New research suggests the cost of the 2013 welfare reform could reach as high as £1bn per year in Wales.
Questions and concerns about the effect on Wales of Prime Minister's radical ideas for the benefits system.
Save the Children claims that thousands of parents will be forced into debt, or have to work longer hours, because of benefit reforms.
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.
A Welsh Government spokesperson has given us this response to the debate on whether there should be regional rates of benefits:
– WELSH GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON
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.
The Welsh Government spokesman went on to say
– WELSH GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON
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.
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.
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.
Welsh ministers are meeting charities and campaigners to discuss the possible effects the UK Government's Welfare Reform Bill could have in Wales.
Representatives from organisations such as Disability Wales, Shelter Cymru and the Carers Alliance are among those who will be raising their concerns.
It comes after a Welsh Government report claimed that the "negative impact" of the changes would have "a disproportionately higher impact" on Wales than the rest of the UK.
Minister for Skills Leighton Andrews said he was "not opposed to the principle" of welfare reform, but called for "genuine support to individuals to help them find and keep work"
James Pritchard, Head of Wales for Save the Children, says single mothers will bear the brunt of the UK Government's welfare reforms.