back in the leaders' debates in the 2010 election


campaign, Nick Clegg was rightly championing this idea and David


Cameron said it couldn't be afforded. Each step of the way in


the Coalition negotiations within government, we've had to fight for


that. The covert overtures have other priorities. -- the


Conservatives. I don't want to go back into history. I'd like to get


to the present. Have the Conservatives resisted every effort


to raise the starting point of income tax? As I said, we promised


this in 2010, they said it couldn't be done. We've made sure it was


delivered in the Coalition. Have they resisted it? We've argued for


big steps along the way and forced it on to the agenda. They've wanted


to deliver other things are so we've had to fight for our priority.. Did


the Conservatives resist every attempt? It has been resisted,


overall the things I'm talking about, by Conservatives, because


they have wanted to deliver other things and, of course, in a


Coalition you negotiate. Both parties have their priorities. Our


priority has been a very consistent one. Last year, they were arguing


about tax breaks for married couples. They were arguing in 2 10


for tax cuts for millionaires. Our priority in all these discussions


has been a consistent one, which is to say we want cutbacks for working


people. -- we want to cut tax for working people. That has been


delivered by both parties in the Coalition government full top So


what do you think when the Tories take credit for it? I understand why


they want to try to do that. Most people understand what we have just


said. Not if the polls are to be believed... You're under 10%. This


is one of the things, when I talk to people, but I find they know that


the Lib Dems have delivered in government. People know we promised


it in 2010 and we're the ones who forced this idea onto the agenda in


our election manifesto. You've said that five times in this interview


alone. The reality is, this is now a squabbling, loveless marriage. We're


getting bored with all your tests, the voters. Why don't you just


divorced? -- all your arguments I don't accept that. On a lot of


policy areas, the Coalition government has worked very well


together. We're delivering an awful lot of things that matter to this


country. Most importantly, the mess that Labour made of the economy we


are sorting out. We are getting our finances on the right track, making


our economy more competitive, creating jobs up and down this


country, supporting businesses to invest in growth. That is what this


Coalition was set up to do, what it is delivering, and both myself and


George Osborne are proud to have worked together to deliver that


record. Danny Alexander, thanks for that. Enjoyed York. Helen, is


anybody listening? I do worry that another 40 months of this might


drive voter apathy up to record levels. There is a simple answer to


why they don't divorced - it's the agreement that Parliament will last


until 2015. MPs are bouncing around Westminster with very little to do.


They are looking for things to put in the Queen's Speech and we are


going to have rocks basically the 40 months and very little substantial


difference in policies. Do you believe Danny Alexander when he says


there would have been no rise in the starting rate of income tax if not


for the Lib Dems? He's gilding the lily. If you look back at papers are


written in 2001 suggesting precisely this policy, written by a Tory peer,


you see there are plenty of Tories which suggest there would have been


this kind of move. I can see why Danny Alexander needs to do this and


they need to show they've achieved something in government because they


are below 10% in the polls and finding it incredibly difficult to


get any traction at all. The other leg of this Lib Dem repositioning is


now to be explicitly the party of Europe and to be the vanguard of the


fight to be all things pro-Europe. Mr Clegg is going to debate Nigel


Farage in the run-up to the European elections. If, despite that, the Lib


Dems come last of the major parties, doesn't it show how out of touch


different. They are targeting a section of the electorate who are a


bit more amenable to their views than the rest. They wouldn't get 20%


of the vote. They are targeting that one section. They have to do


disproportionately well amongst those and it will payoff and they


will end up with something like 15%. How many seats will the Lib Dems


losing the next election? Ten. 0. 15. Triangulation! We'll keep that


on tape and see what actually happens!


The Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith is a man on a mission.


He's undertaken the biggest overhaul in our welfare state since it was


invented way back in the black-and-white days of the late


1940s. A committed Roman Catholic, he's said he has a moral vision to


reverse the previous welfare system, which he believes didn't create


enough incentive for people to work. But are his reforms working? Are


they fair? As he bitten off more than he can chew? In a moment, we'll


speak to the man himself but first, here's Adam.


Hackney in north London and we're on the road with the man who might just


be the most ambitious welfare secretary there's ever been. It s a


journey that started in the wind and rain on a Glasgow council estate 12


years ago when he was Tory leader. He came face-to-face with what it


meant to be poor. A selection of teddy bears. It's where he


discovered his recipe for reform, according to one of the advisers who


was with him. There are things that if you do get a job, keep your


family together, stay off drugs and alcohol, make sure you have a proper


skill - that's what keeps you of poverty. He, very ambitiously, wants


to redefine the nature of what it means to be poor and how you get


away from poverty. Back in north London, he's come to congratulate


the troops on some good news. In this borough, the number of people


on job-seeker's allowance has gone down by 29% in the last year, up


from around 1700 to around 1200 But the picture in his wider changes to


the welfare state is a bit more mixed. A cap on the total amount of


benefits a family can get, of ?26,000 a year, is hugely popular


but there have been howls of protest over cuts to housing benefit,


labelled the bedroom tax by some. Protests, too, about assessments for


people on disability benefits, inherited from the previous


government. Iain Duncan Smith has been accused of being heartless and


the company doing them, Atos, has pulled out. And then the big one -


and universal credit, a plan to roll six benefits into one monthly


payment, in a way designed to ensure that work always pays. Some of the


IT has been written off and the timetable seems to be slipping.


Outside the bubble of the stage-managed ministerial trip, a


local Labour MP reckons he's bitten off more than he can chew. The great


desire is to say, " let's have one simple one size fits all approach" .


And there isn't one size of person or family out there. People need to


change and they can challenge on the turn of a penny almost. One minute


they are doing the right thing, working hard. Next minute, they need


a level of support and if this simple system doesn't deliver that


for them, they're in a difficult position. And that's the flying


visit to the front line finished. He does not like to hang about and just


as well do - his overhaul of the entire benefits system still has


quite a long way to go. And Iain Duncan Smith joins me now. Before I


come onto the interview on welfare reform, is Danny Alexander right


when he claims the Lib Dems had to fight to get the Tories to raise the


income tax threshold? That is not my recollection of what happened. These


debates took place in the Coalition. The Conservatives are in


favour of reducing the overall burden of taxation, so the question


was how best do we do it? The conversation took place, they were


keen on raising the threshold, there were also other ways of doing it but


it is clear from the Conservatives that we always wanted to improve the


quality of life of those at the bottom so raising the threshold fit


within the overall plan. If it was a row, it was the kind of row you have


over a cup of tea round the breakfast table. We have got a lot


to cover. There are two criticisms mainly of what you are doing - will


they work, and will they be fair? Leslie Roberts, one of our viewers,


wants to know why so much has already been written off due to


failures of the universal credit system even though it has been


barely introduced. Relatively it has been a ?2 billion investment


project, in the private sector programmes are written off regularly


at 30, 40%. The IT is working, we are improving as we go along, the


key thing is to keep your eye on the parts that don't work and make sure


they don't create a problem for the programme. 140 million has been


wasted! The 40 million that was written off was just do with


security IT, and I took that decision over a year and a half ago


so the programme continued to roll out. Those figures include the


standard right down, the aggregation of cost over a period of time. The


computers were written down years ago but they continue to work now.


Universal credit is rolling out we are doing the Pathfinders and


learning a lot but I will not ever do this again like the last


government, big band launches, you should do it phrase by phrase. Even


your colleague Francis Maude says the implementation of universal


credit has been pretty lamentable. He was referring back to the time


when I stopped that element of the process and I agreed with that. I


intervened to make the changes. The key point is that it is rolling out


and I invite anyone to look at where it is being rolled out to. You were


predicting that a million people would be an universal credit, this


is the new welfare credit which rolls up six existing welfare


benefits and you were predicting a million people would be on it by


April, well it is March and only 3200 are on it. I changed the way we


rolled it out and there was a reason for that. Under the advice of


someone we brought from outside he said that you are better rolling it


out slower and gaining momentum later on. On the timetables for


rolling out we are pretty clear that it will roll out within the


timescale is originally set. We will roll it out into the Northwest so


that we replicate the north and the Northwest, recognise how it works


properly. You will not hit 1 million by April. I have no intention of


claiming that, and it is quite deliberate because that is the wrong


thing to do. We want to roll it out carefully so we make sure everything


about it works. There are lots of variables in this process but if you


do it that way, you will not end up with the kind of debacle where in


the past something like ?28 billion worth of IT programmes were written


off. ?38 billion of net benefits, which is exactly what the N a O Z,


so it is worth getting it right William Grant wants to know, when


will the universal credit cover the whole country? By 2016, everybody


who is claiming one of those six benefits will be claiming universal


credit. Some and sickness benefits will take longer to come on because


it is more difficult. Many of them have no work expectations on them,


but for those on working tax credits, on things like job-seeker's


allowance, they will be making claims on universal credit. Many of


them are already doing that now there are 200,000 people around the


country already on universal credit. You cannot give me a date as to when


everybody will be on it? 2016 is when everybody claiming this benefit


will be on, then you have to bring others and take them slower.


Universal credit is a big and important reform, not an IT reform.


The important point is that it will be a massive cultural reform. Right


now somebody has to go to work and there is a small job out there. They


won't take that because the way their benefits are withdrawn, it


will mean it is not worth doing it. Under the way we have got it in the


Pathfinders, the change is dramatic. A job-seeker can take a


small part time job while they are looking for work and it means


flexibility for business so it is a big change. Lets see if that is true


because universal credit is meant to make work pay, that is your mantra.


Let me show you a quote Minister in the last


-- in the last Tory conference. It has only come down to 76%. Actually


form own parents, before they get to the tax bracket it is well below


that. That is a decision the Government takes about the


withdrawal rate so you can lower that rate or raise it. And do your


reforms, some of the poorest people, if they burn an extra


pound, will pay a marginal rate of 76%. -- if they earn an extra pound.


The 98% he is talking about is a specific area to do with lone


parents but there are specific compound areas in the process that


mean people are better off staying at home then going to work. They


will be able to identify how much they are better off without needing


to have a maths degree to figure it out. They are all taken away at


different rates at the moment, it is complex and chaotic. Under universal


credit that won't happen, and they will always be better off than they


are now. Would you work that bit harder if the Government was going


to take away that portion of what you learned? At the moment you are


going to tax poor people at the same rate the French government taxes


billionaires. Millions will be better off under this system of


universal credit, I promise you and that level of withdrawal then


becomes something governments have to publicly discussed as to whether


they lower or raise it. But George Osborne wouldn't give you the extra


money to allow for the taper, is that right? The moment somebody


crosses into work under the present system, there are huge cliff edges,


in other words the immediate withdrawal makes it worse for them


to go into work than otherwise. If he had given you more money, you


could have tapered it more gently? Of course, but the Chancellor can


always ultimately make that decision. These decisions are made


by chancellors like tax rates, but it would be much easier under this


system for the public to see what the Government chooses as its


priorities. At the moment nobody has any idea but in the future it will


be. Under the Pathfinders, we are finding people are going to work


faster, doing more job searches and more likely to take work under


universal credit. Public Accounts Committee said this programme has


been worse than doing nothing, for the long-term credit. It has not


been a glorious success, has it That is wrong. Right now the work


programme is succeeding, more people are going to work, somewhere in the


order of 500,000 people have gone back into work as a result of the


programme. Around 280,000 people are in a sustained work over six


months. Many companies are well above it, and the whole point about


the work programme is that it is setup so that we make the private


sector, two things that are important, there is competition in


every area so that people can be sucked out of the programme and


others can move in. The important point here as well is this, that


actually they don't get paid unless they sustain somebody for six months


of employment. Under previous programmes under the last


government, they wasted millions paying companies who took the money


and didn't do enough to get people into work. The best performing


provider only moved 5% of people off benefit into work, the worst managed


only 2%. It is young people. That report was on the early first months


of the work programme, it is a two-year point we are now and I can


give you the figures for this. They are above the line, the improvement


has been dramatic and the work programme is better than any other


back to work programme under the last government. So why is long term


unemployment rising? It is falling. We have the largest number of people


back in work, there is more women in work than ever before, more jobs


being created, 1.6 million new jobs being created. The work programme is


working, our back to work programmes are incredibly successful at below


cost so we are doing better than the last government ever did, and it


will continue to improve because this process is very important. The


competition is what drives up performance. We want the best


performers to take the biggest numbers of people. You are


practising Catholic, Archbishop Vincent Nichols has attached your


reforms -- attack to your reforms, saying they are becoming more


punitive to the most vulnerable in the land. What do you say? I don't


agree. It would have been good if you called me before making these


attacks because most are not correct.


For the poorest temper sent in their society, they are now spending, as a


percentage of their income, less than they did before. I'm not quite


sure what he thinks welfare is about. Welfare is about stabilising


people but most of all making sure that households can achieve what


they need through work. The number of workless households under


previous governments arose consistently. It has fallen for the


first time in 30 years by nearly 18%. Something like a quarter of a


million children were growing up in workless households and are now in


households with work and they are three times more likely to grow up


with work than they would have been in workless households. Let me come


into something that he may have had in mind as being punitive - some


other housing benefit changes. A year ago, the Prime Minister


announced that people with severely disabled children would be exempt


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


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


severe disabilities. Isn't that what the Archbishop means by punitive or,


some may describe it, heartless We were originally going to appeal that


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


about families with disabled children. There are good reasons for


this. Children with conditions like that don't make decisions about


their household - their parents do - so I said we would exempt them. But


for adults with disabilities the courts have upheld all of our


decisions against complaints. But you did appeal it. It's just that,


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


overcrowded accommodation. The last government left us with 1 million


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


sitting in houses with spare bedrooms they weren't using. As we


build more houses, yes we need more, but the reality is that councils and


others have to use their accommodation carefully so that they


actually improve the lot of those living in desperate situations in


overcrowded accommodation, and taxpayers are paying a lot of


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


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


sort of housing. We've not got much time left. A centre-right think tank


that you've been associated with, on job-seeker's allowance, says 70 000


job-seekers' benefits were withdrawn unfairly. A viewer wants to know,


are these reforms too harsh and punitive? Those figures are not


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


and we will be publishing corrected figures. The reality is... Some


people have lost their job-seeker benefits and been forced to go to


food backs and they shouldn't have. No, they're not. What he is


referring to is that we allowed an adviser to make a decision if some


but it is not cooperating. We now make people sign a contract, where


they agree these things. These are things we do for you and if you


don't do these things, you are likely to have your benefit


withdrawn on job-seeker's allowance. Some of this was an fairly


withdrawn. There are millions of these things that go through. This


is a very small subset. But if you lose your job-seeker benefit


unfairly, you have no cash flow There is an immediate review within


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


reviewed. They are able to get a hardship fund straightaway if there


is a problem. We have nearly ?1 billion setup to help people,


through crisis, hardship funds and in many other ways. We've given more


than ?200 million to authorities to do face-to-face checks. This is not


a nasty, vicious system but a system that says, "look, we ask you to do


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


ends. That isn't a projection but the actual figures. But the last


figures show that child poverty has fallen by some 300,000. The


important point is... Can I just finished this point of? Child


poverty is measured against 60% of median income so this is an issue


about how we measure child poverty. You want to change the measure. I


made the decision not to publish our change figures at this point because


we've still got a bit more work to do on them but there is a big


consensus that the way we measure child poverty right now does not


measure exactly what requires to be done. For example, a family with an


individual parent who may be drug addicted and gets what we think is


enough money to be just over the line, their children may be living


in poverty but they won't be measured so we need to get a


measurement that looks at poverty in terms of how people live, not just


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


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


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


government child poverty rose consistently from 2004 and they


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


credits, in six years before the last election, the last government


spent ?175 billion chasing a poverty target and they didn't achieve what


they set out to achieve. We don t want to continue down that line


where you simply put money into a welfare system to alter a marginal


income line. It doesn't make any sense. That's why we want to change


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


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


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


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


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


about it is that until 2010, under the last government, those in


working families - poverty in working families rose by half a


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


all this. A lot more I'd like to talk about. I hope you will come


back. I will definitely come back. Thank you for joining us.


You're watching the Sunday Politics. We say goodbye to viewers


in Scotland, who leave us now for Sunday Politics Scotland.


Good morning. Welcome to thd Sunday Politics. A little ray of stnshine


coming up. Quite a lot, really. Farms are springing up all over the


West Country packed with solar panels that gather the energy of the


sun and turn it into electrhcity. There is one plan for Wiltshire that


would cover almost 100 football pitches. Why are some peopld trying


to port cold water on the schemes? `` pour cold water. Let's mdet our


guests. Robert Butland from the Conservatives, MP for Swindon, and


Sarah, running for the Liberal Democrats. Robert is a lawydr and


sets from time to time as a judge. Robert, more heavy blows for the


police this week. You believe a word they say any more? I think lost


police officers are therefore the right reasons, to do a job `nd the


community. It is always deeply worrying one we have stories such as


what we have seen this week. It means that the police have to do


even more to be gained the trust of sections of the community. That is


why I always think we should be looking at ways to reform and


improve policing. But when xou're sitting in court as a judge and you


hear the evidence of a police officer, will you take it in the


same way as you did a year `go? I have always treated police witnesses


as any other witness. They `re civilians in uniform and thdir


weight of their evidence should not be given any special category


because they are police offhcers. The majority of police officers and


the once served my communitx dedicated and professional but it is


clear that we need to do more in order to help them do their job


better. Sarah, in Somerset, people in a black background are more


likely `` four times more lhkely to be stopped and searched as their


white citizens. `` white fellow citizens. Is that acceptabld? No. I


have probably read the same things as you have the statistics. We


needed to continue to do solething about that. People who are


desperately short of money `nd need a short`term loan are not bding


offered the assistance of their `` if they are entitled to clahm. The


Government has a scheme to help people but they're not been


informed. Most Mac `` they `re not being informed. At a Bristol food


bank, Gemma socks up. She h`s most to be. What is here will help well


the new benefits come through. Now, she just needs money for thd rest of


life's essentials. Could yot do with the cash of violence? Definhtely.


Have a loan. `` with a cash injection. Short`term benefht


advances are available. I dhd not know about that. I have nevdr been


told about that. I could have done with that definitely. And that is


really Jobcentre comes in. Staff in here should be offering somd


claimants in advance on the benefits to take them over. But we h`ve been


told this just is not happening in Bristol. People do not know they


even exist to ask for them. There are no posters and nothing hn the


literature on display. Nobody knows about it, including the people who


are supposed to be actually dispensing it! If they do not know,


how are our clients supposed to know. FA centres are trying to get


the message out. They are even taking on the job centres


themselves. On a number of occasions, we have had to rhng them


up and talk them through thdir own guidance. You ring up and they say


that you cannot have that and we tell them you can and they say does


not exist. The Government s`ys that staff in his job centres have been


fully briefed and fully trahned on offering these short`term loans


Although they could not tell us how many had been given out in Bristol.


The question is, of course, if people are not getting monex from


here, and they still find themselves in financial difficulties, where are


they going? Let me take you on a short walk. To hear. City H`ll. They


have got a ?1.7 million crisis fund to give out to people in dire


straits. Now, three quarters of that money have already gone. We have


learned that most of the people who are trying to access it are being


referred here by the job centres. Is there a problem that a lot of people


are then going to the local crisis who should be getting his loans


Yes. Water the council tell you That is an ongoing problem `nd be


quite quickly agree that thdy are supposed to be the next port of


call, not the first. Time to talk to the man in charge. Iain Duncan


Smith. People in job centres are not making claimant to wear and are


instead pushing them towards crisis loans. Are you aware of that? No.


There are a whole range of things at the job centres, as well as having


localised the social fund. Ht is a team effort really between the two.


Sometimes it is more relevant for councils to deal with, other times


the job centres are capable of dealing with that themselves.


Sometimes it works, sometimds it does not. " Times could happen more


often. Able just do not know what they are entitled to. `` those old


times. With me is a Catholic priest who has


been working at food banks. What have you witnessed? An incrdasing


need for food banks, both hdre in Bristol and in Gloucester where I


was a few years ago. The fact that more and more people seem to be


slipping into safety nets. Hs the church becoming more politically


involved by speaking out ag`inst poverty? Let's have a look `t the


weather no. It is the church speaking out for those who do not


have a voice, the poor. `` `gainst poverty? No, it is not.


This is not poverty in the vocal sense, is it? It is not what we are


one of the seven largest economies in the world and we have people who


cannot afford to eat. It saxs a lot about our values and how we are


helping people, or not. Sar`h, the first time the Liberal Democrats


have been in power in government in a century. Albeit in coalithon. Are


you ashamed that there are food banks in this country? No. We need


to look at what has happened here. Under the last government, job


centres and local agencies were not encouraged at all to tell pdople


about food banks. Food banks were available but people were not


directed there. I think what we are seeing at the moment is a mtch


greater way of communicating that you can go to food banks and


actually, I think it shows ` lot of community spirit. Food banks are


there. They are doing a fantastic job and they are serving a purpose.


The poor little inclined to vote or to mobilise themselves. Thex are


perhaps not as ridiculous as the middle classes. Do you listdn to


them as a politician? Of cotrse `` not as articular. You said they did


not have a voice. I wonder how closely people are listening when


what we are hearing from politicians is the need for food banks `nd how


good they are and it is meaning that the charity of the people around,


who are all taxpayers, are having to use additional money to do things


for people who the Government are not helping. Are you worried that by


supporting these food banks that actually you are encouraging welfare


dependency and that is not biblical? There is always a temptation with


the banks for people to look at them as being welfare dependent. The way


most of them operate is that you can on a good three lots of food from


their enemy one period. It hs to help in an emergency, not to give


people a problem to deal with for eternity. Do you suspect thd


Government is deliberately `voiding telling people that they can get


short`term advances on their benefits because they do not want


the news getting at? I cert`inly hope not. These funds are there for


a purpose. They are there to help people in crisis. One of thd


problems identified is the gap where people are waiting for their


benefits but genuinely have no else to turn. The food bank can often be


invaluable. I think it is about training and the more that we train


our dedicated staff in John centres `` job centres to get that


information out, the more pdople can be assisted. Whether we are


Christians are not, we have a moral obligation to help the poordst in


our society but also to makd the welfare system a further ond. That


is why the public support wdlfare reform overwhelmingly and why we


have to rebalance it so that those genuinely in need get the stpport


they need. Is that the Government that supports the rich and the


powerful? And the rich get richer and deeper at the four banks get


poor? But if you look at thd evidence, inequality is acttally


listening. `` and the poor `t the food banks get poorer. The poorest


part of our society actuallx, there was evidence that the gaps were


narrowing. I accept that thdre are people out there who are genuinely


crisis. I meet them week in week out. They deserve the help from


organisations like food banks and the Government and they must get


that help stop and the bankdrs and their bonuses, they are enthtled to


keep those well there are food banks down the road? I am not a stpporter


of bankers and bonuses, nevdr have been. I believe that the banks still


have a lot to learn. But whx is the Government not doing anything about


it? They are. You look at the way that we tax bankers' bonuses. The


weight of the financial system has been reformed. You will find that


real action has been taken. The idea that somehow this government is not


care about inequality is colpletely wrong. Final word from you. What is


it about the Virgin Islands the needle? It is easier for a camel to


pass through the eye of the needle than a rich man to get into heaven.


It is interesting to see if you want to know what people think about


bankers' bonuses, ask peopld at the food bank. `` what is it about the


rich man in the eye of the needle. 's some people's thoughts are


turning to solar panel, powdr as the `` solar power panels as thd sun


comes out. It is prompting ` scorching row.


Coming soon to a field near you Solar power is booming as Britain


shifts to cleaner energy. This solar farm is one of the first in


Wiltshire. Close by, another is planned, 20 times larger. If it goes


ahead, it will be `` what whll be constructive in this field will be


one of Britain's's biggest solar farms. So many are planned for this


area and local are angry. There could be no less than seven in a


five mile radius. In the village, they have mobilised. One has already


got planning so we are surrounded. They are putting pressure on


Wiltshire Council which will decide whether to grant planning


permission. We are very pro`renewable energy. We ard just


scared and concerned that otr area is going to be blighted by such


overwhelming numbers of sol`r panels. The firm behind the biggest


scheme have some local backhng. It will go all great agricultural land.


The community will receive ?40, 00 per year. It is claimed fears have


been exaggerated. And there are over 50,000 acres within five miles, 500


acres within 50,000 is roughly %. This is a very minor part of the


actual land area that is getting used by sober. Within that context,


even those sites I've been designed discreetly so the visual impact is a


very minimal. MPs are concerned In a recent debate, all agreed using


brownfield sitess was best. Ministers enough, insist enough is


being done to protect countryside. This is why we have issued further


planning practice guidance on renewable and low carbon endrgy


This 90 acre site just out side Swindon is nearing completion. The


owners took little persuading. Animals cannot be get in thd winter.


It is greatly one and certahnly not arable. I am a retired dairx farmer.


I am looking towards retirelent and this scheme came along just at the


right time. Visiting this wdek, the scones and counsellor would like to


see many more. `` the Swindon counsellor. Sort of about two years


to build? On Tuesday, he ails to get council agreement to relax rules.


Swindon would become the first place in Britain were solar farms might


not need planning permission. We are very clear they not imposing solar


farms on any community. What the council is looking for is for


businesses, landowners, parhsh councils, community groups `nd


residents to nominate which fields or locations around the town they


believe will be uncontroversial and can take a solid form. We whll then


use a local development orddr to loosen the planning controls around


it but insist that they still deal with the design, the energy to


protect residents and reasstre neighbours of the sites. It is


ambitious but Swindon is a town that is known for its innovation and this


is another one of those ide`s where we can read from the front. In


Swindon, it could become thd first place in Britain to get a ftller


sound barrier. The council hs working on plans to arrange solar


panels beside the busy A149, it will also shield nearby houses from the


noise. They are not expecting opposition to building on these


grass strips but Britain's big drive for Renewable Energy road m`p and


controversially cover the fhelds beyond.


With me is a retired energy consultant and he is here whth us


now. Solar panels, what is not to like? They are industrial as he love


the countryside. Depending, of course, where they are located. I


mean, we have seen them in Devon, where I live, huge solar farms.


Serried ranks of panels intdrspersed with converter housings, controlled


Gammons, transform buildings and all surrounded by security fencds with


CCTV cameras on top. `` control stations. It is clean, green


electricity. It is said to be clean and green but there is no absolute


evidence because it produces electricity only very briefly during


the summer. At that time, other power stations have to come off the


grid. Why is your organisathon committed to seeing renewable energy


increased in this country? Our organisation is a broadbrush


organisation. It has county branch is staffed by volunteers. So you do


not agree with each other? No. We have national policy and thdn we


have policy in the counties. Those policies will be different. It


depends on the situation. Wdt spring and Sarah. You have seen thdse


around Europe for constituency. `` let bring in Sarah. What yot think


of them. I think solar energy is a really important part of endrgy mix


but you have to look at sol`r farm applications on a case`by`c`se


basis. Sometimes it is appropriate for the area, other times, clearly,


if it is a braided Greensledves of outstanding natural beauty, it may


be less appropriate. `` if ht is a large green area of outstanding Is


this called for saying that one part of the county will object and


another part will campaign? Not necessarily. You have to listen to


local people. The local people never really won something like this on


their door stop. I am not stre about that. There is a community solar


farm near me in the community were very much in favour of it btt that


is because they were consulted and played a big part in it. In fact,


they all played a part in pttting the solar panels up and building at.


There are ways and means th`t it can be done more effectively, bx


bringing local people in with the process. It is not all about the


solar farms. I personally would like to see every new house that is


built, every new supermarket, has solar panels on them. Some people do


not allow them on the roof. Some people do not. Robert, do you


support this one in Wiltshire? The biggest one in England is bding


planned for an old RAF site near to where I live. We are very stpportive


of that concept because there will be feeding tariff so local dnergy


will be generated with a reduction in energy costs. Also there will be


community funding also. That is an example of engaging the comlunity,


bringing them on`board at the beginning, and then went on to


develop the sort of schemes which we see. What do you say to this man who


is objecting? The question hs, would you put them? You've got to put them


somewhere. Order you not bother with them? My personal view would be that


you do not bother with them because the amount of energy they produce


for the huge industrialisathon because of minute. A ten megawatts


solar farm was produce an average of one megawatt which is a tinx medical


testing. Cooperate that powdr? A few homes, basically. I mean, wd could


have a diesel generator in this building that would produce much


more power than a ten megaw`tts solar farm. So you do not w`nt solar


panels. You not too keen on turbines. You do not like btdgetary


power stations. What do you like a question I did not say we do not


like those things. They shotld be in the appropriate locations. Where is


appropriate? There are nucldar power stations at inappropriate locations.


Offshore wind power is. Sol`r farms are horrendously subsidised so it is


costing everybody a lot of loney. Anybody want to defend? I think


solar power has to be part of the mix. Amenities like Swindon are


leading the way in showing that we can generate power locally `nd that


is good for communities and good for the future sustainability of energy


supply. You can make it sensible and work for people. In Somerset, there


is an environmental centre that actually use... The pains looked


like slaves. They are very fitting with the environment so if xou put


them on your roof, you cannot tell the solar panels. Would that help


you? It is still heavily centralised so costing a lot of people loney but


they are disguised on routes than that is the place to put thdm. Thank


you for coming in today. Time for a look back at the


political week just gone by. Let's set the timer to 60 seconds.


The cost of preventing future floods on the Somerset Levels over the next


20 years is reckoned to be ?100 million. A new action plan promises


dredging a tidal, `` dredging, he said Barrett and pumping st`tions.


John Osmond was not keen on a local tax to help fund the work. That is


one of the things that has been raised. There is a lot of


one of the things that has been raised. There is a lot disctssion to


have stopped I am not in favour of that.


Bristol Rovers had an away fixture at Downing Street. A petition was


delivered backing a supermarket at the Memorial Stadium.


Evil in Wiltshire were told about plans to has another 4000 pdrsonnel


across Salisbury. The mayor won the Ministry of Defence to conshder the


impact on the area. Is a third crossing over thd River


Severn a bridge too far? Forest of Dean MP Mark Harbour thinks not He


once told from the existing two bridges to find a new one.


`` that was the week just gone. `` he wants the told me. Next week we


will be looking at brussels. Do you think the Lib Dems will ever


convince the public on Europe? I do. I think this debate is going to be


very interesting. I think that Nick will come out on top and will..


It's funny you should think he will come out on topics like I absolutely


think he will. I am glad th`t Nigel Farage has accepted the challenge.


Robert, are you glad that some members of the Tory party, with


anti`European feelings, havd pushed off and join UKIP? Are you well shot


of them? People have to makd their own political choices and I do not


worry about other parties. H am a positive European conservathve. I


would welcome a debate. If we have a referendum, a good thing. Wd can


make the positive case and let the people decide. I am pretty sure they


would decide in favour of continued them ship but I have no problem with


democracy. And give a much. That is th`t from


the West. Thank you to Sarah and Robert. I am off to pack my bags for


a European travels but. `` travels. We will be tweeting pictures to


prove we are hard at work. Got up on Twitter. Now, back to Andrew.


Gove is right to focus. We've run out of time. Thanks for being here.


Andrew, back to you. Now, without further ado, more from


our political panel. Iain Martin, what did you make of Iain Duncan


Smith's response to the Danny Alexander point I'd put to him? I


thought it was a cheekily put response but actually, on Twitter,


people have been tweeting while on air that there are lots of examples


where the Tories have demanded the raising of the threshold. The 2 06


Forsyth tax omission is another example. Helen, on the bigger issue


of welfare reforms, is welfare reform, as we head into the


election, despite all the criticisms, still a plus for the


government? I don't think so. Whatever the opposite of a Midas


touch is, Iain Duncan Smith has got it. David Cameron never talks about


universal credit any more. The record on personal independence


payment, for example... We didn t get onto that. Only one in six of


those notes have been paid. A toss pulling out of their condiment has


been a nightmare. It's a very big minus point for the Secretary of


State. -- Atos pulling out of bed contract. Welfare cuts are an


unambiguous point for the government but other points more ambiguous I


don't think it's technical complexity that makes IDS's reform a


problem. The IT gets moved out with time. But even if it's in fermented


perfectly, what it will achieve has been slightly oversold, I think and


simplified incredibly. All it does is improve incentives to work for


one section of the income scale and diminishes it at another. Basically,


you are encouraged to go from working zero hours to 16 hours but


your incentive to work beyond 1 goes down. That's not because it's a


horrendous policy but because in work benefits systems are


imperceptible. Most countries do worse than we do. -- benefits


systems cannot be perfected. They need to tone down how much this can


achieve even if it all goes flawlessly. There are clearly


problems, particularly within limitation, but Labour is still wary


of welfare reform. -- with implementation. Polls suggest it is


rather popular. People may not know what's involved were like the sound


of it. I think Janan is right to mark out the differences between


welfare cuts and welfare reforms. They are related but distinct. Are


we saying cuts are more popular than reform? They clearly are. The


numbers, when you present people numbers on benefit reductions, are


off the scale. Reform, for the reasons you explored in your


interview, is incredibly compensated. What's interesting is


that Labour haven't really definitively said what their


position is on this. I think they like - despite what they may see in


public occasionally - some of what universal credit might produce but


they don't want to be associated with it. We probably won't know


until if Ed Miliband is Prime Minister precisely what direction


Labour will go. Immigration is still a hot topic in Westminster and


throughout the country. This new Home Office minister, James


Brokenshire, made an intervention. Let's see what he had to say. For


too long, the benefits of immigration went to employers who


wanted an easy supply of cheap labour or to the wealthy


metropolitan elite who wanted cheap tradesmen and services, but not to


the ordinary hard-working people of this country. With the result that


the Prime Minister and everyone else has to tell us all whether they ve


now got Portuguese or whatever it is Nanny is. Is this the most


cack-handed intervention on an immigration issue in a long list? I


think it is and when I saw this being trailed the night before, I


worried for him. As soon as a minister of the Crown uses the


phrase "wealthy metropolitan elite" more likely we see it in recession.


We've just had the worst recession in several decades. It's no small


problem but compared to what ministers like James Brokenshire has


been saying for the past few years and also the reluctance to issue the


report earlier, I thought that, combined with the speech, made it


quite a bad week for the department. Was this a cack-handed attempt to


appeal to the UKIP voters? I think so and he's predecessor had to leave


the job because of having a foreign cleaner. It drew attention to the


Tories' biggest problem, the out of touch problem. Most people around


the country probably don't have a Portuguese nanny and you've just put


a big sign over David Cameron saying, this man can afford a


Portuguese Nanny. It is not the finest political operation ever


conducted and the speech was definitely given by the Home Office


to Number Ten but did Number Ten bother to read it? It was a complete


shambles. The basic argument that there is a divide between a wealthy


metropolitan elite and large parts of Middle Britain or the rest of the


country I think is basically sound. It is but they are on the wrong side


of it. What do you mean by that The Tory government is on the wrong


side. This is appealing to UKIP voters and we know that UKIP is


appealing to working-class voters who have previously voted Labour and


Tory. If you set up that divide make sure you are on the right side


stop When you talk about metropolitan members of the media


class, they say that it is rubbish and everyone has a Polish cleaner.


No, they don't. I do not have a clean! I don't clean behind the


fridge, either! Most people in the country don't have a cleaner. The


problem for the Tories on this is, why play that game? You can't


out-UKIP UKIP. After two or three years of sustained Tory effort to do


that, they will probably finish behind UKIP. Do we really want a


political system where it becomes an issue of where your nanny or your


cleaner is from, if you've got one? Unless, of course, they're illegal.


But Portuguese or Italian or Scottish... And intervention was


from Nick Clegg who said his wife was Dutch -- his mum was Dutch and


his wife was Spanish. Not communism but who your cleaner is! It's the


McCarthy question! Where does your cleaner come from. A lot of people


will say are lucky to have a cleaner. I want to move onto selfies


but first, on the Nigel Farage Nick Clegg debate, let's stick with


the TV one. Who do you think will win? Nigel Farage. Clegg. He is a


surprisingly good in debates and people have forgotten. I think Clegg


is going to win. I think Farage has peaked. We're going to keep that on


tape as well! Two 214 Clegg there. Selfies. Politicians are attempting


to show they're down with the kids. Let's look at some that we've seen


in recent days. Why are they doing this, Helen? I'm


so embarrassed you call me reading the SNP manifesto, as I do every


Saturday! They do it because it makes them seem authentic and that's


the big Lie that social media tells you - that you're seeing the real


person. You're not, you're seeing a very carefully manicured, more witty


person. That doesn't work for politicians. It looks so fake and


I'm still suffering the cringe I see every time I see Cameronserious


phone face. Does Mr Cameron really think it big Sim up because he's on


the phone to President Obama? Obama is not the personality he once was.


There is an international crisis in Ukraine - of course we are expecting


to be speaking to Obama! And if you were in any doubt about what a man


talking on the telephone looks like, here's a photo. I must confess, I


didn't take my own selfie. Did your nanny? My father-in-law took it


Where is your father-in-law from? Scotland. Just checking. Janan, I


think we've got one of you. The 1%! What a great telephone! Where did


you get that telephone? It looks like Wolf Of Wall Street! That's


what I go to bed in. It showed how excited Cameron was to be on the


phone to Obama. All our politicians think they are living a mini version


of US politics. President Obama goes on a big plane and we complain when


George Osborne goes first class on first Great Western. They want to be


big and important like American politics but it doesn't work. We'll


see your top at next week! That's it for this week. Faxed all


our guests. The Daily Politics is on all this week at lunchtime on BBC


Two. We'll be back here same time, same place next week. Remember, if


it's Sunday, it is the Sunday Politics.


Andrew Neil and David Garmston 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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