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Bethany Doughty worked as an actuary for 10 years before deciding to retrain as a maths teacher. It has proved to be a lifechanging move, for all the right reasons…

Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Iain Duncan Smith puts ministerial career on the line after rolling out a barrel-full of jargon and clichés

It’s a sure sign that a minister is under pressure when the jargon level rises. As Iain Duncan Smith defended himself today the jargonometer surged into the red zone.

Egypt court orders the closure of Al-Jazeera and three other television channels

The Al-Jazeera Egypt network, along with three other stations known to have covered Muslim Brotherhood protests have been told to stop broadcasting by an Egyptian court.

‘Something very wrong in IDS’s mind’ on welfare, says shadow Work and Pensions Secretary

The shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Liam Byrne, has launched an attack on Iain Duncan Smith, claiming there “seems to be something very wrong in the mind” of the Work and Pensions Secretary.

Academy chain to break Government pay ceiling in bid to lure ‘best teachers’

One of the country’s biggest academy chains is busting the Government’s pay ceiling for public sector workers by offering all its teachers a 1.5 per cent pay rise.

Sir Jeremy Heywood’s £25,000 tax perk was also revealed

Scottish civil servants pick up £1m tax perk

Chicken, beef and egg inspectors have had £1m of tax on personal car use picked up over the past decade by the Scottish government, according to a whistleblower who signed off many of the expenses. Charles Russell, Scotland's senior poultry officer for 21 years, told The IoS that 19 cars are allocated to low- and mid-ranking civil servants, who saved £4,000-£6,000 every year in tax as a result of this perk. These officials also include six horticultural officers and eight school inspectors.

Whitehall ‘less effective’ because of job cuts

More than one-third of civil servants believe the Government is botching its attempt to cut the size of Whitehall by allowing the most talented workers to leave.

Plain cigarette packaging: Labour urges Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood to intervene over Lynton Crosby 'lobbying'

Labour have attempted to ratchet up the pressure on Britain’s most senior civil servant to intervene in the row over allegations that the Conservatives’ election guru used his position to lobby ministers on behalf of private clients.

Lynton Crosby, right, played a big part in David Cameron's election win

David Cameron accused over ‘stitched together’ Lynton Crosby memo

Conservative party election strategist denies discussed tobacco issues with PM or Health Secretary

Sir Bob Kerslake will be replaced as Head of the Civil Service – but not yet

Death rattle of the mandarins?

Reform is coming to the Civil Service, but some worry it will harm more than help

Sir Bob Kerslake will be replaced as Head of the Civil Service – but not yet

Oliver Wright: The dismissal Downing St was forced to dismiss

Inside Whitehall: The Civil Service is a very, very big organisation and it needs someone with corporate expertise to run it

Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Underpaid? There’s little sympathy for MPs. And they can pay for their own tea

Sir Ian Kennedy seemed stolidly unmoved by the prevailing view. He said it was a ‘very good deal’

Bob Kerslake: being forced out of his job after less than two years, having 'failed' to implement changes in Whitehall

Exclusive: An uncivil end? PM’s frustrations could see Whitehall head ousted

Civil service boss Sir Bob Kerslake blamed for slow pace of reform, in role described as ‘impossible’ by critics

El Mundo yesterday printed a picture of a ledger purporting to show Mariano Rajoy received €42,000 in 1997

Allegations of slush fund cash payments hit Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was allegedly paid from a slush fund operated by the governing People’s Party (PP) when he was a minister in the 1990s, according to documents published in the newspaper El Mundo. The accusations drew denials from the PP and calls for Mr Rajoy’s resignation, from opposition parties weary of austerity measures and an economy mired in recession.

Greek state school teachers protest outside of the Ministry of Administrative Reform in Athens

International lenders pave way for Greece to receive latest payment of bailout loans

Agreement on reform reached despite debt inspectors warning of an 'uncertain economic outlook'

Public sector workers to lose automatic pay rises, as Chancellor George Osborne unveils further £11.5 billion cuts

Chancellor says public sector pay rises will be limited to an average of up to one per cent for 2015-16, adding 'but the biggest reform we make on pay is to automatic progression pay'

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there