Press briefing: morning 5 August 2013
This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
The Prime Minister's Spokesperson answered questions on Gibraltar, childcare vouchers, zero hours contracts, shale gas and immigration.
Asked about the situation in Gibraltar, the Prime Minister’s Spokesperson (PMS) said that the Prime Minister (PM) had serious concerns about the events on the border. The Spanish had not raised the issue of border crossing levies with the government but there was an ongoing dialogue with Spanish authorities.
Asked about the government’s childcare voucher scheme and stay at home parents, the PMS said that the government hugely valued the contribution of parents who chose to stay at home to look after their children. The government was introducing the tax break for married couples and the single tier pension, which would be beneficial for stay at home parents in particular. The childcare scheme was about dealing with high costs of childcare. The government was looking at how it could best support families where both parents had to go out to work. Asked why low earners would be subsidising high earning families, the PMS said that the government had done a lot of work to bring low earners out of tax. There was also plenty of support available for low income parents; low income families could claim 70% of their childcare costs through working tax credits, around 40% of two-year-olds would be eligible for free nursery places from September 2014 and childcare support was being extended under Universal Credit for the first time to those working fewer than 16 hours per week. The government was looking at a large number of ways to support different families across the country.
Asked whether the PM thought tax avoidance was morally wrong, the PMS said that the PM’s view had not changed.
Zero hours contracts
Asked whether the PM was concerned that zero hour contracts often came with no rights, the PMS said that there needed to be a balance ensuring workers rights were not abused but companies needed to offer jobs and contribute to growth. There were some people who preferred a flexible working pattern, but others who did not. The Business Secretary had said in June that the Dept for Business would be looking into the issue.
Asked about the exploration of shale gas, the PMS said that shale gas represented a potentially exciting resource for Britain, which could contribute to our energy security, growth and jobs. It was important that where exploration took place it should pose no risk to the environment. There should be locally driven planning processes so that local communities were involved in decisions that would impact their areas.
Asked about spot checks on suspected illegal immigrants, the PMS said that an operation had been signed off by the Immigration Minister and similar operations happened on a regular basis. The operations did not involve racial profiling as they were based on intelligence.
Asked whether the PM was supportive of the British automotive industry, the PMS said that the PM was. It was an important part of the economy employing a large number of people.