Clegg defends policies at Lib Dem conference

File photo dated 14 September 2013 of Liberal Democrats leader Nick Clegg addressing the Liberal Democrats' autumn conference at The Clyde Auditorium in Glasgow, Scotland. Clegg has played down suggestions of a split with Business Secretary Vince Cable over economic policy. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday September 16, 2013. See PA story LIBDEMS. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
File photo dated 14 September 2013 of Liberal Democrats leader Nick Clegg addressing the Liberal Democrats' autumn conference at The Clyde Auditorium in Glasgow, Scotland. Clegg has played down suggestions of a split with Business Secretary Vince Cable over economic policy. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday September 16, 2013. See PA story LIBDEMS. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
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Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has defended the coalition’s policies and said ordinary Sheffield residents are ‘benefiting’ from changes.

In an interview with The Star at the Liberal Democrat party conference in Glasgow, the Hallam MP said he recognised people were living in difficult times financially.

He also insisted the high political cost of the cuts, losing hundreds of council seats and control of authorities such as Sheffield Council, would be worth it in the long term.

He said: “We recognise most people in Sheffield and up and down the country have made huge sacrifices in the last few years, working longer hours for less pay, and suffering squeezed living standards.

“But it would be a betrayal of those people if the country was to return to the bad old days of one-party Government.

“Labour will ruin the recovery while with the Conservatives, you certainly won’t see a fair recovery.”

Mr Clegg added: “I want to reiterate the benefits for people in Sheffield as a result of having the Liberal Democrats in Government.

“We have achieved a huge change in the tax system, increasing the threshold at which people start paying income tax to £10,000 from next year, which is helping millions of low-paid and middle income earners.

“There has also been the pensions increase and investment in apprenticeships and transport infrastructure, such as guaranteeing funding for the Midland Main Line electrification and the £2 billion Streets Ahead resurfacing project in Sheffield.”

He added: “We are in the early stages of economic recovery and we wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for the resolve of the Liberal Democrats.

“We have fought for a lot of changes to policies and made a difference in the Government’s approach.

“There has been a political cost for our party but the outcome in the long term will be worth it.”

Mr Clegg faces a challenge from his own party members over the ‘bedroom tax’ where council tenants on housing benefit have to pay more rent if they have a spare room.

Grass-roots Lib Dems are set to pass a motion at the conference criticising the policy – branded ‘vindictive’ against the poor by Sheffield council leader Julie Dore.

But there will be no rethink from the Government.

Mr Clegg said: “People without a place to move to will be caught out by the changes and I understand their concerns but there is no obvious solution.

“The principle behind the ending of the spare room subsidy is to free up houses with spare rooms for families who desperately need them.

“Labour are hypocritical to criticise the policy because it is a continuation of what they brought in by ending the spare room subsidy for tenants in private rented accommodation.”