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David Cameron in humiliating U-turn as he deploys Royal Navy flagship to save drowning migrants

David Cameron was forced into a humiliating U-turn as he deployed the Royal Navy’s flagship to save drowning migrants in the Med.<p>HMS Bulwark will be …

Royal Navy

Welfare reform minister: some disabled people ‘not worth’ minimum wage

David Cameron has been forced to disassociate himself from the welfare reform minister Lord Freud after Ed Miliband revealed that he told a fringe meeting at the recent Tory conference that some disabled people are “not worth” the minimum wage.<p>The prime minister said the comments by Freud, who …

UK only G7 country with wider inequality than at turn of century

Britain is the only country in the G7 group of leading economies where inequality has increased this century, according to a report published on Tuesday.<p>The amount of the country’s wealth controlled by the richest 10% increased to 54.1% this year, up from 51.5% in 2000, according to the annual …

Child poverty levels in UK mapped out by new research

One in every two youngsters in the most socially deprived areas live in families struggling below the poverty line, according to new research that maps the extent of financial hardship in the UK.<p>A quarter of all children in the UK live in poverty once housing costs are taken into account, the …

True impact of price rises hidden by official inflation data, says thinktank

Official inflation figures have underestimated the decline in British living standards, according to a thinktank that warns that the poorest people in the UK have been hit hardest by rising prices.<p>The New Economics Foundation (NEF) said the true impact of inflation on the poorest 50% of people in …

Conservatives plan to diminish European court’s authority

The European court of human rights will be prevented from overruling decisions made by British courts under plans set to be announced by the Conservatives this week.<p>The justice secretary, Chris Grayling, said that the Conservatives wanted to scrap the Human Rights Act so that the final decisions in …

After the Scottish referendum – David Cameron's cynical attempt to manipulate the constitution | Will Hutton

The prime minister, promising to address the West Lothian question, is organising the state around the interests of one party to assuage its right wing and Ukip<p>Divided islands, wherever they are in the world – Timor, Cyprus, Ireland, Hispaniola – mostly don't work. Economy, society and democracy …

Plans to cut criminal legal aid in doubt after court ruling

Government plans for cutting criminal legal aid by £220 million have been thrown into confusion after the high court ruled that the Ministry of Justice consultation process was so unfair that it was illegal.<p>The decision is a significant setback for Chris Grayling, the justice secretary, who was in …

An old soldier hits out at Tory austerity as he fights one last battle - to save the welfare state

At 91, Harry Leslie Smith’s ­memories come thick and fast. But his hand still trembles when he speaks of his four-year-old sister Marion dying in …

Local welfare funds: government to reconsider scrapping of £180m grant

The government has promised to reconsider its controversial decision to scrap a £180m-a-year welfare hardship fund used to provide emergency support for some of England's poorest citizens.<p>The U-turn follows ministers' unexpected announcement earlier this year that they would abolish local welfare …

'Endies': Employed with No Disposable Income are struggling in London

If for London the 1980s was the decade of yuppies, now the capital finds itself home to the "endies" – Employed but with No Disposable Income or Savings.<p>Feeling unloved, overworked and ignored, endies are becoming disillusioned with their lot, according to a report from the Centre for London that …

'Cuts forcing English councils to limit social care'

<b>Almost 90% of councils in England no longer offer social care to people whose needs are ranked low to moderate, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass) has said.</b><p>The group is warning cuts are making the care system "unsustainable".<p>The government says councils have been given an …

'Bedroom tax' to be abolished as Coalition is rocked by Lib Dem-Labour alliance

One of the Coalition’s most unpopular and punitive policies is finally on track for abolition, after Labour and the Liberal Democrats united to vote …

Divorce courts hit by delays as warring couples opt to represent themselves

Divorce taking three weeks longer on average than last year as impact of legal aid changes are felt, says law firm<p>Divorce courts are beginning to grind to a halt because of growing numbers of people representing themselves in court because of legal fees, new figures suggest.<p>An average divorce now …

One in five working for low pay – thinktank

The gap between good and poor quality jobs in many of Britain's cities has widened leaving a growing number of people trapped in low wage work, a report warns on Thursday.<p>The Centre for Cities thinktank highlights a polarisation of workforces in many cities as more people are forced into insecure, …

PM could face calls to postpone UK election if Scots vote for independence

David Cameron will face calls to take the unprecedented step in modern peacetime of postponing next year's UK general election by 12 months in the event of a vote for Scottish independence to avoid the prospect of a Labour government that would depend on Scottish MPs.<p>Amid warnings of a …

Calls for greater disclosure on NHS chiefs' meetings with private US health insurer

A handful of consultancy firms and a health insurance giant bidding for NHS contracts have been operating a discreet forum at which they receive regular briefings from senior health service managers charged with ushering in the new era of competition among its providers. The revelation has raised …

Inside the Jobcentre: my experience working for a failing service

I used to work for the Department for Work and Pensions, and before that the Benefits Agency, before that the Employment Service, and yes, before that, the Unemployment Benefit Office (UBO). Oh, and for a short while in the late 70s, the Jobcentre.<p>When I first worked at the Jobcentre in 1979, it …

Now UN sparks fury after launching human rights investigation into Britain's disability benefit reforms

• <b>UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has opened probe</b>• <b><br>Will check if there has been 'grave violations' of rights of disabled people</b></b> …

Almost a million working parents forced to go hungry to pay the rent

Almost a million working parents are forced to go hungry to pay the rent, shock new figures show.<p>More than one in 10 parents with jobs skip meals so …

Housing

Ministry of Justice fined £180,000 for losing sensitive data on prisoners

The Ministry of Justice has been heavily criticised and fined £180,000 by the data watchdog for failing to safeguard sensitive and confidential information about thousands of prisoners.<p>A backup hard drive containing data on 2,935 prisoners went missing at HMP Erlestoke in Wiltshire last May. The …

Thousands of Merseyside parents struggling to afford food during school holidays

Holiday clubs across Merseyside have been forced to feed thousands of hungry children whose families are struggling to make ends meet.<p>The problem has …

Councils in poorest areas suffering biggest budget cuts, Labour says

The poorest areas of England have endured council cuts under the coalition worth 16 times as much per household as the richest areas, research has claims.<p>Hilary Benn, the shadow communities secretary, said his figures showed the government had "failed to apply the basic principle of fairness" when …

Private firms 'are using detained immigrants as cheap labour'

Campaigners have criticised private firms for using immigration detainees as cheap labour inside detention centres after research suggested this saves them millions of pounds. Some detainees said they were being paid as little as £1 an hour to cook and clean.<p>Home Office figures showed that in May …

William Hague claims expenses for organising protest meeting against Tory NHS cuts he voted for

William Hague claimed hundreds of pounds on expenses to fund a protest meeting – to fight his own Government’s NHS reforms.<p>The Cabinet minister was …

'Generation rent' suffers 10% drop in wages under coalition, claims Labour

Employees under the age of 30 have suffered a real-terms drop in weekly wages of around 10% under the coalition, according to an analysis released by Labour.<p>Earnings for 18-to 21-year-olds have dropped by 10.3% since 2010, while 22-to 29-year-olds saw their weekly income fall by 9.4%, research by …

Food poverty: Experts issue malnutrition health warning

<b>More people are suffering from malnutrition as a result of worsening food poverty, experts have warned.</b><p>The Faculty of Public Health said conditions like rickets were becoming more apparent because people could not afford quality food in their diet.<p>It comes after health figures recently revealed a …

Government posts surprise deficit in July after borrowing £239m

The chancellor, George Osborne, faces a battle to hit this year's borrowing target after the government posted a surprise deficit in the public finances in July.<p>Economists had expected a small surplus of £50m in one of the strongest months of the year for tax receipts, but an increase in government …

Self-employment in UK at highest level since records began

Britain's deepest postwar recession has led to record numbers of self-employed people, who are earning lower wages and working longer hours than other workers, a study suggests.<p>Self-employment in the UK is at its highest level since records began almost 40 years ago, according to a report by the …

'Social cleansing' of London's council estates sees Tories plan underground playground for children

A few weeks ago I went to a public meeting at the heart of a sprawling 1950s council estate in central London. The community centre was packed and …