The Prime Minister's Spokesperson (PMS) answered questions on the Leveson Inquiry and spare room subsidy.
Asked if there was any news on the Leveson talks the PMS said that progress is being made with the on-going cross party talks and it is possible a meeting with party leaders will be arranged when enough progress has been made.
Asked if the PM would like to see a UK wide deal on Leveson the PMS said the PM’s focus is on the cross party talks that are currently on-going.
Spare room subsidy
Asked if the government should scrap the spare room subsidy bill the PMS said that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has made a written statement and the PM has made the fundamental point on a number of occasions during recent PMQ’s about the need to deal with a housing benefit bill that has gone up 50% in real terms over the last decade and this is why this type of reform is so important.
Asked if there was a danger of a blacklash over spare room subsidy similar to the poll tax the PMS said that the government had explained the exemptions on a number of occasions. The PMS also made the wider point of the importance of the housing benefit reform due to the increase of housing benefit costs in recent years.
Asked if the Liberal Democrats were correct in saying it was pressure from them that resulted in these changes to bedroom subsidy the PMS said there has always been a very clear policy intention around exemptions and today’s statement was guidance on any doubt there may have been on the policy.
Asked if the government sees this as a u-turn or as a clarification the PMS said the government’s intentions have always been very clear around this policy, including right and proper exemptions and today’s statements have provided clarity in case there had been some doubts.