8pm Local government: Councils have an incentive to cut fraud

6pm WATCH:

2.45pm LeftWatch: The Tories must make Francois Hollande the running mate for Ed Miliband in 2015

12.30pm Matthew Oakley on Comment: Why the Government is right to take on welfare reform

11.45am LeftWatch: At least Blair tried to reform welfare. What does Labour believe now?

11am ToryDiary: When it comes to Attack Dogs, Osborne's still a Big Beast

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ToryDiary: Cameron should end the Coalition in September 2014

Michael Dowsett on Comment says Education is an electoral trump card for the compassionate Right

Local Government: Brandon Lewis MP decides Essex is the Council of the Week

The Deep End: Leftwing internationalists are the most self-centred people on the planet

WATCH: George Osborne's "mockney" accent

TelegraphidsThe man who challenged IDS to live on £53 a week lives on £156 a week

"Mr Bennett’s challenge, delivered via John Humphrys, the presenter of the Today programme, was not all it seemed. It later emerged that Mr Bennett, who was back on his market stall selling household goods on Tuesday, receives £232 a month in housing benefit and £200 a month in working tax credit, triple the amount of money he quoted in the challenge to Mr Duncan Smith. His average weekly income, including market stall earnings, is in fact £156 a week." – Daily Telegraph (£)

  • "Mr Duncan Smith hit back at his critics, calling the petition a "complete stunt" in the Wanstead and Woodford Guardian, his local paper. He said the issue of whether he could live on £53 a week "distracts attention from the welfare reforms which are much more important and which I have been working hard to get done". "I have been unemployed twice in my life so I have already done this," he said. "I know what it is like to live on the breadline." Sources said Mr Duncan Smith has never claimed benefits, but he got support from a job centre when he was twice unemployed for a few months at a time." – Daily Telegraph (£)
  • "More than 230,000 people have signed a petition calling on Iain Duncan Smith to live on £53 a week. I have an idea too. Why don’t we get the self-declared defenders of the poor — the bosses of the poverty industry, that whole web of charities and campaigning groups who depend upon the welfare state for their existence — to live on that pitiful sum. They would then enjoy first hand the welfare state that has done such an effective job in keeping the poor poor, and the jobless jobless." – John Bird The Times (£)
  • "For my book Hard Work I rented a council flat (available in a block being renovated) and I took minimum-wage jobs from the jobcentre, when they were plentiful.." Polly Toynbee The Guardian
  • Chingford welfare recipients give their views – The Independent


TimesfraudMPs claim Universal Credit fraud risk

"The government must give a "swift assurance" that the introduction of Universal Credit will not cause a rise in benefit fraud, MPs have said. The Communities and Local Government Committee called it 'extremely concerning' that detection systems were 'still at an early stage'." – BBC

Reaction to George Osborne's welfare speech.

"A supermarket distribution centre in Sittingbourne may not have been the obvious location for a groundbreaking political speech, but it was the perfect staging post for George Osborne to engage in what he described as a “big political fight” over welfare reform on Tuesday. The average worker in the 100-plus audience that turned up to hear the chancellor speak earned just £20,000 a year, while the marginal Kent seat of Sittingbourne and Sheppey turned Tory with spectacular conviction at the last election." FT (£) 

  • "The response from his audience of Morrisons supermarket workers? I hear that they had two main criticisms of his speech. One was that it didn’t mention immigration and what the Government was going to do to restrict it. The other was that they didn’t agree with the cap on total benefits at the level of average earnings. They thought the cap at £26,000 a year was far too high." John Rentoul The Independent
  • "The long-awaited Universal Credit, which promises to improve incentives to work, will help, if it can ever be made to work. But it remains the case that this Government is still not actually cutting the welfare bill, merely slowing its expansion. In an ageing society, this country will not really get control of its growing welfare bill until we all work longer, for lower returns in retirement." Leader The Times (£)


…as Mary Riddell asks "What would Labour do?"…

"Ed Miliband is said to favour more short-term clarity while Ed Balls is for
waiting. The former speaks of redistribution and a living wage, while the
latter talks up tax credits. MPs interviewed on the radio condemn Mr
Osborne’s welfare cuts, yet Labour cannot say that it would reverse even the
iniquitous spare bedroom penalty." – Daily Telegraph (£)

…and John Rentoul says Ed Miliband is not fit to be PM

!I feel that the worst outcome of the next election would be for Labour to win it so ill-prepared." – John Rentoul The Independent

200 civil servants have signed "gagging orders" in the past two years

"Last month the Government banned gagging orders for NHS employees after it emerged that more than £18 million had been spent on silencing 600 staff. However, the use of similar orders is widespread for departing employees across both local authorities and Whitehall, leading to accusations that ministers are being “hypocritical”. In Whitehall, more than 200 civil servants and officials have signed compromise agreements in the past two years, at a total cost of £14 million.- Daily Telegraph (£)  

JohnbaronPass the law for in/out EU referendum now Cameron told

"Mr Cameron promised in a major speech in January that an “in-out” poll on Britain’s future EU membership would take place in 2017 — if he is re-elected. However, in the latest sign that political goodwill from the speech is ebbing away, more than 100 Tory backbenchers yesterday urged him to go further by underpinning his commitment with legislation. In a “strongly worded” letter, they said that new laws were needed by 2015 to pave the way for a referendum. John Baron, the MP for Basildon and Billericay, who delivered the letter, said that the Prime Minister needed to use legislation to cement the pledge because of “public mistrust”." – The Times (£)

  • "Dozens of backbenchers have written to the Prime Minister urging him to pass laws before the end of this parliament that promise a poll by 2017. Last night, Downing Street sources ruled out any new laws before the election, as it would be unlikely to gain any backing from the Liberal Democrats or Labour. However, many Tories argues that legislation is the best way of making the party "believable" when it campaigns on the issue in the run-up to 2015. They say it would also differentiate the Conservative Party from its rivals." – Daily Telegraph (£)

> Today: ToryDiary – Cameron should end the Coalition in September 2014

GhowarhConservative Way Forward chairman Sir Gerald Howarth will fight defence cuts

"Sir Gerald Howarth MP, who was minister for international security strategy in the Ministry of Defence until last September, is the new chairman of Conservative Way Forward, described by Mr Cameron as the largest and most effective pressure group within the Tory party. In his first public comments, Sir Gerald said he would be campaigning hard on defence and making sure that “we fund and support our Armed Forces properly”. – Daily Telegraph (£) 

>Yesterday: MPsETC: Three campaigns are promised by Sir Gerald Howarth, the new Chairman of Conservative Way Forward. Take note, Number Ten

TyrieThe most powerful backbencher is…Andrew Tyrie

"Since the 2010 election Andrew Tyrie has emerged as surely the most active and powerful backbencher in the House of Commons. This week the parliamentary Banking Commission which he chairs, sometimes with a lethal waspishness, will publish a potentially devastating report on the near collapse of HBOS and the Financial Services Authority’s failure to see it coming." – The Independent

Minimum wage will not be cut

"Number 10 insisted the wage will not be cut, but could not give assurances on whether it will be frozen. One source said: “We are not going to cut the minimum wage.” The Prime Minister’s deputy official spokesman added: “We need to make sure it works and it continues to support people." – Daily Telegraph (£) 

>Yesterday:  ToryDiary: Is the Government gearing up for action on the minimum wage?

Low paid workers to be told to boost hours

"A new frontier of the battle over the welfare state is being opened up as employment ministers look for ways to target the working poor by asking 1 million in-work recipients of tax credits to do more to boost their earnings. Under the proposals, jobcentre staff will have powers to withdraw universal credit if claimants are deemed to be doing too little to increase their earnings. Ministers are considering more frequent interviews at jobcentres, and even requiring people to move to different jobs to reduce the size of the benefit bill." – The Guardian

HancockHancock announces tougher regime for FE colleges

"Underperforming further education colleges in England are to face a tougher regime, as the government launches its skills strategy. There will be an "administered college" status which will place restrictions on spending and staff. Skills minister Matthew Hancock promised "swift and effective action" where colleges were inadequate." – BBC

Theresa May to speed up visas for Chinese applicants

"Theresa May has pledged to improve the visa system offered to Chinese nationals wishing to visit or to do business in Britain. In a private presentation to the cabinet last week, the Home Secretary said that Chinese applicants would be offered a “faster service” and that she would help foster a more positive image for those wishing to do business in this country." – Daily Telegraph (£)

RohanRohan Silva leaves Downing Street

"After the latest in a series of senior policy advisers decided to leave No 10, ConservativeHome blogger Paul Goodman wrote: "More senior staff have been going from Downing Street than coming. This says something either about the coalition's ability to retain them, or about their view of the likely general election result in 2015, or both. "Silva … is an eloquent believer in public service reform. A true radical is leaving the building – perhaps one of the last." – The Guardian

> Yesterday: ToryDiary: Hilton.
O’Shaughnessy. Peter Campbell. Tim Chatwin. All gone from Number 10.
And now Rohan Silva is to leave. What does his move say about the mood
in Downing Street?

MailwelfareAnger at welfare subsidies for killer Michael Philpott

"He treated his 17 sons and daughters like cash cows – generating a staggering benefits income of £60,000 a year. Yesterday, Mick Philpott remained shameless to the last. The drug-taking layabout, who embodies everything that is wrong with the welfare state, was still smiling even after being convicted of killing six of his children." – Daily Mail

  • "It's hard to imagine a more repulsive creature than Mick Philpott, the lowlife benefits scrounger convicted of killing six of his children in a fire. And who paid for his disgusting lifestyle? We did. Philpott may be the dregs of humanity. But the welfare system helped him every step of the way. Thousands a month in handouts flowed into the council home he shared with wife Mairead — also convicted of the killings — and mistress Lisa Willis. The more children he produced, the richer the State made him." – The Sun Says
  • "His family – if that word can properly be used of the chaotic household over which he presided – was at the time receiving £26,500 a year in benefits and Philpott hit the headlines after demanding a
    bigger home. Decent people seek to climb the housing ladder through hard work and saving, but Philpott’s method consisted of producing more and more offspring that he had no intention of ever providing for and then lobbying his local authority." – Leader Daily Express

McveyChanges to make the welfare state fair says Esther McVey

"The last government saw the cost of welfare spiral during a time of economic growth. It is low-earning taxpayers who have had to meet this enormous cost. The ministers of that government tinkered around the edges of the benefits system and retreated from radical thinking when the going got tough. Our message is clear: reform should be about restoring fairness to claimants by making work pay, and fairness to the taxpayer by making sure their money is used to transform lives." – Esther McVey The Guardian

As Lord Hall becoomes DG the Daily Mail challenges the BBC over bias

"It seems that the BBC sees every modest attempt to trim public spending, such as Iain Duncan Smith's welfare reforms as a wanton act of cruelty…Only yesterday, even the decision to withdraw legal aid for divorce cases was portrayed as a sadistic assault on the vulnerable." Leader Daily Mail

LittlewoodToll plan for M4 relief road –

  • "A toll here and there to pay for this or other bit of tarmac is not enough. We need a radical change to the way our road network is funded, maintained and expanded. We should scrap Vehicle Excise Duty and reduce fuel duty by 75 per cent, and charge instead for the actual use of the roads rather than for the mere privilege of owning a vehicle and filling it with fuel. Nobody delights in suddenly being charged for something that they have been used to receiving free, but the current system only results in traffic jams and taxation." – Mark Littlewood The Times (£)

Ann Widdecombe welcomes appointment of John Hayes to Downing Street

"Mr Hayes is an old-fashioned Conservative in touch with the party’s grass roots and its increasingly rebellious backbench MPs. I trust him to offer sensible, constructive and sharp advice but none of that will be any good unless the Prime Minister actually listens and takes it seriously. Here’s hoping." Ann Widdecombe Daily Express

NUT demand 20 hour week for teachers – The Guardian

Cllr Jeff Milburn "likely" to be Tory candidate in South Shields byelection – The Independent

The Scottish Sun will not back Scottish independence – The Independent

Mair doesn't want Paxman's job – BBC

£5 million pay rise for The Queen – BBC

Eurozone unemployment reaches record high – City AM

And finally… Osborne adopts Estuary English

"Speaking to workers at a Morrisons' supermarket distribution centre in Sittingborne, Kent on benefits reforms, he seemed to have lost his characteristic cut-glass Received Pronunciation and replaced it with a
noticeably Estuarine accent. As shadow Chancellor Mr Osborne was mocked in some quarters for possessing a slightly high-pitched accent in which he pronounced each word crisply. Today, he could be heard pronouncing 'British' as 'Briddish', 'want to' as 'wanna' and had "we have had a" as "we've'ad'a" – Daily Telegraph (£)


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