09/12/2012 The Wales Report


The current affairs programme features a report on tax breaks and benefits cuts. Could the chancellor's Autumn Statement result in a cold winter for Wales's poorest?

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This week on the Wales Report, another squeeze on benefits, is the


Chancellor's policy having a disproportionate effect in Wales.


New questions about nursing standards, we explore claims that


compassion is in short supply. And the unlikely saga of the badger,


the soap opera, and the Government minister.


It's worth waiting for. Stay with Good evening, welcome once against


to the Wales report. It is our chance to examine the issues that


matter in Wales, tole challenge those in power, and talk to those


affected by the decisions they make. The Autumn Statement will have a


big impact in Wales, that much iser cloo. We can look forward to


greater pressure on public spending. And those on lower incomes,


according to the experts, will be the hardest hit. Most working age


benefit also get a real terms cut, they include jobseeker's allowance,


Employment and Support Allowance, income support, Child Tax Credit,


Working Tax Credit, all of those, nearly 20% of working-age people in


Wales are receiving some form of state pen benefit. The potential


impact is clear. In a moment we will debate the case for and


against the benefits cut. Port Talbot used to be a beacon in


the Welsh economy, literally seen for miles. Nearly 20,000 people


were employed in the steel works. The largest single employer in


Wales. Spending money in local shops and local businesses.


As the global manufacturing economy has changed beyond recognition. So


too has the economy of the area. Well paid jobs have been lost, and


now Neath and Port Talbot has one of the highest claimant rates in


the country. One in four people receive a state welfare benefit.


Including many people in low-paid jobs. For the families in this area,


like many others across Wales, George Osborne's plans to cap


increases on benefits, will have long-term consequences.


Are you ready. Single mum, Diana Jones, is one person already facing


the consequences of changes in the benefits system. Because of the way


that housing benefit will be calculated from next year, she will


have to pay an extra �50 a month. Now on top of, she will have to


deal with the benefit cap. It's actually quite scary to think that


just one person can just not have a thought about the individual and


what we are doing to make changes and difference to our lives. We're


not all just sat on our back sides doing nothing. We are actually


making a difference. I just see it's going to devaste families.


There's no care or thought gone into this at all, we are just a


number. Debt advice centres all over Wales


have never been so busy. In Neath, the Credit Union sees


many more people who are struggling to keep out of debt.


They didn't see much good news this week.


It's just going to squeeze us even more. We're just, you know, food is


more expensive already, and it's getting really hard, everything is


getting really difficult. Organisations like us are going to


become more and more important. Because if the economic growth,


which is protect jected, isn't going to happen which -- projected


isn't going to happen, which we know it isn't, we will be needed by


more people, we have a lot of work to do. Steve is concerned about the


growth of a local business in the area that nobody wants to see.


Unlicensed short-term loan companies offering a quick fix.


you borrow �300, you will finish up paying sometimes as much as �3,000


to get out of their clutches. It is illegal, but it is available.


That's what we worry about. Any cuts in benefits take money out


of the local economy. Less money left over after the essentials,


like rent, food, and heating are taken care of. It means nothing to


spend on the high streets of Port Talbot. One of the business faced


with hard times are estate agents. They now depend on rental, not


sales, and that's getting worse. In the last four years, people have


been unable to get mortgages, due to bad credit, not having jobs, et,


and the rental side has leapt up four or five fold. The new housing


benefit changes out in April will make it more difficult for these


people. To put someone in who has no money, in that position, is


possibly one of the Government's worst decisions.


In Port Talbot, there is a sense felt by many, that people 180 miles


along the M4, don't really understand the day-to-day reality


of the Autumn Statement of 2012. If I had a chance, the opportunity


to meet David Cameron, then I would ask him to walk in my shoes. For a


few weeks, before making the decisions that he's making, about


people's lives. Joining me are the Conservative MP, Jonathan Evans,


and the shadow Labour Secretary of State for Wales. Thank you four


coming in. Are you comfortable with the notion presented by the


Chancellor, which, in effect, says we are a society of shirkers and


strivers and it is as black and white as that? I don't think it was


presenteded in that black and white way. If you look at the record of


the Government, since we were select electeded in 2010 and look


at the film. Bear in mind everyone on welfare benefits, up until this


time, have had those fully in line with inflation. Many people thought


given the inflation figure in the course of the last 12 month, that


was an extraordinary generous gesture. Why stop now? Because well


perbenefits bill is exceeding all the money we take in income tax. We


are having to borrow, we are challenged by the Labour Party


about this, we are having to borrow each year �120 billion from


international markets. What is being said, if everybody else has


to make a contribution, and they have to, we have seen the way in


which spending cuts are affecting the economy, we have seen ways in


which tax is affecting the economy as well, if everybody is being


asked to make a contribution, isn't it fair in those circumstances to


uprate welfare benefits by 1%, for the next three years. So is it fair,


the question of fairness, that is what it is? I think it is fairness


question. Nobody is saying you are a nation of shirkers, it is saying


that everybody must make a contribution. I don't know agree


with Jonathan, I think the Chancellor did present it as black


and white. Strivers versus this fictional figure who lies in bed


all day with the curtains drawn, that we have heard trotted out time


and time again by the Tories. The reality is, the film showed, is


that the vast majority of people in receipt of benefits are working.


These are the people who we saw in Port Talbot, they are on people on


low pay, and for whom working-age benefits are the way in which the


state enables them to make ends meet. 60% of children in poverty in


Wales and across Britain are in working households. That's the


reality. And the other reality, is, unfortunately, that those people at


the bottom end of the income scale, the 30% with the lowest earners in


our country, are the people who proportionate to their amount of


income, are paying the highest price. �5 a week off the average


family, if you like, at the bottom end of the income scale. �8 off the


wealthiest, incomes at the top. That is an enormously different


impact on the lives of those people. I will be asking what Labour


intends to do about it in a second. Just coming back to the fairness


issue, which has been developed there. Lots of people watching will


have a difficulty understanding why some of the lowest paid, why some


of the most vulnerable people in society should be bearing a share


of responsibility for the wider economic picture and the kind of


pressure we are under, why are you asking them to do it? What that


question implies is that the welfare benefits budget must be


completely insulate, no matter what we do elsewhere, in relation to


welfare benefits in our country, we mustn't make changes at all. I


don't think that is something the public accepts. Are you asking


people to accept an unfair burden? If you ask the public, the public


think it is fair that everybody be asked to pay. This isolation.


public say lots of things, they want capital punishment, you don't


give it to them? That is a different debate. What I'm a saying


to you, if you are asking the public, as we are asking the public,


to make sacrifices, it is fair that everybody has to make some


sacrifice. The sacrifice that is being asked to be made in relation


to the welfare benefits budget is really in the circumstances quite


small, I believe, it is a fair, I didn't interrupt you, allow me to


make my point. My point is that everybody has a contribution to


make. It would be wrong to say that those who are on welfare benefits


should make no contribution, for the people at the lowest level in


work, those people have been helped significantly over what the


position was when we came in, in 2010, because of the changes, in


terms of tax personal allowance, many of them, taken out of tax, all


together, that is already happening, when one is looking, as it,were the


statisticians making figures, they did not bear in mind, already, the


fact that for those people, already there has been some aleavation.


have made the case about your notion of the unfairness of it just


now, can I ask you directly, given thaw want to...I Want to come back


on some of the other points. Before I you do that, given the strength


of feeling, do you think Labour will simply vote against these


measures when it comes to a vote in the House? We will need to see what


is in the bill and the spes fisity of the measure, at the moment what


we are contemplating is looking through it piece by piece and


having a detailed response to it. If we decide it is unfair, I hope


we do vote against it. That is an important line in the sand for us


to draw. Do you think it is unfair. You have said that clearly?


absolutely think a lot of the measures implemented here are


having a deeply disproportionate unfair impact on the most


vulnerable in our society. I think the Conservative Party has


deliberately chosen to demonise people who are on income support,


and other forms of benefit. I think Vince Cable, in the newspapers this


morning, is arguing that his coalition colleagues have been


extremely unwise and very unfair to do that. I think it is


fundamentally wrong for the Government to try to balance the


books on the backs of the poorest in our society. Let as pause for a


second. While we are on the theme of been fits and the hardship being


expeer -- benefits and the hardship being experienced by households in


Wales. There is one growth industry. We now have over 20 foodbanks


operating throughout Wales. Charities providing free food for


people, we visited one of the busiest,.


Last year we catered for 50 people in a two-day foot bank. On average


we give one person -- foodbank, on average we give one person seven to


eight kilos. Let's put some of these on the


shelf. It comes in as donations, from church, and schools, we have


just had our harvest collection. I must admit, all the schools in the


area have given. The fod that we are receiving at


the moment is from a national -- food that we are receiving at the


moment is a national food collection from Tescos. A lot of


the food will be redistributed to set up three new distribution


centres in the area. Everybody is struggling, not just those at the


called bottom of the pile. We are all struggling.


The first foodbank in Wales started right here in Abervale in 2008, we


have seen the foodbank increase dramatically both in numbers of the


people visiting the foodbank and also the number of foodbanks in


Wales, that currently total 23. We expect to feed 25,000 people in


crisis throughout Wales during this financial year.


Frontline care professional, such as social workers, health visitors


and welfare officers hold emergency food vouchers for us, which they


can give to people that they see face-to-face in a genuine crisis.


People who have suddenly lost their job, people who have suffered


domestic violence, or people who have entered into a sudden crisis,


such as that they don't have enough money to be able to go to the


supermarket and buy food to sustain their family, and meet the bills


that week. The clients tell us if the


foodbanks weren't here, that 100% of them would have skipped meals,


they wouldn't have eaten, because they don't have food in their


cupboards. I'm in financial at the moment, bankruptcy, because I have


lost my shop. If it weren't for the foodbank, I


wouldn't be here today. I wouldn't be able to have the food to give my


wife and children. There is no jobs about. People are surviving. Trying


to pay the bills, central heating, or starve to death. That's what it


is coming down to. We are expecting foodbanks to continue to increase


in new projects. We are opening a new project every three days at the


moment. We expect that to increase over the next three years, we also


expect the number of clients visiting food banks to continue to


increase as well. What we are keen to do is let people to continue to


support their local foodbank to meet that demand and provide that


food to people, who find themselves in a crisis. Although it is a very


sad thing to see foodbanks grow, and that people need this very


important service, however, it is really good as well to see


communities coming together to help people locally in crisis. We don't


get a choice as to what we put in people's parcels, we have a list


that we work to. We have to work with the donations that we get. I


will say that people do give nice things at this time of year. So,


yes, we can put the Christmas, the odd Christmas pudding in. Or box of


biscuits and things like that. So Santa does visit, but we also


remember that, for us, Christmas a very special time.


Let's start with you, isn't that, David Cameron's Big Society in


action, isn't that exactly what the Prime Minister wants people to do,


which is to reach out and help people? No, unfortunately it is a


sad indictment of where we are in this country, so many food banks,


23 in Wales are required. I have two in my constituency, we were out


gathering food only last weekend, outside Tescos, it is a terrible


tragedy that we need so many foodbanks. What is really awful


about it, I think, is that when you look at the sort of people going to


them, for example, the mine in pond prid, they are not people who --


Pontypridd, they are not people who are couingers and shirkers, people


who have fallen on hard -- scroungers or shirkers, they are


people who have fall on hard times and who have been in secure jobs,


and they are ashamed of having to go to food banks. Do you see them


as a statement of people's willingness to help or an


embarrassment? I'm a strong supporter of foodbanks. Let's make


the point the first one started more than 50 years ago, they


started in Europe in the 1980s. They are not a new concept. I


certainly accept that they have increased, ever since the financial


crisis in 2008. It is not, frankly, since the Conservatives came to


office, the growth in them, we have been able to track ever since 2008.


All of the analysis shows that has been the case. During the Tory era.


OK, they have may have been since 2010. I can tell you as an MEP, I


went along it help our foodbanks whilst I served in the European


Parliament, I left there in 2009, don't put the line that they are a


completely modern phenomenon. They started at the time of the


financial crisis to see this expansion. I think that they are an


excellent thing. You saw on the main person talking there, the


Trussle Trust, they are a Christian charity and the main player in the


scenario. They are basically giving effect to what their Christian


values are, in trying to encourage people, if they are shopping to


come up with something that can help other people. Gentleman, we


are out of time, thank you both for coming in.


Those of you, following Prime Minister's Questions, at


Westminster, will have seen a rather tearful Ann Clwyd, the --


complaining about nursing standards in Wales, and saying her husband


fell victim to a culture of coldness and lack of compassion.


There are increasing complaints about nurses who fail to show care


and compassion. To their pensioners, what factually will the Prime


Minister do about that? honourable lady speaks for the


whole House and the whole country in raising this issue, and I know


how painful it must have been with watch she has witnessed in her own


life with her own family. I am, as she is, a massive fan of our


National Health Service, but we don't do our NHS, or indeed our


nurses any favours if we don't point out there are some very real


problems in parts of our health and care systems. The week -- The week


brought a new training strategy in England, there needed to be less


emphasis on technical expertise, more on compassion and care and


those kinds of skills. The director of the Royal College of Nursing in


Wales is with me now. Thank you for coming in.


What on earth were you thinking when you say Ann Clwyd, who is one


of our most prominent Members of Parliament, in that state, in that


emotional state, asking the question, did that really cause you


a lot of pain? Of course, any time you see any relative who is


grieving the loss of a loved one, that does, it irks something within


you to say, well if things have gone wrong, they need to be


investigated and put right. So, my initial impression was, I hope that


Ann has raised that with the local Health Board, so there is an


investigation. We need to be absolutely clear, as a professional


nurse myself, making sure we have the standards, which are akin to


how we were trained, and want to care for our patient, is the utmost


for us, as individuals. We cannot engage in the nursing profession


without having compassion and care, that is the very reason that we are


nurses. What can give rise to these


situations? Is it to do with attitudes, or is it to do with


something maybe more practical, which is that there are too few


nurses around at certain times of day, to be able to provide the kind


of level of care needed? I think it is important to note where we are


as the royal college. Two years ago I found it necessary, within Wales,


to issue a Time To Care Campaign. I didn't do it on the back of a hunch


that things weren't going right. I did it on the back of the fact that


a big number of our membership in Wales have told us they didn't have


time to care. They didn't have the time to undertake the duties which


they were trained to, it caused them distress. What we don't see,


is the effect that something like this has on the nursing profession


in Wales, and indeed, in the ward or hospital, whereby these


complaints have come from. That will affect those individuals,


believe me, it will affect them. That is understood, does the fact


we are hearing, in this prominent case, being explained to us, does


that mean that the kind of campaign that you launched, is yet to bear


fruit, hasn't had any effect? think it is on going. We have


launched it, we are in it for the long-term. Sadly to say, I'm


concerned about the staffing levels in many of Wales hospitals, at


particular times. When we are looking at our staffing levels in


Wales, based on about 85% bed occupancy, quite a number of our


wards are running at 100%. That doesn't leave time for nurses to do


the issues certainly about preparing a bed space, it is more


than that. It is the time to actually sit down to talk to a


patient. When you are doing an admission, when you are doing their


observations, when you are actually wanting to know with what they need


to rehabilitate, and get them back into the community. That takes time.


If you are running against time, and constantly pressurised. It does


give the impression to patients that you don't have time for them.


A difficult question to end on. There are people, and we have heard


people over the last few years say that they have come across nurses


who are, you know, OK they may be under some pressure, but they seem


to lack something, they seem to lack a willingness to show


compassion, or to be caring. They are cold, in their attitude. How do


you get to a stage where you can encourage people like that out of


the profession, and get people in who maybe have different qualities?


I think when you get complaint of that type of approach, is made


aware to the management staff or indeed to other professional groups,


every single nurse has a duty to report unprofessional practice,


that is why we are registered and regulated professional. I think it


is down to every individual to make sure that when you are observing


care, which is less than what you would expect to be giving or


receiving, then you have a duty of care to report that. Now for


something rather different. And who would have thought that this would


Yes, our very own political soap opera, based on that real soap


opera, last week, the vulnerable institution, featured a discussion


on badgers, and the Welsh Government's attitude towards a


badger cull. What followed was revealing, to say the least, the


office of the First Minister asked for the offending episode not to be


shown again. The broadcasters rejected that appeal. But is there


more to this curious spat than meets the eye.


David Williams has his own personal take.


The economy is flatlining, or worse, more benefit cuts are on the way.


The health system in Wales is unfit for purpose. Our education system


doesn't pass muster, climate change is blamed for devastating floods,


which have left hundreds of people homeless. What are they talking


about in this place? Badgers. Badgers. In television soap operas.


Yes, badgers. You couldn't make it up, well, actually you could, and


they did. The script writers for the popular S4C soap opera "People


of the Valley", in a recent edition, had the temerity to suggest that


the Welsh Government didn't have the backbone to cull badgers. Now


the culling of badgers is an emotive issue in Wales, which has


seen a rise in TB in cattle. Apparently these pesky little


creature, much-loved by Queen munitions, are to blame. Any way, a


fictional character, called Cadno, there is a joke there somewhere,


because that means in Welsh "fox", he put the boot into the Welsh


Government's lack of bottle in failing to put these nocturnal,


black and white earth dwellers, to the sword.


It is at this point we have to remind ourselves that all of this


is the stuff of TV soaps. Even here in the fictional location for the


soap opera, this is the old set, I digress. The point is, that a line


about badgers in the script would hardly cause a ripple in a themable.


Its significance or otherwise for people in other valleys in Wales,


would probably be lost all together. But such audacious script writing


did not escape the eagle eyes of the Welsh Government. And its ever-


watchful media minders. Perched high up in their ivory eerie in


Cardiff bay, they don't miss much, especially if it is at all critical


of their political masters. Those are the people who run Wales, by


the way. Shocked by what their cone-eyed media observers had


discovered, the Welsh Government swung into action. And without any


fear of the consequences, attempted to have the offending repeat


episode of the soap opera hauled off air.


This week, in the political circus ring that is the sen ned chamber,


we found out who had attempt today silence the lambs in cym deri, it


was no less than the First Minister himself. We will await to see the


BBC and Ofcom's response to the issue raised. The First Minister


had seen the offending episode, not only had he seen it, he had read


the script as well. How is it that the First Minister of Wales has


time to watch soap operas, read the script, and edit, otherwise known


as censorship, and run the country. There are producer guideline that


is have to be observed, there was an election on Thursday, on the day


the programme was broadcast, that is an issue that has to be resolved.


I am not aware, I will offer the opportunity to give me example, of


any soap opera, where direct criticism of a Government has been


included in the script of a soap opera, ever in history in the UK.


Give me an example. We all know that the soap opera is popular, it


has English subtitles, but would an episode about badger culling in a


TV soap opera in Wales, threaten a democracy in bliarks in England. No


it wouldn't, and it didn't, all three Labour candidates won


comfortably. And the badgers were safely put back in their Seths,


television sets that is. Thanks goodness that is all over.


Or is it? There is a nasty Rumour doing the rounds, that, in an


upcoming Christmas Special of Gavin and staysy, Smitty is openly


citkaflt Welsh Government's failure to build a relief road around Barry


island. I'm told the Welsh Government is on the case and are


considering pulling the plug on all comedy viewing at Christmas time.


Understandably they are very concerned that there is far too


much hilarity about, when we should be concentrating on the economy,


health, education and building flood defences.


That was the battle of the badgers, that is the last Wales report


before Christmas, we will be back in January, with new stories and


interviews, any suggestions please Get in touch. Thanks for being with


The current affairs programme features a report on tax breaks and benefits cuts. With a bleak economic forecast and a stagnant jobs market, could the chancellor's Autumn Statement result in a cold winter for Wales's poorest?

Plus, do nurses care? The programme speaks to the Royal College of Nurses about compassion on the wards.

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