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:
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
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.
Questions and concerns about the effect on Wales of Prime Minister's radical ideas for the benefits system.Read the full story ›
Former soldiers from 1st the Queen's Dragoon Guards will meet MPs in Westminster today, to hand in a petition about the regiment's future. Campaigners fear the regiment will cease to exist due to cuts to the defence budget. The Ministry of Defence says no decisions have yet been taken.