25/11/2012 The Wales Report


25/11/2012

The Education minister reveals his radical plans for reform. And could the government's latest welfare proposals push more of Wales's young and vulnerable on to the streets?


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Transcript


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This week on The Wales Report - the worrying state of our schools. Too

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many are under-performing. We'll be asking the minister what's going

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wrong. No women bishops in England - but is the Church in Wales going

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to take a lead? We talk to the Archbishop. And are some of the

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poorest people in Wales to become victims of benefit changes imposed

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by Westminster? Stay with us for Good evening. Welcome once again to

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the Wales Report, where we explore some of the most important factors

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in Welsh life and talk to some of those making decisions which affect

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life throughout Wales. And we start this week with the state of schools

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in Wales. Too many of them are under-performing. Some of our local

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education authorities are making a real hash of things and the answer

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might be to bring everything under central control. That's the broad

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view of Leighton Andrews, the education minister, the man who's

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not afraid to make bold decisions. He's the one who ordered the re-

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marking of GCSE English papers and he's radically reshaping the world

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of the universities in Wales. But before we get carried away with his

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bold statements, we might just remind ourselves that Labour's been

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in power in Cardiff Bay since 1999, so there have to be some questions

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about the party's stewardship of education since that time. I'll be

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talking to Mr Andrews in a moment, but first, David Williams has been

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hearing from some of those with It is now 18 months since Leighton

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Andrews took over as the Welsh education minister. A new

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headmaster, sweeping all before him, lauded in some circles as the man

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who stopped the rot in education in Wales but, regarded by others as

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abrasive, and riding roughshod over people's sensibilities, in pursuit

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of his aims, both political and personal. Very different

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perceptions, then, of the man in charge of education. But there is a

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consensus among those who detract him and his supporters, and it is

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this - he is widely regarded as one of the most able ministers in the

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Welsh government, a man who knows what he wants and where he is going.

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And I have given local a authorities time and money to get

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their house in order but the evidence is overwhelming that this

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has not happened. I am no longer prepared to wait until 2013. I have

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instructed my officials to scope out a more wide ranging review of

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the delivery of education services. That review could see local

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authorities stripped of responsibility for schools. Clearly,

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the minister had lost patience with colleagues in local government and

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pressed the nuclear button. I am concerned this is more about his

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legacy and the fact he does not want to be yet another Labour

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minister who has failed to deliver substantial improvements in

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education in Wales, joining the other 15 years of failure, and he

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is trying to throw the cards up in the air, to try and achieve

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something. Leighton Andrews is no stranger to controversy. He seems

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to relish his role as catalyst for change, unveiling a 20 point

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improvement plan for Education in 2011. It included the idea of

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councils grouping together into regional consortia of education

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services. But, progress in some areas has been painfully slow, too

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slow for an education minister in a hurry. But, what happens -- lies

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behind this latest controversial review? Is it feel you're on the

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part of local authorities to run schools properly or is it more

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Machiavellian than that, part of some grand plan by the Welsh

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government to centralise power in hands of a few politicians, Kieran

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Cardiff Bay? No, says the minister, it is all about improving education

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standards. Others are more sceptical. Our members are finding

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it very difficult to keep up with the pace of change in education in

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Wales. This review is in danger of putting forward the agenda far more

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quickly when we are not quite sure that there should be changed at the

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moment, but we would prefer their to be time to prove what old

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authorities can do through the regional consortia arrangements.

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The children in whose name and the news interest each review and

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policy announcement is made could be forgiven for feeling a little

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confused, as can their parents. do not want to kill that my

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children are educational guinea pigs at the whim of policy makers.

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What you're saying is that stability is important. Yes,

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stability is key, I think, yes. Stability might be difficult to

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achieve in the current climate. This week, we can expect there is

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also wrecked another review, this time into the exam system for 14-19

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year olds. More changes might be on the way to our schools. That was

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David Williams. I am joined by the education minister, Leighton

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Andrews. Can you reassure people you believe in local democracy and

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accountability? The very much so, we have lots of democracy but

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little accountability. That is borne out by reports from Education

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Inspectorate, which has shown we only have five good local

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authorities at of 15 inspected. Five are adequate, or barely good

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enough, and five are either in need of significant improvement of

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special measures, so there was a lot to be done. Are their common

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problems that you want to identify? There are lots of things leaders of

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local councils have to look at. I want to ask why local councils into

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been so late in schools or relay at all, as we have seen. They very

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rarely use powers and integration when schools start getting into

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trouble. They need to look closely at what they are doing. And when a

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council is found to be in need of special measures, even then, local

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government leaders are reluctant to act. What are your thoughts on

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that? While directors of education who won feeling services staying in

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their jobs? Why don't people act more swiftly and recklessly to sort

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out the school system for the young people in their communities?

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are the education minister - don't you have the powers to intervene?

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Indeed I have. We have put a ministerial intervention Board into

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Pembrokeshire. And we now have an intervention Board in Anglesey as

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well. Illustrating the scale of the problem. It is quite clear that the

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new inspection framework is tougher, is making more demands of local

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authorities. They need now to step up to the mark. They seemed angry

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about the suggestion that this form of local control and accountability

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should be moved and centralised. You seem angry about what you see

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as though you to perform. Whereas the compromise? There is a

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performance issue. This is about their performance as education

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authorities. I have not ruled anything in or out. It is going to

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be a proper review. We look forward to him back from local government,

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from them demonstrating not only that they what local democracy but

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also to improve performance. I am encouraged by the new leadership in

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local authorities since May this year, and they could point to

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applique may Authority, a Labour authority and a Tory authority and

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people are starting to get to grips with the challenges. People are

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starting to get this right, but the pace has got to accelerate. People

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who are jumping to conclusions who say you want to centralise things,

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they are wrong? I would never have invented myself 22 Oct education

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authorities and a country the size of Wales. We have too many

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education authorities. It is very clear some of the smaller ones in

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particular are not operating at the King of capacity that we want, and

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that parents and pupils should expect. Why have you not made the

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rational, valid case for reorganising that number of

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laboratories rather than waiting for a bad performance in one area,

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and using that as a tool, if you like, to going? It is my job to

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driver performance in education throughout the system, and I am

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focused on the poor performance we have seen in too many education

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authorities. There are some things we might like to do quickly. Local

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government reorganisation can take a long time to implement. Parents

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and pupils watching this will be focusing on something rather more

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basic, rather than talking about processes and structures, they will

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think about quality of teaching, resources and facilities, some

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schools do not have good facilities, buildings are crumbling, where, in

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all of this debate is this talk about the nitty gritty? That is

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part of this agenda. If we do not have the right level of support to

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schools you find a situation where schools do not get the support

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needed, and that is at the heart of what we are seeing, but, we are

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investing in new buildings and new technology and I have to say to

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local authorities, as I have said in my statement, I am concerned

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about poor quality of Internet access for schools, and something I

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am working very hard on. When you get your powers, and the powers you

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have to intervene already, are you not tempted just to say, I have got

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the powers in place, why can't I just run the education system

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without this halfway house of local education authorities? We need

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something between the government and the school, and that could be

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local authorities, it could be regional consortia, such as we are

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developing, and it could be regional school boards. If we took

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most of the education responsibilities away from the

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authorities are currently closed fidgeted and ran it on and regional

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basis. We must face up to the fact that performance in education

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service is overall, not good enough. We talk a lot about reviews, and

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people's eyes glaze over when you talk about lots of reviews, because

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they want practical results - when are we going to see them? If I just

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acted, I would be accused of acting like a dictator. We have these

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reviews, in order to get the views of the public. We will be

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publishing an exciting qualification group review this

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week. When you see the performers of Welsh schools, compared to parts

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of the rest of the UK, not to mention abroad, it is not a very

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competent position for you to be in. Standards have been increasing

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throughout the period of devolution. There are 12% more people getting

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A-star grades in A-level, and there are fewer young people leaving

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schools without qualifications, so there have been significant

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improvements during the period of devolution, but we can do better,

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and if we could implement best practice across the wall of Wales,

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then we would be moving very fast in terms of making national

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progress -- the whole of Wales. Thank you Mr Andrews. Education is

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one area where policy stands out in marked contrast to England and the

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week brought another stark illustration when the General Synod

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of the Church of England rejected plans to appoint women bishops. It

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dismayed and angered many - including the outgoing Archbishop

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of Canterbury Rowan Williams - and his successor Justin Welby - not to

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mention many women who felt this was a major setback. Women should

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not be barred from being in the House of Bishops. It is ridiculous

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in today's society to have a boys' club of men who make decisions on

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behalf of the church. It does not Some of the strongest voices in

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favour were within the Church in Wales, which was in the vanguard of

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the campaign to ordain women priests twenty years ago. So will

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the Church in Wales now move independently to appoint women as

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bishops? Joining me is the Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan.

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County are coming in. Pleasure. What is your response to the vote?

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A I was deeply disappointed. I knew would be close but I did think the

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vote would go through. It was a great shock. I understand how they

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feel. In 2008, at the same thing happen to as in Wales where the

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Bill was lost by about five votes in the House of clergy.

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Consequently, we are at this stage were we to need to make sure we

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bring in another bill in order to make it possible for a woman to be

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elected as bishops. Just another thought on the outcome of this vote,

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you have an outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury suffering a setback, an

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incoming archbishop who made his views very plain. They have been

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rejected. Is it not very destabilising for the Church

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itself? Yes, of course, it is very disappointing for both of them.

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People are in favour of bishops, but they do not always listen or

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follow where bishops lead. The Bar is quite high, it is two-thirds in

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each house. I know lots of people have spoken about the fact we

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should change the rules, but you cannot do so in the middle of the

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game. You have to play it and then think about the implications.

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are the signals now, forgive me, which would inured you give

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encouragement to women in Wales are who are looking at his push --

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position in the Church in Wales? Next year the bishops will

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introduce a Bill to the governing body. It will be a simple bill

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talking about accepting the principle of women as bishops. In

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that Bell, we separate any pastoral provisions. This bill will not come

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into force we will say unless and until a second Bill is passed

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making special provisions for you. The idea is to have the principal

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out of the way so that as a church we're saying positively we believe

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women should be allowed in the episcopate. A are using to people

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you hope the Church in Wales will move to a point women bishops

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before the Church of England gets his own opportunity to do so?

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not a competition. That is attractive to you However? We have

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been talking about it for a long time in Wales. It is only right we

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should now, four years after 2008, bring it back. In the hope that

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people accept the privet -- the principle. If that is passed, it

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gives a strong indication to the church and the world that we really

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do believe that women ought to be ordained. Then, all that does is

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make it possible for women to be elected. One such caution, you are

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presenting us with lots of caviar at. -- lots of caution. Why can you

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not say, we end in a position where the Church of Wales presents a

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woman be shipped to the world? Because I have tried that before.

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It is not about what I want as archbishop. I would love to be able

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to say the Church in Wales has elected a woman bishop. It is not

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about what I want but about what is right for the Church. I believe

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that it is right for women to be bishops in the Church of God. I

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hope it will be possible, but we have to go through the processes

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and we have to carry people with us. I hope by doing it in this way we

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might just win over enough people so that they vote. We also have to

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have a two-thirds majority. In that is not delivered in the next fears,

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with people already expressing concern about the strength of the

:18:10.:18:16.

judgment in Wales, where does that leave you? I think in a very sad

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and sorry state. We have seen the reaction of the wider society to

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the church. People do not understand the arguments against

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the ordination of women to the episcopate. It does not make any

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sense to me that if you ordain women as deacons and priests, not

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to allow them to be bishops. We have the same arguments we had when

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we talked about ordaining women to the priesthood. Thank you very much.

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Archbishop, thank you for joining us. If you have any comments on

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these or any other subjects, please get in touch. You can email

:18:50.:18:57.

[email protected] or we're on twitter @thewalesreport.

:18:57.:18:59.

Of all the policies being pursued by the coalition government at

:18:59.:19:02.

Westminster, reform of welfare is proving to be highly controversial,

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with changes to housing benefit heading the list. Experts and

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campaigners claim they will have a brutal impact on some of the most

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vulnerable families and households in Wales, with the to under-25's

:19:12.:19:17.

facing some drastic change. In a moment, we'll be getting the view

:19:17.:19:20.

of a leading Liberal Democrat, who's taking a keen interest in the

:19:20.:19:22.

debate, but first David Williams examines the potential impact of

:19:22.:19:32.
:19:32.:19:35.

the changes. You have to seek work and take work or you will lose your

:19:35.:19:40.

benefit. We are going to look at ending automatic access to housing

:19:40.:19:47.

benefit for people under 25 as well. She shock and disbelief. I cannot

:19:47.:19:50.

believe that any so-called government would put in something

:19:50.:19:55.

that is so targeted at the most vulnerable in our society. Hard-

:19:55.:20:00.

working young people have to live at home while they work and save,

:20:00.:20:05.

so why should it be different for those who do not? We go from the

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situation where we have a well- regarded system with good social

:20:08.:20:12.

support, to a system which is forcing young people onto the

:20:12.:20:22.
:20:22.:20:23.

streets. This boy is 19 years of age and is one of 22,000 young

:20:23.:20:28.

people in Wales on housing benefit. Last year he was thrown out of the

:20:28.:20:32.

family home after a strained relationship with his mother came

:20:32.:20:36.

to a head. He now lives and supported housing in Caerphilly and

:20:36.:20:41.

is looking to move into his own property. He says he would have

:20:41.:20:44.

ended up on the streets and unemployable under the current

:20:44.:20:51.

plans. If I did not have housing benefits, I would be homeless and

:20:51.:20:56.

then I could not get a job because you need an address. It is not a

:20:56.:21:05.

lifestyle choice at all. Sitting around all day doing nothing. The

:21:05.:21:10.

government might think I am lucky but I am not. He is not alone.

:21:10.:21:18.

recent survey by the homeless charity said that 90 % of the young

:21:18.:21:22.

people it helps are afraid of finding themselves homeless. With

:21:22.:21:30.

nowhere to turn, if there housing benefits are scrapped. We work with

:21:30.:21:34.

around 40,000 young people a year and they are reliant on housing

:21:34.:21:40.

benefit to have a roof over their head because they're homeless. Or

:21:40.:21:43.

there threatened with being homeless. If they had safe and

:21:43.:21:48.

secure family homes to live in, that is where they would be. The is

:21:48.:21:55.

change will not just affect single people. Nearly 45 % of under 25s

:21:55.:22:03.

have received housing benefits and her appearance. This couple live in

:22:03.:22:08.

a three-bedroomed house with their two children and received �320 a

:22:08.:22:18.
:22:18.:22:18.

week towards their rent. We as a happy family ex -- we are a happy

:22:18.:22:27.

family! They struggled to make ends meet. I got made redundant. I had

:22:27.:22:35.

to go to job seekers. We're now on the dole and cannot afford anything.

:22:35.:22:40.

We have to rob Peter to give to Paul and then we have to take back

:22:40.:22:47.

off Peter. In the 10 years I have worked, this is the longest I have

:22:47.:22:51.

been out of work minus six months. If they withdraw housing benefit

:22:51.:22:57.

there is nothing we can do but go on the streets. We're talking about

:22:57.:23:01.

young families in. Not just individuals. This will affect them

:23:01.:23:06.

just as much as individuals, without access to housing benefit

:23:06.:23:10.

even when in employment, you need that additional support provided by

:23:10.:23:16.

the state. Government spending has ballooned in the last decade on

:23:16.:23:25.

housing benefits. This is predicted to rise to 25 billion by 2015. Of

:23:25.:23:31.

this almost 2 million -- 2 billion is bent on the under 25. The

:23:31.:23:35.

coalition government says enough is enough. We as people understand we

:23:35.:23:40.

cannot allow the situation to remain as a tizz. The Government is

:23:40.:23:45.

right to look at all aspects of spending. We have well duty to look

:23:45.:23:50.

at welfare budget which has doubled. No proposals have been forthcoming

:23:50.:23:56.

as yet. Protection is in the system for the most vulnerable. I do think

:23:56.:24:00.

we have a responsibility to look at elements of government expenditure

:24:00.:24:05.

which is as significant at �2 billion which is a third of the

:24:05.:24:10.

Welsh NHS budget. The Department of work and pensions insists that

:24:10.:24:14.

under the new proposals the Most Honourable will continue to receive

:24:14.:24:24.
:24:24.:24:25.

help. Experts in the field are not convinced. -- most vulnerable.

:24:25.:24:30.

they would do is force people into a spiral of decline, where it

:24:30.:24:35.

becomes so vulnerable that they can access support. That is not what we

:24:35.:24:39.

want. It is still not clear whether the government will go ahead with

:24:39.:24:45.

these proposals. Things may become clear in the Autumn Statement in

:24:45.:24:49.

two weeks' time. In the meantime, those speaking out for young people

:24:49.:24:54.

on the breadline her pleading with the Westminster Government to think

:24:54.:25:00.

again. The Scothern says, do not worry, current claimants will not

:25:00.:25:08.

be affected. -- his government says. I am delighted that those 4,000

:25:08.:25:16.

will not be affected this year, but they will be affected the next year.

:25:16.:25:22.

We are going to have a floods of of vulnerable people being made

:25:22.:25:29.

vulnerable by this appalling policy decision. With me is Lord German of

:25:29.:25:35.

the Liberal Democrats. A former Deputy First Minister in Cardiff

:25:35.:25:38.

Bay, who's now chair of the Lib Dem parliamentary committee on work and

:25:38.:25:47.

pensions. On the housing benefit chain, where do you stand? In his

:25:47.:25:51.

is not a policy that the Liberal Democrat support. We're trying to

:25:51.:25:56.

find savings again which will have to come into effect at another

:25:56.:26:01.

round of savings already made. It is not a Liberal Democrat policy,

:26:01.:26:05.

it is a Conservative proposal. The Liberal Democrats do not support

:26:05.:26:10.

this proposal because of the hardship it will cause. I am

:26:10.:26:14.

certain Liberal Democrats have made their position clear to the Deputy

:26:14.:26:17.

Prime Minister that a blanket ban of this sort will not work. Think

:26:17.:26:22.

of the sort of people we are trying to encourage back into work. People

:26:22.:26:28.

need to have my ability, the need to go out and find a job. A lot are

:26:28.:26:31.

finding part-time jobs and jobs which do not pay much, but they

:26:31.:26:36.

have to travel for them. You have to help them with housing well

:26:36.:26:41.

they're getting on the job market. You were careful to seek a blanket

:26:41.:26:47.

ban, so at partial ban would be OK? No, I am saying we need to look at

:26:47.:26:53.

the savings in the Budget which covers a whole raft of things.

:26:53.:26:58.

There her to fundamentals about her welfare system, it has to act as a

:26:58.:27:02.

safety net to protect the most vulnerable. Secondly, it has to

:27:02.:27:06.

help people to help themselves - so in this case getting them back to

:27:06.:27:12.

work. We have to find ways which do not affect those two principles and

:27:12.:27:17.

find extra spending cuts somewhere else. Let us give a sense of the

:27:17.:27:21.

work he had been doing in the last year. When you take your opposition

:27:21.:27:25.

to this proposal to the Conservative members of the House

:27:25.:27:29.

of Lords, what did they say? They say we need to find savings and I

:27:30.:27:35.

accept that. The overall picture of our economy is not too bright. The

:27:35.:27:41.

welfare budget is huge. We an already cutting as much as we are

:27:41.:27:45.

cutting, the whole of the welfare budget has been cut from the

:27:45.:27:48.

welfare budget. I understand we have to find more money, but we

:27:48.:27:53.

have to find better solutions than blanket bans. Perhaps we should

:27:53.:27:58.

hold benefits down to a late -- a level of wage increases? The sort

:27:58.:28:04.

of thing which is acceptable, not nice but acceptable. It was saved

:28:04.:28:09.

as much money as we are talking about. It comes to housing benefit

:28:09.:28:14.

change, that is the one people have latched on to, if you have George

:28:14.:28:18.

Osborne and colleagues insisting on this as a proposal that should be

:28:18.:28:23.

enacted, what will he do? We will know more when we get to the Autumn

:28:23.:28:27.

Statement. The debates in the next two weeks are all inside government

:28:27.:28:32.

and about these issues. Is there any way you could back it in any

:28:32.:28:36.

form? I do not think this is a proposal that Liberal Democrats

:28:37.:28:41.

could support. I sense that my colleagues are saying that to me as

:28:41.:28:46.

well. I have a feeling that this is a very big red line which it

:28:46.:28:51.

Liberal Democrats will draw in the sand. Thank you very much. Lord

:28:51.:28:55.

German there. Thanks. Don't forget to get in

:28:55.:28:58.

touch with your thoughts on opinions - and tell us what you'd

:28:58.:29:01.

like to see covered on the programme - email at

:29:01.:29:03.

On the Wales Report tonight - who should run our schools? We speak to the education minister about his radical plans for reform. And could the UK Government's latest welfare proposals push more of Wales's young and vulnerable on to the streets?


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