13/11/2011 The Politics Show London


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This week on the Politics Show: Vince Cable offers sympathy to the


St Paul's protesters and threatens tough action on executive pay.


But what about the economy? The Business Secretary tells us his


plan for growth, and we get the Shadow Chancellor's verdict.


And are Government plans to take child benefit from higher rate


taxpayers fair? We hear from the Tory backbench women who want the


policy changed. In London this week, the Government


is allowing X service personnel to jump the queue for housing.


And the promise to get rid of the rough sleeping in 2012. What might


And joining me today, Polly Toynbee from The Guardian, and Paul Waugh


from the Politics Home website. Welcome to you both. But first the


news, with Tim Willcox. Good afternoon. Italy's president


has begun consultations on forming a new government following the


resignation of Silvio Berlusconi. He is likely to be succeeded by the


economist, Mario Monti. The new government's main task will be to


implement a strict austerity plan aimed at tackling Italy's massive


debt crisis. Christian Fraser reports.


A warning that this report contains flash photography.


A bright new day in the politics and a prime minister-in-waiting was


on his way to church. Mario Monti maintains a low profile but his


mood reflects the new-found optimism that many of his


countrymen share. Meanwhile, a procession of party leaders have


been arriving at the Presidential Palace. 86-year-old Giorgio


Napolitano is working his way through a gruelling schedule of


meetings, trying to secure a working majority for the new


interim government. TRANSLATION: Today is a day of


national liberation. The country was in the hands of an egotistical


man, said Antonio. He used institutions for his own good. And


how many shared that view? Last night Silvio Berlusconi arrived at


the Palace to the whistles of the mob. He will be the last leader


consulted today. Berlusconi says they will back Mario Monti but he


has warned that he can and will pull the plug when every he chooses.


In other words, the ex-Prime Minister may have left the stage,


but he still wields considerable power from the wings.


Syria has called for an emergency Arab summit to discuss the unrest


in the country. Today has seen large pro-government demonstrations


in Damascus following the Arab League's decision to suspend


Syria's membership over its crackdown on protestors.


The Queen has led ceremonies to mark Remembrance Sunday, laying a


wreath at the Cenotaph in central London. A two-minute silence was


observed across the UK and at British military bases around the


world, to remember those who have lost their lives in armed conflict.


Ben Ando reports. Gathered to remember the glorious


dead. And to reflect on their ultimate sacrifice. At 11am, the


hour the guns fell silent 93 years In uniform... In thought... In the


capital and in cities, towns and villages around the United Kingdom


And after two minutes precisely, the Last Post, an end to the


silence. And a queue for the laying of the reefs as the nation


remembers so many have died so that many more might live. -- of the


reeds. Your next news is that 6pm.


The people have spoken. Well, a handful of them have. And they've


effectively seen off two democratically elected prime-


ministers in a week. Given the straight choice between honouring


the will of the people and doing what is needed to keep the eurozone


intact, it's clear where the key decision makers in Brussels stand.


Paul, it has been extraordinary, hasn't it? First Papandreou and now


Berlusconi gone? The people who have really dictated this timetable


are the bond traders. Because elections are messy and they take


time. The markets don't have time. And the Arab Spring has marked the


beginning of the toppling of all these dodgy regimes. I have a bit


of a problem - with the people decide. We will see. He Polly, what


do you think? I think we have to look with great suspicion at these


technocratic government. Everybody is political and people above


politics are always on the side of the banks and the markets. It is


the default position. There is no technocratic left? Not really. If


people asked and a say, I am not very political, it nearly always


turns out there on the right. People who declare themselves as


political tend to be on the left. So we should be well aware that


this is the markets in place, whether it is Mario Monti or the


new government in Greece, this is a right wing movement. They will be


for extreme austerity and for screwing down the poorest, and it


will be very hard on those countries. Thank you to both before


the moment. -- to both of you. Now, as we've been hearing, things


are little rocky on the economic front, and not just in Greece and


Italy but here in Britain, too. With economic growth increasingly


microscopic, it falls to Business Secretary Vince Cable to come up


with a plan to get things moving again. We'll hear from him in a


moment, but first, here's a reminder of the stormy weather


ahead. Vince Cable built his reputation on


a gift for forecasting the economic weather. There was a gloomy outlook.


We now face a crisis which is the economic equivalent of war. It has


proven right. An economic hurricane blew away the Greek Prime Minister


and this week, the high pressure got too much of Silvio Berlusconi,


who was forced to announce his resignation as Italy borrowing


costs soared to new and dangerous heights. But what about domestic


conditions? The Business Secretary is responsible for growth and


strategy. But the predictions for 2011 and are just not 0.7 and 0.6%


for 2012. Even though the Autumn Statement is coming up on the


horizon in November, there is little chance of sunshine short


term. Earlier this week, Vince Cable said large-scale tax cuts and


big increases in public spending are not under consideration. It is


one thing predicting things. But governments are expected to make


the weather, too. Mince cable has to make sure we can look forward to


a brighter days. -- Vince Cable. Well, yesterday I met Vince Cable


in his Twickenham constituency. I began by asking his just how


serious the current crisis is. There is a serious problem and it


is not just a British problem. Primarily, the crisis is centred on


Europe at the moment, but it is serious. The eurozone is in


difficulties and the United States is finding it difficult to make


headway in terms of sensible decision-making, and this affects


us. Of course, we have got our inherited problems. Not just the


deficit, which is difficult enough, but all the problems with over-


dependence on housing and the excessive debt of households. So it


is difficult. And you talk about this crisis, and yet if you are an


FTSE director and you have seen your pay go up by 49%, it must look


like a very different landscape? Yes, and I think that is what


causes so much public anger and indignation and the protests.


you have sympathy with the protesters? I have sympathy with


the feelings behind it. Some of the recommendations are not helpful but


that is not the. Margaret. It does reflect a small number of people


doing very well in the crisis. There are numbers of people who


played no part in causing the crisis and to have been hurt. One


thing I have done is to set up a review into executive pay and how


that can be reformed, and how shareholders can exert more


influence over the companies they own. We have also set up a process


of looking at a long-term strategy, said business has to look at the


long term and not just respond to short-term crisis. When you say


action, what? Legislation? That might be necessary. Do you think it


will be? Possibly. So there is legislation in the new year to deal


with executive pay? That is quite possible. We have a consultation


and if it is necessary, we will introduce it. How would it work?


There are many different ways of strengthening the role of


shareholders in companies, because what has happened in the past is


that most big companies are owned by pension funds and insurance


companies. It is getting those institutions to be active and


socially responsible as shareholders. It that could be


reforms they can undertake themselves and might require


pressure from the side of legislative reform. Is this a


warning shot? I certainly think they should be conscious of the


impact this is having on the rest of the public. Most British


companies are well run with good management, properly paid. But the


underlying problem, which evidence has already demonstrated, is that


pay has far outstripped the performance of companies and there


is no justification for that. go to the other end of the scale


and talk about the up grading of benefits. We have had high


inflation, over 5%, this year. Should benefits go up by that


amount? We would certainly want to protect the most vulnerable in


society. And that is why one of the first acts of the new government


was to lock in the pension levels for state pensioners. We do believe


that the most vulnerable people in society should be protected in


these very difficult conditions. That is not quite the answer to my


question. Do you believe benefits should go up with inflation?


course they will. No doubt? doubt. Of course they should be


indexed and that is fully understood. There are issues about


timing and detail that will be clarified. But the principle is


absolutely clear, but the Government will protect benefits


from inflation. Issues of timing and detailed - what does that mean?


We will have to see what comes out of the autumn quarter. I am not


making policy up on the hoof. You will have to wait and see what the


Chancellor says. But the Government is committed to protecting those


who are most vulnerable in society through state benefits and pensions.


But for example, if you have a low- paid worker flatlining and their


pay has not gone up, if you increase benefits by 5.2%, the gap


between a worker and a non-work is narrowing. It becomes more


advantageous to stay on benefits? The response to that problem is to


lift the low-paid workers out of tax, and it is what we are


committed to doing as a coalition government. The Lib Dem policy was


getting it up to 10,000 and we are committed to doing that step-by-


step, and that is the way in which you help the low-paid workers.


Let's go to where we started. You talked about the problems in the


eurozone at the moment. Seal borrowing costs in France rise


quite steeply, how concerned are you that France is next? We are


talking about something that is fairly remote in this fairly


negative scenario, but the position in the eurozone is very difficult.


How well do you think the eurozone has acquitted itself in delivering?


They have not acquitted themselves very well in recent months because


they have been consistently behind the game. But I think the positive


outcome of what has happened is that they do now understand what


they have to do, the key elements are being put in place, and the


question is whether they will be strong enough to get on top of this


and turn the eurozone around. about this idea that there will be


a eurozone group of key nations and this outer ring, where Britain has


next to absolutely no in Florence? We would certainly not want this to


happen. We would want Britain to be fully embedded in the decision-


making in the single market, which is actually the core organisation,


as far as we are concerned. We have to strengthen it. We certainly do


not want a situation to revolve where we are excluded from


decision-making. And would bear need to be treaty negotiations to


make that happen? - Matt Wood there need to be? Are there no power as


you would like to see repatriated? There is a major crisis hanging


around and they have to sort out the eurozone problem. Having a


debate on which powers are conducted at European level or


British level is utterly irrelevant to the crisis we face. So 81


Conservatives have utterly irrelevant views on that? It is not


relevant to the practical policy issues we face. If it is battered


back and forth over the last decade... It seems to have animated


a large number of your colleagues? It would be helpful if we focused


on the issues to sort out the eurozone crisis. That is what we


have to focus on her and I hope my colleagues have those priorities.


In the midst of these problems, what role of the European Central


Bank? Should it be helping sort out We discovered in 2008 in our own


country that you need to have a strong central bank that can do


that. They need that at European level and that is one of the issues.


Are you frustrated by Angela Merkel's stance on this? It is not


for me to be frustrated because we are not members of the Eurozone,


but in addition to the disciplines that the southern Europeans are


going to have to adopt, the Germans will have to play their role in


supporting the Eurozone, making absolutely sure that the relevant


countries are supported with adequate liquidity. Will the


Germans do that? I know that they must. I do not want to go back over


the arguments of the 2010 election, but effectively were saying that if


you cut too far too fast it will damage the economy. He brought in


the austerity package but everything you said prior to that


election seems to have come true, were your right then? I was right


and what I said on behalf of the Liberal Democrats is that you need


to have a balance. On the one hand, if you have fiscal contraction


which is too severe, you damage growth. If you do not do it fast


enough, the risk precipitating the loss of confidence in the markets.


It is about getting the balance right and in the difficult


circumstances in which we entered government it was imperative that


we establish confidence. We have done that and the UK has been


rewarded with very low borrowing costs and interest rates. In that


sense the policy has succeeded, but we also need to emphasise growth,


and that is partly about giving a stimulus, which we are getting


through monetary policy. I was arguing for QE some months ago.


that Plan B? No, part of plan is to use monetary policy to stimulate


demand. We also need to look at the longer term question of how we


balance the economy to get proper growth, which is my job in


government, that is about exports and manufacturers, supporting


apprenticeships and technology centres, supply chains, changing


the way we look at government procurement. That is how we will


get sustainable growth. When you heard Tom Watson described James


Murdoch as a Mafia boss, dig you have sympathy with him? -- a dig


you have sympathy. I am just getting on with my job. This has


become a legal issue, the courts will sort out the issues of the


hacking scandal. Did you find it amusing? Tom Watson has a good turn


of phrase. Let's leave it at that. I am not making any further comment.


The Vince Cable, thank you very much.


Believe it or not, there was some good news about the UK economy last


week when the cost of government borrowing fell as a cost of


investors viewing the UK government gilts is a safe haven in the euro


crisis. Earlier Rice spoke to the shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, and I


began by asking him if he accepted that this was evidence that the


Government's debt reduction strategy was working. It is a funny


kind of haven to Levin When you have unemployment rising to his 17


year high. There is no doubt that Britain, America, Germany, not


being in the core of the euro going wrong are not seeing the higher


default premiums in the interest rates, but the reason why interest


rates are historically low in Britain is not good news -- is not


good news. This is because our short term interest rates are


expected to stay low because our economy is flat lining,


unemployment is rising and there is no prospect of the Bank of England


changing course. The Government says we are no safe haven because


of these interest rates, but most experts will Likud that and say


that it is spin from a government trying to divert attention from


their policies and what they have done. Standard and Poor's, one of


the world's leading credit agencies has given us a warning that our


triple-A rating could come under downward pressure if the


Government's commitment to fiscal consolidation falters. Whether the


credit agencies lead the debate or follow is something we need to


decide. Going back to August, the US had a downgrade from a ratings


agency. On your argument, their long-term rating should have gone


up, but it fell. This is because people said the American economy


will not grow. If Britain has a prolonged period of stagnation, the


Government should change course on the deficit. The idea that they are


still not doing so, using this safe haven argument is laughable. One


year ago the spin from the government was that our plan will


work can the private sector will deliver growth. We are now in a


position where David Cameron, George Osborne, Nick Clegg, are


trying to tell people that however bad it is, 80 is the Eurozone


crisis. It is important that the BBC do not fall for this argument.


I used in the Eurozone crisis is having no impact? Off-course side


did not say that. I warned a year ago that if there is a global


hurricane you should not undermine the foundations of your house. --


of course it is. The Government has made things worse because our


slowdown happen before the Eurozone crisis. We have bigger rises in


unemployment and we're weaker and less able to withstand this latest


crisis because of what the Government has done. Our exports to


the euro area have gone up by 17 %. Consumers and businesses are losing


conference -- confidence and been hit by this rapid contraction in


fiscal policy. They are in difficulty and the longer this goes


on, the bigger the pain will be. have heard from Vince Cable


speaking about the need to get growth into the UK economy. We read


in the papers that there may be �50 billion worth of investments


brought forward for infrastructure products like roads. Do you welcome


that? If it is true, I welcome it. Your first question to Vince Cable


was, this is the equivalent of a war in the economy. That is quite


right but after the Second World War we took many more years to


repay a higher level of debt. The Government are trying to do this in


one stage, and it is flat lining growth. We set out of five point


plan which is more balanced. If it is the case that the government is


now adopting one of those points, by bringing forward infrastructure


investment, good. But it has got to be real and have a stimulus for the


economy. George Osborne is saying that the �50 billion will come from


private investment. I just want to ask you bite your plan. How much


will you growth plan cost? We have been clear that one of the elements


would be a temporary cut in VAT. For how long? If we did that for


one year it would cost �20 billion. Do you think it should be for one


year or five years? It all depends how long it takes this recovery to


get moving. I think we could get the recovery moving over the next


year. One year ago we had a recovery and falling unemployment


before Vince Cable ignored the Liberal Democrat manifesto and the


Government decided that my I want to stick with your plans.


billion in VAT, how much will the rest of it cost? The second part


will raise �2 billion from bank bonuses to spend on 100,000 jobs


from -- for housing and young people. That obviously pays for


itself. Small companies will boost job creation and take on employees.


We have also said cut VAT for one year, for repairs and maintenance,


to get help for small companies. People think that might cost half a


billion pounds, but if you get more growth and jobs, aid we pay for


itself. Finally, bring forward public investment projects. You


cannot have these that do not effect borrowing. George Osborne is


saying 50 billion, up but that is deeply irresponsible. You have got


to hold into account. We need Labour's plan for jobs and growth.


On executive pay, Vince Cable is speaking about introducing


legislation in the new year. Will you be backing him? If he brings


forward legislation we will look at it. I thought Vince Cable was


deeply confused about the past and the future. We introduced in


government legislation which says that every person being paid more


than �1 million, their pay and bonus should be made public. The


government had refused to use that legislation. He could use that


legislation now. Why does he not act? He cannot sit there and say, I


have got a problem, and then prevaricate about action, on


executive pay, abide by and bonuses, about jobs and pay. We do not want


these confused interviews, we need action. We need to get the deficit


down. From the interview today, I did not see any sign of leadership


action, just excuses. Polly, what do you make of the move by Vince


Cable to deal with executive pay, speaking about legislation in the


new year? Very interesting. As Ed Balls says you could start by using


the legislation that is there are ready to make things more


transparent, Batam not sure that transparency does anything because


we know they have earned these grotesque 49 % increases. I do not


know until we see the legislation. The problem is that the shale


holders -- the problem is that the shareholders are sitting on each


other committees. They have got the power and they could be voting


against bonuses, but it does not happen. Paul Waugh, interesting to


see Vince Cable linking the issue of executive pay with the


protesters at St Paul's, offering sympathy, I have sympathy for what


they're doing is not your proposals. You could have got in any week of


any year, for the last decade, protesters that would want to go


outside St Paul's Cathedral and say that there is a crisis in


capitalism? This is because the 99 % feel that the 1% has caused this


crisis. If you buy into that, people on the steps of St Paul's


will get some air play, but I do not believe that Vince Cable's has


converted -- that Vince Cable has converted to direct action, nor has


David Cameron. Let's be honest, pension funds are the ones that


will be the most active about this. Polly, what do you make of the


political reaction there has been to the St Paul's demonstration?


is fascinating. They have had an incredible impact in three weeks.


They have got the Archbishop of Canterbury to write an article in


the Financial Times calling for a Robin Hood tax. He would not have


done it without them. It has focused attention on the Church of


England, no longer the Conservative Party at prayer, but to the left.


The reason it has been so effective, the great drama that is going on is


what Vince Cable calls the war had there. Everyone knows this


appalling cloud is coming our way. There is alarm about crisis in


capitalism. At the end of the month, George Osborne will set out his


financial statement. Do you believe that in terms of growth strategy


we're hearing the government speak about growth more, but maybe there


is not that much difference now between Labour and the coalition on


the issue of cause? What is curious is the way that this Chancellor, I


deeply political Chancellor, is using Gordon Brown's style policies


to promote this idea of credit easing. It is a classic Gordon


Brown idea. Similarly we have the idea that you get more private


sector bondholders to promote investment in infrastructure. The


sound politically sensible, so that is why he is going to do them. He


will try and get lots of plaudits from stealing Labour's clothes when


he stands up in the House later this month. The real battle will be


over who gets the blame for the sluggish growth we will injured


during the next few years. The Government is building up the alibi


Will be growth strategy roar like a lion or squeak like a mouse? Well,


if private industry were going to invest in these things they would


have done so by now. Large companies are sitting on very large


sums of money, afraid to invest. We need to make them let go of the


money but I do not see any signs of the Government winning to be that


imaginative. And also, if he really wanted to, he could be storming


around the world saying, we need to do something about this. There is


not much leadership here, and I am not a great fan of Gordon Brown,


but the one thing he did was get people together to make a decision


right now, and we need that more than ever. But Cameron and George


Osborne, not at all. Thank you so much for being with us here on the


Politics Show. Still to come on the programme,


unless you're watching in Scotland, why the Government's plan to take


away child benefit from high earners could spell trouble on the


backbenches. But first, the Politics Show where you are.


Hello from the London part of the Politics Show, where we are looking


at two issues, not necessarily related. Why the Government is


giving more priority to ex-military who want council houses.


But before that, it is the hope of City Hall that the streets will not


be too scarred by the sight of homeless sleepers on the streets.


Are there any new solutions out there?


20 years ago, Cardboard City was perhaps London's most embarrassing


landmark. These days, rough sleeping is much less common, but


the mayor has promised that by the end of next year, it will be a


thing of the past. The first thing is, nobody should live on the


streets and in the 21st century, it is a scandal that some call the


street their home. The second thing is, no matter what a preventative


work you do, some will end up on the street. But they should only


spend every second night on the street. Throughout the day, the


street rescue team have been given a list of people sleeping rough,


either by those working in charities or members of the public.


We are walking around Tower Hamlets and we have a list of eight or nine


people who need seeing. We are going to try and find them and take


them to a harbour where they will receive an assessment of their


needs, with the aim of having them within some sort of stable a good


up -- accommodation within 24 hours. How much information are you going


off? We have literally come in and we were told he was in front of the


tube station beneath the scaffolding. -- Tube station.


of the work done is trying to reconnect what sleepers with where


they come from, on the basis that this gives them the best chance of


stable housing. The team find a rough sleeper from Luton but he


does not want their help. The days centre are offering all sorts of


options for him, saying, we could do this for you, that for you,


which is the wrong message, because the reality is, if his local


connection is outside of London, the best option is go to where he


is eligible to get services. It is a better place for him to be off


the street and get services. But he is classically resisting. But if he


does not want to go back to Luton and he has here in London because


he does not want to be there, doesn't it make sense to try and


sort something out for him in London? He has obviously got a GP


and other connections back in Luton. He may well have a family there. I


would say that living on the streets is dangerous and it would


be better to relocate in a planned way. If you want to live in London,


that is fine, but do it in a proper way. A real difficulty comes in


reconnecting people who come from a foreign country. The majority


sleeper on the streets of foreign nationals, and that is a new, very


recent phenomenon. Is the solution to that getting them to go back


home? There are a number of options. If you are a foreign national


sleeping rough, firstly, you need to get into work. Secondly, you


probably need to go back home to be reconnected with home, where there


is help and support to help you rebuild your life. But not


everybody wants to go Room. We arrived at the No Second Night Out


Cup and we met Stephen, who said he had arrived shortly before. I don't


want to go back there where I was. Do you think you will? To see my


family, maybe, but to live, at no. Why is that? Because there is


nothing down there. I was living there on the street. They are


trying to abolish rough sleeping in London? But the way they are going


about it is twisted. They are coming up to people and saying, get


out. People have no way to go. I have been offered a coach ticket to


go anywhere I want. I could get a coach to Spain if I was from there,


because the government in London, rather than me leave London and be


the problem of somebody else, I want to stay here. Rough sleeping


may not be popular with Londoners, but many are simply not excepting


the Mayor of London's help, so it could be difficult to achieve.


We are joined by a John Bird, the founder of Big Issue. And Richard


Blakeway. How are they getting on at City Hall with the rough


sleeping problem? I look at it rather differently, because I saw


what the Blair administration did. I think the real problem is, how do


you actually get homelessness out of people? What has happened over


the past 20 years is, what you have done is you have got the ball out


of damp, wet homelessness into indoor homelessness. There are


still many who are being removed from the streets over the decades


who are in social housing, and they are not reconnected. None of the


problems that caused them to be homeless have been addressed. And


there is a real problem around that. And can complete the understand


rough sleeping, and I was a rough sleeper 50 years ago. It was the


most horrible thing. I commend the mayor, let's move people on. I


would not let people sleep rough. We need to engage with the law. It


is a terrible, terrible thing to do. What about the thing on numbers?


Are the numbers increasing? Everybody is saying that. Big Issue,


if you go to our centres, it is all over London. There is an increase


of people coming to us and stories of people resorting to sofa surfing


and those sorts of things. So we are getting the effects of the


economic downturn. But with vigour to -- with regard to a policy of


changing, we have to do something about our rough sleepers, but it


will be difficult. This is a policy you have to supervise. How do you


think it is going? I think we are making a lot of progress. You can


see real achievement that people are spending less time on the


street, particularly new arrivals. Half of people spend only one night


on the street. And we are also having success in reducing the


number of long-term rough sleepers. We identified a car what of 205


people who have spent at least five years sleeping rough, some of whom


have spent 40 years sleeping rough, and that number has been reduced by


three quarters. So we are having real success. With the amount of


time people are spending, do you recognise that? Yes. You cannot


live through 1991 and see thousands of people sleeping rough and not


breathe a sigh of relief and best yourself, because we are now in


small figures. But I still think we are having a real problem with our


home as provision in London. It is not necessarily about getting


people are out of homelessness. The exit strategy is still really in


crisis. We are having people in warehouses and that is where the


men needs to be working. You say we need to move them on. Where?


men need to be getting tough with the national government. -- the


mayor needs to be getting tough. You need to deal with the mental


health and social problems, because that young lad does not want to go


back to Kent. I know why. Because Kent is full of all the problems


that have made him home as. Richard Blakeway, you suggest one of the


best options is for people to go home, go back. But John says,


people do not want to. Detention that you want to get them away from


London because it is not a good place for them, that is not working.


It is not a good place to sleep rough anywhere in the country. The


vast majority of people are being reconnected in London, but clearly,


if they are not from London and not entitled to local services, the


right thing to do is get them reconnected to where they can


actually get services. What happens to those who do not want to go


back? You have got to help them access services, and it is an


important point... Match in London or? -- back in London or... Well,


possibly housing where they are entitled to it through their local


authority. The critical point John is making, and I agree with it, is


that just because you were sleeping rough does not mean you are


homeless. There is a big issue around health and one thing the


mayor has been doing, because we have got �34 million from the


Government to tackle this issue, is to put some of that money to help


with health services. It was 8 million? 8 million. They have just


transferred it and made you responsible? It is a tiny bit,


isn't it? There is about a million a year extra, and also we have been


able to work with services to change the focus of some of them,


so they do a job which is more important. We have been able to


tackle some of the things like mental-health and drug and alcohol


addiction as well, so people can rebuild their lives. It is not just


about housing. Do you think there is always a political imperative to


do something about this with something like the Olympics coming?


Yes. If I were the mayor, I would want people to come to London and


have a good experience, and people sleeping in doors is not a good


experience. But this is not a cynical act. It is a long-term act


about how we make homeless energy, the energy of the homeless sector,


work properly. We need a proper audit and we need to be knowing


what is out there in London. What works and what doesn't. And that, I


think the mayor need to put at the top of the list. We need to know


who is there, who can help, who can tackle the middle health problems


that 70% of people have. When we talk about the people we are


thinking about, are there still a lot of ex-service personnel who,


after being discharged from the Armed Forces, cannot put their


lives together? There were. 70% of the people who helped restart Big


Issue had made service background. There are places for people to go,


but the real problem is that those people who are stuck need to be


moved out of homelessness. I keep being repetitious. Move them out of


homelessness, do not wear house them. They re briefly, will rough


sleepers be off the Street of the capital by 2012? We have got every


chance of reaching our goal by 2012. Nobody should call the street their


home in the 21st century. Thank you so much.


Ex-servicemen and women are many of those who end up on the street.


Should they be given special treatment in terms of housing? In


fact, councils can give them priority now, but not many do. We


have learned the Government will soon give authorities more guidance,


as they put it, on how they can push servicemen and women up the


queue. But it could change by not very much.


The men and women in the Armed Forces adjusting back to live in


London can find it difficult, especially when it comes to housing.


But this week, the Housing Minister confirmed that Government was


drawing up plans to help. We will send out fresh guidance to councils


to simply say, if you have people returning from the military --


returning from the military who need housing in your area, they


have to be properly prioritised. A problem in the past has been that


people sometimes say, we have been a wear for a long time and the


council is telling us we do not have a connection. That is not


acceptable. We will remove that and I will ask councils to prioritise


people in the military, because of course they have been a wear, and


Councils also have discretionary powers that allow them to


prioritise people such as ex- service families. We asked all


councils in London if they give priority to the armed forces are


veterans and their housing waiting lists or housing allocations. Of


the 28 that got back to us, seven said they did. 21 confirmed that


they did not, and of those, a living said they were considering


reviewing this policy. Not everyone signs up to moving the ex-military


up the queue. Getting additional priority does not mean you are more


likely to get a home because there is not enough around at the moment


because successive governments have not built any homes. This could all


be solved if we build more affordable housing. One solution,


perhaps, last month the mayor of Newham wrote to the Queen on behalf


of the five Olympic boroughs asking for her support in putting and


families at the top of the list for the athletes' housing after the


2012 games. But with such a short following housing and with many


disadvantaged groups jockeying for position and the housing list, will


the situation be made any easier if ex-service families are giving up -


- are given a better starting point on the list?


Joining me now is Richard Cornelius from Barnet council and Lynda


Stevens from Haig Homes, who deals with ex servicemen.


How does it working Barnett? We had the opportunity to rearrange our


housing policy so it reflected what we wanted to do and to help people


we needed to help. We have got rid of our housing less so we're


dealing with people live. Ex- servicemen, we're helping them


before we help others. How does it work, who are they below? You have


statutory responsibilities? Exactly. If someone has been beaten up in


their home, they take priority, but right at the top, ex-servicemen


take priority. Do they have to have had a local connection with the


area? They have to have had gained the borough for six months before


they enlisted. So very much local people who have a history of being


local before the spent time in the military? Yes, because with the


housing stock we have got we cannot have the whole force coming to us.


Should local authorities have to do this? I believe they should. It is


guidance issued by the Government, not a statutory requirement that


they should prioritise the military people. The military person has, I


would describe as real disadvantages, they are not in one


place while they are serving, there moved around the country. They will


build up connections and a number of places. They are not used to


challenging, and if they are going into the local authorities and


seeking help with housing, local authorities run almost a tree I


system in dealing with homelessness applications. When the officer says


to the service person, no, that is an authority figure speaking to


them. Do you have any expectation at all that this will be statutory


guidance, that this will persuade 20 authorities in London to do


something different to? I do not think they will unless they really


want to. The only reason they might not is because there is a limit to


housing. We have heard a representative of Shelters saying


that we do not want to get involved in whose needs are greatest, but


there is a lot of need in London? Of course there is. People coming


out of the military are often looking for short-term solutions.


When they leave the services there are leaving their homes, their


families, their jobs. Should this be something that the armed forces


are doing rather than adding this burden to local authorities?


armed forces have cared for them when they have been serving. They


do provide a tremendous amount of advice and guidance for the service


lever. They cannot keep people in the military quarter to be fair to


them. Someone will say, why do you let the military jump-off your cue,


a lot of people need that housing? Exactly, but it is important that


we help these people back into society and into work. It is


important that we help these people improve their lifestyle. You must


have a lot of people that want to do that in Barnet? In what respect?


A lot of people want integrated housing. Exactly, but the waiting


list that we had was not functioning, aged just brought


names, it was not a real thing, whereas now we are dealing with


demand live. A lot of people will not understand that because you


move around everywhere, people do not want to go back to where they


were born, they want to settle where there are job opportunities?


Many of them have families, their children are in local schools,


their partners Arran local work, and that is their base and where


they want to remain. It is not ticks -- it is not unexpected for


any one of us to want to build that life. When a person is based in any


area, they are actually building the their local connection there.


Thank you very much. That is all we You may remember when Gordon Brown


was Prime Minister he caused himself and his party quite a


headache by his decision to scrap the 10 pence tax rate. So could


David Cameron and George Osborne face their own 10 pence tax moment


over plans to take away child benefit from higher rate tax-


payers? Some on the Tory backbenches think so. Here's Giles


Dilnot. And there's shoes for Betty and a


suit for George. I'm not made of money. Family Allowance, which


became Child Benefit in 1977, was a post-war welfare benefit paid to


all, regardless of wealth. Wait a minute. I have just read a piece


about family allowances. We can get ten shillings a week for our three.


We would never get that. Oh, yes, you will. Imagine what they would


have made of today's figures of �20.30 a week for the eldest and


�13.40 for each additional child. That's what the Bennett family from


Guildford, dad Daniel and mum Andrea, get for their children


Ollie, Daisy and Lucy. �188 every four weeks. A total of �2,444 a


year. But supporting nearly 8 million of the nation's children,


however wealthy their parents, however wealthy their parents,


costs the state about �12 billion a year. A fact which gave a cash-


strapped new Chancellor a 2.4 billion savings opportunity last


billion savings opportunity last year. We have got to be tough but


fair, and that is why we will withdraw child benefit from


households with a higher rate tax payer. When the debts left by


Labour threaten our economy, when our welfare costs are out of


It wasn't long before Daniel, a sales director at a small printing


firm, who had already taken two voluntary pay cuts for the good of


the firm, noticed as sole breadwinner, on 48,000, he was well


over the 42,475 higher rate tax threshold. In January 2013, their


child benefit would be gone and he asked himself what that would mean.


I was sitting doing some monthly calculations, literally on the back


of an envelope. I worked out that what was going out of the bank


account each month did not add up to the same amount as the salary.


Had I known that this was what they were going to do before I voted, I


wouldn't have voted Conservative. That's just the sort of comment


that's had backbench Conservatives also doing the number crunching.


Despite the plus of being in favour of the theory, and the savings,


there's still minuses. Just last weekend I had a couple, and see me


who are very cross because they are a single income household and they


will not get child benefit any more, but their income is literally just


over the threshold whereas their next-door neighbours two incomes,


just under the tax rate threshold and they will still get it. My


constituents are saying this is not being fairly applied. At the point


where you start paying higher rate tax you are not in the wealthiest


bracket. I have concerns that we do not dissuade people from taking


that pay rise, from doing that extra are's work, would suddenly


puts them into the higher rate tax band and means they lose all their


child benefit. Families who actually want to stay at home, the


mum wants to look after their children, that is what tided when


my children were little. If you want to stay at home, that is fine,


and if you want to go to work, great. But we need to stay the


party of the family. The government will need to put primary


legislation in place to make the savings they want and they do have


options to tackle these points, particularly the single versus


household income issue, and that "cliff edge". Both of those things


could be addressed by integrating the current system with child tax


credits because they are assessed relative to family income and they


involve a gradual withdrawal of child benefit. One of the things


that the Government could consider in terms of the people on the cliff


edges may be delaying debate on which this happens, giving people a


chance to sort out their finances, giving them another pay rise.


Things may be a bit better. Resolution Foundation, a think-tank


who've been following the Bennetts and others on low to middle incomes,


think 35,000 families maybe in the same boat. People for whom watching


every penny has its cost. We do, from time to time, it is the root


cause of the potential argument. Then it starts to have an effect on


the tone of the whole house, because we are arguing about �10


year, �5 there. I know myself that if I am worrying about money, I


cannot dedicate my attention to the children, because they can pick up


that something is bothering me. It affects the whole mood of the house.


As the Bennetts and others await the government's detailed plans,


there is, one supposes, a small financial bright spot. Some things


cost nothing. And that's it for this week. We'll


leave you now with images of a man who dominated Italian politics for


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