Millions of low-income households face a rise in their council tax bills costing them up to £600 a year from April under a “poll tax bombshell”, according to new study.
People in low-paid jobs and those on benefits who currently pay little or no council tax will be hit with increased bills within months in three out of four local authorities, it has emerged.
Most councils have decided to reduce the council tax benefit available for residents on low incomes after central government imposed a 10 per cent cut on the total subsidy budget. At present 3.2 million working-age households receive such support.
A surprise promise by David Cameron to rule out further defence cuts unravelled today, with Downing Street forced to admit spending will not rise until after 2016.
Travelling in Algeria, the Prime Minister told reporters military spending would rise in real terms after 2015.
But Defence Secretary Philip Hammond today insisted the promise was only that equipment spending would rise by one per cent a year, but other areas would be cut.
The government risks destabilising the entire school exam system by rushing through plans to replace GCSEs with the Ebacc, a change that may be unnecessary, a committee of MPs has warned in a damning report.
The investigation, by the education select committee, challenges almost every justification the education secretary, Michael Gove, has given for phasing out GCSEs in favour of the new qualification, saying there is particular worry the change could disadvantage less academic pupils.
It calls into question Gove’s wider programme of rapid change, warning of a “lack of overall coherence” in how the government is approaching several key elements of education.
Reforms designed to make childcare less expensive are being delayed by arguments that spilled out in public on Tuesday over how much the government can afford to extend help to middle-class families.
Changes that would allow childminders and nurseries to increase the number of babies and young children in their care if they improve qualifications, and toughen up inspections were confirmed by the early years minister, Elizabeth Truss.
However, there was confusion over a linked announcement about funding to help families pay for childcare, which has now been delayed and which previous reports suggested would replace the current mixture of incentives with a universal tax-break for parents with children aged under five.
Childcare reform plans reveal coalition splits over public spending | Money | The Guardian.
The Liberal Democrat former Cabinet Minister formally entered a plea of not guilty today to the charge of perverting the course of justice.
Mr Huhne, 58, resigned as Energy Secretary last year after the Crown Prosecution Service announced that he had been charged over an allegation that he persuaded his former wife, Vicky Pryce, to take his penalty points for a speeding offence almost a decade ago.
Wearing a charcoal grey suit with a white shirt and a green-and-blue striped tie, Mr Huhne said “not guilty” in a strong and clear voice when he was asked to enter a plea at London’s Southwark Crown Court today.
Chris Huhne to stand trial over speeding points on Monday – Telegraph.
Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, has become embroiled in a row over equal marriage amid claims that he likened it to incest.
The minister, who opposes David Cameron’s plans to grant gay couples the right to marry, denied equating equal marriage with incest after Pink News reported that he had linked the two issues.
Hammond released a statement after Pink News reported that he had made the comments to two students at Royal Holloway, University of London, on Friday.
The website reported that Hammond “told students in Surrey that allowing gay couples to marry would be like sanctioning ‘incest’ … When the students asked why, the MP believed the government should retain a ban on same-sex marriages, he responded by likening the current ban on equal marriage to ‘incest’, where it is illegal for two siblings to enter into wedlock.”
A spokesman for the defence secretary said: “It’s untrue. He didn’t equate equal marriage to incest.”
Philip Hammond accused of likening gay marriage to incest | Politics | The Guardian.
Ministerial consideration of launching a negative advertising campaign to deter Bulgarians and Romanians from coming to work in Britain next year is “bordering on the farcical”, Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Commons home affairs select committee, has said.
Vaz warned that such propaganda tactics had been used in the past and been found to be counterproductive.
The campaign, which would focus on the downsides of British life perhaps by suggesting jobs are scarce and it rains all the time, is one of a range of potential measures to stem immigration to Britain next year when curbs imposed on both country’s citizens living and working in the UK will expire.
“I have asked the
Campaign to deter Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants ‘farcical’ | UK news | guardian.co.uk.