Asked whether the PM thought the economy had rebalanced, the Prime Minister’s spokesperson (PMS) said that the PM agreed with what the Chancellor had said in his speech earlier in the week. The economy was turning a corner and the country needed to stick to the course. In his speech, the Chancellor had referred to data showing the broad based nature of the recovery. The government needed to keep up measures such as High Speed 2 (HS2), which would make an important contribution to reshaping the economic geography of the country.
Spare room subsidy
Asked whether the PM would respond to the United Nations (UN) report on the spare room subsidy, the PMS said that he would not. The PM would make the point that reform of the spare room subsidy was fundamentally about fairness.
Help To Buy
Asked whether the PM had concerns that the Help To Buy scheme would cause a housing bubble, the PMS said that there were two parts to Help To Buy: the shared equity scheme and the mortgage guarantee scheme. The shared equity scheme was linked to the construction of new builds and helped address the issue of housing supply. The mortgage guarantee scheme would be established because first time buyers were not able to get their own home and it was an important issue to address. The government was also delivering on the supply of affordable housing.
Asked about the situation in Syria and progress through UN channels, the PM said that there was a draft UN resolution which the UK, US and France (P3) would continue to discuss. The UN process was such that after the P3 had discussed the draft resolution, it would be taken to the P5. The question at the heart of the issue was whether Russia and the Syrian regime could show that their initiative was credible. Asked whether the PM had discussed control of President Assad’s chemical weapons with President Obama, the PMS said that the PM had. The position had moved forward quicker than expected but it could address the central objective of international action, which was to stop chemical weapons being used against the Syrian population.
Asked about the WW1 centenary and funding for planting poppies, the PMS said that the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) had indicated that support for schemes were under consideration.
Asked whether the PM believed the presentation of HS2 was a problem, the PMS said that the case for HS2 needed to be made with vigour. It was important to underline that leaders of some of the biggest cities in the North and Midlands, as well as national business groups, were strongly supportive of HS2.