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Friday, October 12, 2012

No deal done on welfare cuts

Conservative Ministers were very keen to play tough for the grassroots at this week's Tory Party Conference but the reality is that they still need to get agreement from their Liberal Democrats coalition partners before they can deliver on their rhetioric.

As Mark Pack reports, Nick Clegg has made it clear that no deal has been doe on further cuts to Welfare Benefits:

"Nothing in detail has been agreed on further cuts or savings to, to welfare. The Conservatives, of course, entirely entitled to set out their stall about what we do as a country is we have to tighten our belts further as we, indeed, were at our party conference. My attitude has always been very simple, very straightforward – which is that as we have to make more savings as a country, as we do, you start at the top and work your way down not, not the other way round."

Now the Deputy Leader of the Parliamentary Party, Simon Hughes has spoken out on proposals to scrap housing benefits for the under-25s:

Speaking on the BBC’s Question Time last night – alongside former housing minister Grant Shapps – Simon Hughes, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, said he would not agree to the proposal and nor would party leader Nick Clegg.

He said: "Grant made clear it’s not a done deal across the coalition and I, as proposed and as I’ve heard it, would not agree to it. I’m very clear about that and I’m very clear about it for the sort of reasons that prompt the question.

“I have a mate who works for Centrepoint which is the big charity working with young single people who can’t stay at home and I’ve done a lot of work with him. I asked him for four figures today and he gave me these figures: There are about 385,000 youngsters under 25 claiming housing benefit – 17% are employed – so they use it to top up their employment and if they didn’t have it they probably couldn’t afford to stay where they are living and they would probably have to give up their work. So on that basis, it seems unintelligent. Seven percent are sick or disabled so they’re not going to be able to go to work and half of them have dependent children. Are you really saying that we should be depriving a 23-year-old mum of the money she needs to keep a roof over the head of her two little ones? Lastly, I’m for collecting more money from the people who are very well off in this country.”

He said 1 out of 100 people own about 15% of the wealth in the country with 10% owning half. “Now come on,” he said, “If we want a society where we pay off our debts and cut the money, let’s collect money from those that can afford to pay, not take money from youngsters who are struggling with all the other pressures when they’re trying to bring up kids and survive."

Quizzed about whether Nick Clegg would agree and make this a dividing issue in the coalition and absolutely refuse, Hughes said: “Nick does agree with me.”

Once more we have the Liberal Democrats standing up to the worse excesses of Toryism.
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