IDS and May announce jobless immigrants to be denied Housing Benefit

mailhousing“Jobless immigrants are to be denied housing benefit. Writing in the Mail today, Iain Duncan Smith and Theresa May say Britain’s generous welfare system should no longer be a magnet for citizens of other EU states. The Work and Pensions Secretary and the Home Secretary claim Labour doled out millions of pounds ‘for people to sit on benefits’ while opening the door to mass migration.” – Daily Mail

  • “We introduced rules so that from January 1 this year we are banning individuals from receiving out-of-work benefits until they have been living in the UK for three months. And we will go still further: from the beginning of April we will be removing entitlement to housing benefit altogether for this group. In addition, EU migrants can only claim jobseeker’s allowance for six months unless they have genuine prospects of finding work. No longer can people come here from abroad and expect to get something for nothing. Together, these new immigration and benefit checks will clamp down on those trying to exploit the system. We can ensure that Britain’s growing economy and dynamic jobs market deliver for those who work hard and play by the rules.” – Iain Duncan Smith and Theresa May Daily Mail
  • “Most importantly, Mr Duncan Smith’s reforms have helped instil the work ethic into thousands of families for whom languishing on the dole had been allowed by Labour to become a lifestyle choice. It’s tough love, but it’s working.” – Leader Daily Mail
  • “Accusing Labour of a “shameful betrayal” of British workers, they highlighted figures showing the number of Britons in jobs fell by 413,000 between 2005 and 2010, while the number of working foreigners increased by 736,000.” – The Guardian
  • BBC rejected earlier version of Benefits Street – The Sun(£)

> Yesterday: Is Cameron really set to produce “a new policy to curb immigrants and benefits every week”? – ToryDiary

…while Labour echo need for tougher rules on welfare

independentjobless“The jobless would lose their unemployment benefit under a Labour Government if they failed a “basic skills test” and refused training. In an interview with The Independent, Rachel Reeves, the shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, revealed a “tough love” strategy to stop the unemployed staying on the dole for up to three years before their English, maths and computer skills are assessed. Labour’s test would take place within six weeks of someone claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA).” – The Independent

  • “A Tory spokesman said: ‘Labour are copying a Conservative policy that already exists and that is superior.’ In the autumn statement, George Osborne announced a pilot project to retrain young JSA claimants without Level 2 English and maths from day one of their claim.” – Daily Mail
  • “Ed Miliband wants to shake off Labour’s “welfare party” tag amid public anger at Britain’s “something-for-nothing” culture — highlighted on Channel 4’s Benefits Street. And David Cameron plans to strip handouts from immigrants who do not speak English — one of a raft of moves to get the welfare bill down.” – The Sun(£)
  • “The Government has already introduced new rules forcing young Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants to improve their English and maths. Labour says it will widen that to all claimants. That’s got to be sensible.” – The Sun Says(£)

Today: In a “tough love” auction on welfare only the Tories can win – ToryDiary

Pickles: We will build garden cities where there is consent

PICKLES Eric smiling“Eric Pickles has confirmed that two ‘garden cities’ could be built in the south east in a bid to tackle Britain’s housing crisis. The Communities Secretary insisted that they would not be forced on unwilling new communities, and said local councils had already come forward to express an interest. He insisted his department had not been responsible for drawing up a document, which was reported last week as proposing new settlements at Yalding in Kent and Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire.” – Daily Mail

  • “There is no need to impose a series of new cities on the lush fields of the South East. It is far too early to start a war – and it will be a vicious and protracted war – with the green-wellied Swampies of the Home Counties. Nick Clegg should have a look at the London Plan – which I bet he hasn’t even read – and the further alterations that we have announced this week. He will find a massive 1,000-page vision for addressing the housing shortage. It means accelerating the creation of affordable housing in the capital – on top of the record numbers built in the past six years, under this mayoralty.” – Boris Johnson Daily Telegraph
  • We need greenfield and brownfield sites – Chris Huhne The Guardian

Cameron accused of Chequers guest list cover up

“David Cameron faced claims of a ‘Chequers cover-up’ last night after the Government failed to publish a full list of visitors to his grace-and-favour country residence. Downing Street was accused of exploiting a loophole which means visitors to Chequers funded by the Conservative Party, or the Prime Minister personally, are kept secret.” – Daily Mail

UKIP suspend “gay marriage caused floods” councillor

“UKIP has suspended an Oxfordshire councillor after he blamed recent flooding on the government’s decision to legalise gay marriage. In a letter to his local paper, David Silvester said he had warned the PM the legislation would result in “disaster”. He said David Cameron had acted “arrogantly against the Gospel”. UKIP leader Nigel Farage said he was entitled to his “strong Baptist view of the world”, but had defied a request not to do further media interviews. Mr Farage said: “So we suspended him, quite rightly.”- BBC

Lib Dems split over Lord Rennard

LibDemDead“The dispute within the Liberal Democrats over sexual harassment allegations against Lord Rennard, the party’s former chief executive, is now in danger of spinning out of control as his allies released emails that they claim prove there is a political conspiracy to damage him. Rennard’s case will also be examined on Monday by the Lib Dems’ English regional committee, which will consider complaints that he has brought the party into disrepute by failing to apologise for his actions, and whether to launch an inquiry.” – The Guardian

  • “Lib Dem Euro MP Chris Davies has backed Lord Rennard, likening the episode to the “Salem witch trials”. “It is completely out of proportion, nonsense and outrageous,” he said. But Bridget Harris, one of four party activists who made the allegations, said “whatever the accepted definition of disrepute is, I think that we’ve achieved it”. She has resigned from the party, saying it is in an “absolute mess”. Susan Gaszczak, another of the women who made the original allegations, said she would consider resigning if the whip was restored.” – BBC
  • Lord Rennard could sue if he’s not allowed back – The Sun(£)
  • Why do male politicians have such problems dealing with women? – Yasmin Alibhai Brown The Independent

Involve consumer groups in Government says Miliband

“A future Labour government would involve consumer groups in ensuring there is genuine competition between businesses, Ed Miliband has said. The party leader told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show bodies such as Which? and Citizens’ Advice would help regulators draw up an annual competition audit.” – BBC

  • “A new regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority, is due to take over from the Competition Commission and the Office of Fair Trading in April. Under Labour, consumer groups will work with the new watchdog to make sure ministers act when Brits are being ripped off.” – The Sun(£)

Balls won’t be sacked…before the election

“Ed Miliband has been told to clamp down on Labour in-fighting after he was forced to defend his Shadow Chancellor against anonymous sniping. The Labour leader insisted that Ed Balls was not facing the sack before the election and a senior Labour figure warned that the “real issue” was not the Shadow Chancellor but “the lack of a real plan for the election”.” – The Times(£)

  • “Tory vice-chairman Bob Neill said: “It’s clear Miliband hates Balls but he’s too weak to move him. Every time he praises him he does so through gritted teeth.” – The Sun(£)

Today: Greg Hands MP: It’s three years today of Labour’s deficit-denying, Goodwin-knighting, zero credibility Shadow Chancellor- Comment

Putin’s message on Scottish independence

“Russia has no interest in the Scottish independence debate, according to the country’s president Vladimir Putin. He distanced himself one week after reports suggested the UK Government was seeking Russia as an ally to stop Scotland leaving the union in a referendum this September. The claim was dismissed as ridiculous by Downing Street at the time. Mr Putin told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “It’s not a matter for Russia, it’s a domestic issue for the United Kingdom.” People have the right to self-determination, he said. “But I believe one should not forget that being part of a single, strong state has some advantages and one should not overlook this,” he continued.” – The Scotsman

Obituaries of Lord McAlpine..

mcalpine“Margaret Thatcher’s courtiers were a remarkable lot, and Alistair McAlpine stood out as something special. Mrs T’s Jolly Bagman, they called him. He sometimes seemed as inappropriate as a flashy, fleshy monsignor among the followers of a Nonconformist prophet.” – The Times(£)

  • Maverick Party Treasurer with a love of art, books and antiques – The Guardian
  • Lord McAlpine was larger than life – The Independent

….and Sir Chris Chataway

“Record-breaking athlete who ran with Roger Bannister and began a second career as a Conservative minister and businessman. Chris Chataway belonged to a golden generation of athletes that seemed, for a brief year or two at the start of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, to prove that the British were still a race of world beaters.” – The Times(£)

Paisley’s wrath for unionist successor Robinson

“The Rev Ian Paisley has detonated a political bombshell by accusing Peter Robinson, his long-time deputy and successor as Northern Ireland’s First Minister, of involvement in a plot of depose him. Mr Paisley and his wife Eileen both levelled extraordinarily caustic criticisms against the leaders of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the Free Presbyterian Church, both of which he founded and led for half a century.” – The Independent

News in brief

  • Afghan interpreters fight for right to stay in Britain – The Times(£)
  • House prices hit new record – Daily Mail
  • BBC stars face 25 per cent pay cuts – Daily Telegraph
  • 130 independent schools in child abuse scandal – The Times(£)
  • Labour may release Falkirk vote fixing report – The Times(£)
  • UK losing in high tech race to Ireland and Israel – Allister Heath City AM

And finally…Cameron’s children banned from watching morning TV

“Children should not watch television in the morning or spend too much time playing video games, David Cameron has suggested as he revealed the domestic rules at Number 10. The Prime Minister, who has three children with his wife Samantha, said the couple limit their “screen time” and encourage them to lead “very active” lives…The 47-year-old said Nancy, nine, Elwen, seven and Florence, three, watch nature programmes rather than cartoons, take part in sport and play music.” – Daily Telegraph