Osborne raids BBC to pay welfare bill…

OSBORNE scissors“George Osborne has launched a £650m budget raid on the BBC to help cover Britain’s benefits bill, forcing the corporation to meet the cost of free television licences for the over-75s. Senior government sources say a deal is close that will force the BBC to take on the cost of the 4.5m licences — worth £145.50 each — from the Department for Work and ­Pensions (DWP). The move is part of a package of £12bn of promised welfare cuts, at least £8bn of which will be unveiled in the budget on Wednesday” – Sunday Times (£)

…stops council house subsidies for the middle classes…

“Chancellor George Osborne is planning to use Wednesday’s Budget to axe the perk of subsidised council homes for the middle classes, as part of a package of measures to slash the welfare bill by £12 billion. The move will see more than 340,000 people who earn over £30,000 a year losing their right to enjoy subsidised rents in housing association or local authority properties, which is currently worth an average of £3,500 per household. The reform will save £250 million a year – but, critically, it will also give political ‘cover’ to the Chancellor” – Mail on Sunday

…and prepares Conservative MPs for a tough Budget

“Osborne is preparing Tory MPs for the backlash to his decisions. Ten days ago he held a lunch in Number 11 for 70 MPs in marginal seats. He urged them to stick with him when it gets rough, pointing out that taking child benefit away from higher earners was hugely controversial in 2010 but accepted by the time of the Election. ‘Everyone’s ready for a tough Budget,’ says one of those tasked with keeping the leadership and Tory MPs on the same page. ‘We’ve got to do it and better now than in 2018 or 2019’” – James Forsyth, Mail on Sunday

Former Cameron aide calls for employers to be forced to pay living wage

SILVA Rohan“George Osborne will come under new pressure to tackle the scourge of low pay, as a former senior adviser to David Cameron calls for all employers to be forced to pay the living wage as a way to combat poverty and boost the economy… writing in the Observer, Rohan Silva, who worked with Cameron at No 10 from 2010-13, says the time has come to tell all employers to pay the living wage – an hourly rate well above the minimum wage” – Observer

  • A living wage is not just the fair thing to do, it’s good for business – Rohan Silva, Observer

Heathrow row tests Cameron’s leadership

“This weekend some in the Tory party were saying that Cameron’s decision on Heathrow will prove a bigger test of his leadership than his attempts to renegotiate UK membership of the EU… ‘They are in a hideous position,’ said one senior Tory. ‘Osborne is strongly in favour of Heathrow but their only real candidate for mayor is violently anti.’ A former Tory minister added: ‘There is no way that Cameron can duck the decision again. He has to back Davies or he will look pathetic. But Zac Goldsmith will just demonstrate how divided the party is” – Observer


Tory Diary: How Cameron went for Heathrow and kept Jowell out of London’s Mayoralty

Davis: excessive surveillance is undermining justice

David Davis“It is rare for the Investigatory Powers Tribunal to find against the security services. Despite being set up in 2000 and hearing hundreds of complaints, it upheld one for the first time in February. So it was highly significant when it found against GCHQ again two weeks ago… There is a serious problem with the accountability of the security services to parliament if they won’t even state under which statute they are authorised to act” – David Davis MP, Sunday Times (£)

  • Theresa May backs down in college “hate preachers” row – Observer
  • We have to vet the net – Max Hastings, Sunday Times (£)

Cameron announces Tunisia memorial

“A permanent memorial will be built in the UK dedicated to the 30 British victims of last week’s terrorist attack in Tunisia, David Cameron has announced. A special service of remembrance will also be held for those caught up in the atrocity in the autumn, the Prime Minister said. Plans are also under way to create a separate national memorial for all Britons killed in terrorist attacks overseas” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Killer’s mother expresses incredulity: “He wouldn’t kill a mouse” – Sunday Times (£)
  • UK schoolgirl jihadi celebrates the massacre in Tunisia – Mail on Sunday

German finance minister promotes Greek “No” vote

Greece flag greek“Having previously insisted that a No vote on the lenders’ last terms would see their country forced out of the euro, Schäuble told the Bild newspaper that the choice before them on Sunday was between holding on to the euro and being ‘temporarily without it’… What effect Schäuble’s last-minute intervention may have on the vote is impossible to gauge. But it appears to favour the No camp” – Observer

  • EU warns of Armageddon if Greek voters reject terms – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Sunday Telegraph
  • Referendum exposes EU’s lack of legitimacy – Rupert Cornwall, Independent on Sunday
  • Greece has become a battleground for the worst ideas of the 20th century – Janet Daley, Sunday Telegraph

Lib Dem accuses Gove of ignoring children’s mental health

“A former health minister has claimed Michael Gove quietly downgraded the importance of mental health in schools during his time at the Department for Education amid an explosion in the number of young people falling ill. Paul Burstow, care services minister in the coalition, suggests in an article online for the Observer that ‘Gove’s education ministry was just not interested in mental health and wellbeing’, despite the long-term costs to pupils and the exchequer”- Observer

  • Children’s mental health must be cared for. Or the conseqences will be dire – Paul Burstow, Observer


Bragg accuses Miliband of wrecking Labour

Pinning Down Miliband“The Labour peer Lord Bragg has accused Ed Miliband of placing the party ‘in a disaster zone’ and of ‘outrageous’ behaviour by taking two holidays shortly after resigning in the wake of the election defeat. In an outspoken attack Bragg, who was ennobled in 1998, also criticised Miliband’s resignation speech in which he referred to Milifandom, the Twitter and Facebook phenomenon in which he became an unlikely sex symbol” – Sunday Times (£)

SNP objects to Lords amendments to Scotland Bill

“The SNP has accused David Cameron’s government of ­ignoring the democratic will of the Scottish people by using the unelected House of Lords to make changes to the Scotland Bill. Nicola Sturgeon’s party has stepped up its attack on the Conservative government, claiming it was ‘an absolute disgrace’ that key decisions on the future of Holyrood would be made in the Lords… a senior Whitehall source said: ‘This is a manufactured row by the SNP because all they want to do is talk about process’” – Scotland on Sunday

  • Lib Dems spent fortune on doomed bid to defeat Salmond – Sunday Herald

News in brief