Clegg to outline green firms plan

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was outlining plans to support green businesses as the coalition Government attempts to move on from the row over benefit cuts.

Mr Clegg, who is standing in for David Cameron during the Prime Minister’s holiday, will also take questions from the public at a town hall event in Newcastle on Thursday.

The Liberal Democrat leader will be launching a low carbon business support programme which the Government hopes will lead to the creation of 10,000 new jobs and 1,000 firms.

But Mr Clegg’s week “holding the fort” while the Prime Minister is on holiday in Cornwall has been overshadowed by speculation over the future of the winter fuel payments and child benefits.

The axe could be allowances as part of a cost-cutting programme under a deal to pay for a root-and-branch reform of the welfare system.

According to BBC2’s Newsnight, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith had a “blazing grade-A row” with Chancellor George Osborne over funding for his flagship project.

It has been widely reported that Mr Duncan Smith will have to find net savings of £10 billion in order to go ahead with the estimated £3 billion reforms.

This has focused attention on child benefits and the winter fuel allowance which are seen as soft targets because they are paid to all who qualify, regardless of income.

According to reports, the Government is considering raising the age at which people become eligible for the annual winter fuel handout from 60 to at least 66.

The payment – worth £250, or £400 for the over 80s last winter – could also be cut by £50 for new recipients and £100 for the oldest.

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