Welfare reforms under spotlight

Prime Minister David Cameron has called for a debate today on reforming the Welfare system.

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'This is a serious issue that must be addressed'

Conservative MP for Montgomeryshire Glyn Davies has welcomed the debate on the current welfare system, saying there are issues that 'must be addressed'.

He explained: "A lot of people are very concerned because they're working hard, doing the right thing and paying tax.. and then somebody else is just living on benefits and not being prepared to work.

"There is a real issue there we've got to look at, and what David Cameron has done is begin a debate about this."

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood condemns welfare reform proposals

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood says that the party is completely opposed to the introduction of regional benefit rates. She's claiming that it will institutionalise poverty in some areas of Wales.

The UK Government is working hard to create an anti benefits culture. But it makes no sense to cut support to people when there are so few jobs and opportunities available to them. I and my Plaid Cymru colleagues are seeing more and morer people coming to us for help because they have lost their benefits and introducing regional benefit levels will mean that even more people will struggle to cope in Wales. Introducing regional benefit levels would create low pay areas, institutionalise low ambition and punch a hole in the local economy.

– Leanne Wood AM , Leader of Plaid Cymru

She went on to call on the First Minister Carwyn Jones AM to protect the people of Wales from the proposals:

Today the civil service unions have been out on strike against job cuts. The PCS union has pointed out that tax evasion costs the UK £120 billion each year. Tackling this would be a much more effective exercise for the Government, but it seems that they are more interested in persecuting benefit claimants than the tax evaders among the elite.

How will Wales' First Minister make good his promise to protect the people of Wales from cuts to welfare provision? Too many people are already struggling in Wales yet Cameron's latest pronouncements threaten to push them harder.

– Leanne Wood AM , Leader of Plaid Cymru

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'Illogical and short-sighted' - Plaid on Cameron's Housing Benefits proposal

Plaid Cymru's Hywel Williams MP has given his response to the Prime Minister's welfare reform comments:

David Cameron’s plans to cut housing benefits for young people under 25 are illogical and short-sighted.

Most young people getting help with sky high housing costs are actually in work. He says they should 'move back in with their parents'. How will this encourage young people to take work? And what if they have ‘got on their bikes’ and the family home is hundreds of miles away from their place of work?

Equally the Prime Minister’s pet project of regionalized benefits is plain barmy. This would further institutionalise poverty and create employment ghettos in which the existing lack of jobs, prospects and ambition would be intensified rather than addressed.

'A long overdue debate' - Wales Office minister

Wales Office Minister David Jones MP has been defending the Prime Minister's decision to open up debate on the future of the benefits system. Mr Jones said,

He's highlighted concerns that all politicians will recognise. People are becoming increasingly resentful of benefits that seem to penalise hard work and thrift. He's not prescribing but is opening up a long overdue debate. We expect other parties to contribute constructively.

  1. Lynn Courtney

Welsh Government says no to regional rates of benefits

A Welsh Government spokesperson has given us this response to the debate on whether there should be regional rates of benefits:

There appears to be a great deal of confusion surrounding the Prime Minister's proposal. However, should any attempt be made to introduce regional rates of benefits, we will resist such a move.

Wales will be hit disproportionately compared to many other parts of the UK by the welfare reforms already proposed by the UK Government. Any attempt to introduce regional benefits will just make matters worse.

With prices in many areas of Wales being much higher than in other parts of the UK, the imposition of a regional benefit regime would simply compound the problem.

– WELSH GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON

The Welsh Government spokesman went on to say

We have already published evidence showing the case for regional pay is flawed. The case presented by the Treasury for regional pay is full of assertions made without any solid basis in evidence and this does not give us any confidence that the case for regional rates of benefit is built on solid foundations.

– WELSH GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON
  1. Adrian Masters

PM's regional benefits idea 'a discussion point' - Welsh Conservatives

Having floated the idea that benefits claimants in different parts of the UK might receive different rates of payment, David Cameron has put his Conservative colleagues in the Assembly in a difficult position. They've already said they're opposed to a similar proposal for public sector pay rates.

The statement below from a Welsh Conservative spokesman doesn't say explicitly that Andrew RT Davies' group would come against regional benefits, but you don't have to read too much between the lines to guess that they probably will. Here's the statement:

This is a discussion point that Welsh Conservatives would engage with fully in order to make sure Wales’ position is understood.

We are opposed to the idea of regional pay on the basis that it could disadvantage thousands of public sector workers.

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Welsh Liberal Demcorats 'will not support' PM's regional benefits idea

Being in one of the coalition parties hasn't put off Welsh Liberal Democrats from making their opposition to David Cameron's idea of introducing different rates of benefit payments depending on the areas in which you live from A Welsh Liberal Democrat spokesperson said:

David Cameron was airing his views as Leader of the Conservatives and not as Prime Minister of a coalition government. His speech was to urge a debate on ideas which may feature in the next Tory manifesto. This is not coalition policy. Liberal Democrats will not support this.

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