News According to research published by the Ministry of Justice, over a fifth of out of work benefits claimants have a criminal record

More than a fifth of out of work benefits claimants have a criminal record according to research published by the Ministry of Justice today.

Iain Duncan Smith blamed civil servants for not giving him the full picture of teething problems of universal credit

Iain Duncan Smith compares being on benefits to slavery and suggests he is acting in tradition of abolitionist

Iain Duncan Smith has suggested being on benefits is a form of slavery and he is like abolitionist William Wilberforce through his introduction of welfare reforms.

Rise in ‘funeral poverty’ means more than 100,000 in UK cannot afford to die

Damning study says there is a lack of support to help Britain’s poorest pay for funerals

A volunteer puts together a parcel of food at a Food Bank in Brixton, south London

UK ‘has some of the highest and most volatile food prices’, claims Oxfam

Britons face some of the highest and most volatile food prices in Western Europe, according to research published today.

Andy McSmith's Diary: David Cameron tussles with ancestors, A-roads and Aziz

Given how sensitive David Cameron is to the accusation that he is a “posh boy”, he is not going to be pleased when he opens the current edition of The Spectator, in which his father-in-law, William Astor, revisits the family link to the old Profumo scandal.

Multiple sclerosis charity says benefits reform is creating anxiety amongst sufferers

Changes to the benefits system are forcing those in greatest need of aid to suffer, a charity has warned.

In a letter sent to Iain Duncan Smith, campaigners warned that disabled people make up two thirds of those hit by the policy

Bedroom tax hits 60,000 families with carers

About 60,000 families living in council homes where there is someone caring for an elderly or disabled relative have been caught out by the “bedroom tax”.

2013 - the year in review: For most young people, the 'recovery' was anything but

A competitive job market meant that many young people were forced to take low-skilled, poorly paid roles

The Conservative Cabinet Minister told the Trussell Trust he denied claims that benefits reforms were linked to the rocketing number of people turning to it for help

Iain Duncan Smith accuses food bank charity the Trussell Trust of scaremongering

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has refused requests to meet the leaders of a major food bank charity and accused them of “scaremongering”, it has emerged.

Protesters have been very vocal about the so-called 'bedroom tax'; here pictured outside the LibDem conference

One third of disabled people asking for help with ‘bedroom tax’ have applications rejected

Critics say there is a ‘postcode lottery’ for grants meant to protect the vulnerable

Mr Duncan Smith disclosed last week that his 2017 target for the full introduction of Universal Credit is set to be missed - with around 700,000 claimants facing a longer wait.

Iain Duncan Smith insists welfare reform is not 'a debacle' despite delays and multi-million pound software write-off

Mr Duncan Smith disclosed last week that his 2017 target for the full introduction of Universal Credit is set to be missed

Bar staff, retail workers and waiters are amongst those who've been affected the most

The poorest pay the price for austerity: Workers face biggest fall in living standards since Victorian era

The number of public sector workers on low wages doubles to more than one million, with women and part-time staff disproportionately affected by squeeze on incomes

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has been accused of attempting to hide the bad news by announcing it at the same time as the Autumn Statement

New Universal Credit benefits system to miss 2017 deadline, admit ministers

Around 700,000 claimants will not transfer to the new system until 2018 at the earliest, Department of Work and Pensions admits

Fitness to work test DOES disadvantage mentally ill: Court of Appeal upholds ruling against Government

Hundreds of thousands of people with learning difficulties, mental health problems and autism have to go through the Work Capability Assesment to find out if they are eligible for Employment Support Allowance

A4e welfare to work: Five charged over alleged fraud

A further charge has been made against five people in connection with alleged fraudulent activity at welfare to work company A4e, it has been announced.

Delays to welfare reform sees single parents lose up to £60 a week

The DWP said In Work Credits created a perverse incentive not to work as they were only open to claimants once they had been on benefits for a year

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
Prices correct as of 20 February 2015
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?