Asked whether the PM thought he could live on £53 per week, the PMS said that the PM believed the benefit levels were fair. Welfare reform was ensuring work paid and unemployed people were supported back into work. Benefits were designed to support people back into work and were not for the long term. Asked whether the government was looking at changing the minimum wage level, the PMS said that the Low Pay Commission were looking at the appropriate level and that the Department for Business would respond, but that it was important the the National Minimum Wage worked and supported people.
Questioned about the Balance of Competences Review and Eurozone unemployment, the PMS said that the review had always intended to be a transparent process and the government had invited other EU member states to contribute. The government understood that some other states saw it as a domestic review. On unemployment, the PMS said that Eurozone economies have impacted UK growth and that the UK needed to stay the course as outlined by both the PM and the Chancellor.
Asked whether the PM believed there should be a tolled relief road on the M4 in Newport, the PMS said that good infrastructure was vital for the UK economy, but road tolling in Wales was a devolved matter for the Welsh Assembly. The government had a policy not to toll existing roads in England. Any decisions on future schemes would be made after the spending review.
Asked whether the PM believed civil service terms and conditions were too soft, the PMS said that the PM thought that while the civil service do a good job there was need for reform. It was important that the civil service reduced in size and became more flexible, as well as improving project management and procurement skills. The civil service had already seen pay freezes and reforms to privilege days.
Asked about Scotland’s independence referendum, the PMS said that the PM believed it was important for people in Scotland to lead the debate. It remained the PM’s view that Scotland and the wider UK were better off with Scotland remaining in the UK.