Cameron faces hostile meeting over bedroom tax

David Cameron will face a difficult meeting later this week as the heads of the UK’s devolved governments meet.

David Cameron will face a difficult meeting later this week as the heads of the UK’s devolved governments meet as part of the Joint Ministerial Council.

From the north, the frosty state of relations between Cameron and Alex Salmond – a result of an ongoing spat about who will debate who as part of the Scottish independence campaign – will intensify with a direct call by the SNP leader for the bedroom tax to be repealed.

Speaking to the press over the weekend, a spokesperson for the first minister explained:

“The bedroom tax is a deeply unfair, deeply unpopular policy, and its full effects are now becoming clear in communities right across Scotland.

“Now that we have the evidence of just how damaging the bedroom tax is, the Tory-led UK government must listen. It is a punitive measure, affecting some of the most vulnerable in our society, and it must be scrapped, something the first minister will make clear to the Prime Minister when they meet this week.”

It also looks likely that the Scottish government will raise concerns over a €200 million (£170m) EU fund which has been awarded to the UK to help youth employment.

The five UK regions with higher levels of youth unemployment have been awarded some of the money, including the south-west of Scotland. However the Scotsman has reported that “SNP sources claim Westminster is planning to take 10 per cent of the sum earmarked for the Glasgow area to spend on other projects”.

Concluding that the Tories are now penalising young people, the Scottish minister for youth employment Angela Constance, who will accompany Alex Salmond to the joint committee meeting, has argued:

“The Tories appear to be about to top-slice 10 per cent of the EU cash and use it to fund their own welfare-to-work programmes. They want to spend money intended to help young people and use it instead to penalise young people.”

Accusing the SNP of using welfare as a stick to bang the drum beat of independence, the Scottish Conservative’s welfare spokesperson Alex Johnstone declared:

“The SNP has cynically used changes to welfare and benefits as arguments for separation but have refused to lay out what kind of welfare system there would be under independence and how it would be funded.

“For Alex Salmond to try and make this a head-to-head issue with him and the Prime Minister is just another diversionary tactic to get away from the fact that he and his party are all over the place on welfare.”

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister will face sharp questioning from Welsh first minister Carwyn Jones over the UK government dragging it’s heals on passing the Welsh government and assembly borrowing powers, as recommended by the Silk Commission into the future of Welsh Devolution.

Speaking to BBC Radio Wales’ Sunday Supplement programme, the first minister warned that without borrowing powers improvements to the M4, previously called for by the chancellor, could not happen. He continued:

“It’d be far better for everybody if they were simply to say – yes we’ll accept the Silk recommendations, we can all move on.

“I can then say to people in Scotland – this is an example of devolution working and why independence isn’t needed. At the moment from a Scottish perspective, all they can see is devolution being blocked by UK government in London.”

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