News Ed Balls denied the claim that he would go beyond a 50p top tax rate

Ed Balls has vowed to increase the top tax rate for high earners to 50p

Shift that will keep Tories out of northern cities for years

Benefit changes are likely to ensure no Tory is elected as an MP by a northern city for some time  to come

Iain Duncan Smith defended the benefit caps

The real cost of benefits squeeze: £1,600 per family

Devastating research finds only one in eight households facing cuts will be able to find work

The decline in real wages in the UK is described as ‘stunning’

Fall in wages puts Britain in Europe's bottom four

Only workers in Greece, Portugal and the Netherlands have fared worse over the past three years

More 'tax-dodgers' added to most wanted list – but only one of last year's 20 has been caught

Ten new names added as HMRC renews appeal on 19 suspects wanted for variety of tax offences

Ben Chu: The weather is kind when it's raining excuses

Outlook Isn't the British weather wonderful? It saved England from defeat against the resurgent Australians and it's also been putting a rocket under retail sales.

Anthony Hilton: Why banking has to play second fiddle to politics

Lloyds' figures on Thursday showed the bank is fast returning to health and triggered a wave of speculation about when the Government might begin to sell its 39 per cent stake.

Surge in Lloyds shares puts it above Osborne's sell-off target

But Chancellor insists he will not be rushed into returning bank to full public ownership

Lord Howell: 'There are large, uninhabited and desolate areas, certainly in parts of the North East, where there is plenty of room for fracking'

Former energy minister Lord Howell (George Osborne’s father-in-law) says it’s fine to frack in ‘empty, desolate’ North-east

Tory grandee says there should be different rules for the South-east

David Blanchflower: Hold off on the bunting – 0.6 per cent growth does not a recovery make

Osborne is surely putting more pressure on Mark Carney to do more QE and soon

David Cameron during a televised interview held in the garden of 10 Downing Street

Tories would cut taxes after 2015, says David Cameron

David Cameron has indicated he intends to cut taxes if the Conservatives win the next election – but admitted he may not be able to prevent a rise if the economy deteriorated.

Dead end: East Jaywick, a suburb of Clacton in Essex, is the most deprived place in Britain

Government's welfare benefits and tax changes amount to 'speeded-up Thatcherism'

The economy may be growing, but inequality is rising more quickly than in 1980s, report warns

Simon Read: Improving economy? Not when we're haunted by debt

Some grim research was published this week. A survey by the insolvency trade body R3 showed that half of all UK adults are concerned about their debts, while two thirds of those struggling to make it to pay day blame the cost of living for their financial woes.

UK immigration queue for members of the EU

Migrants needed to pay for NHS spending or Britain will go broke, says OBR

Improve NHS efficiency drastically or face boom in national debt burden, Government forecaster warns

Protesters warn against new road plans: Critics say Chancellor's £18bn scheme will harm environment and do nothing to ease congestion

Hundreds of protesters walked the length of a controversial planned road route through the Sussex countryside yesterday on a national rally against the Government's £18bn road-building plans.

Industry figures Lord Browne, Baroness Hogg, Sam Laidlaw, and Lord Howell all advise the government

Revealed: Fracking industry bosses at heart of coalition

Campaigners warn of potential conflicts of interest from energy-sector leaders advising on policy

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John Rees-Evans is standing for Ukip in Cardiff South and Penarth
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Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
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Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
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in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
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David Silva, Andy Carroll, Arsene Wenger and Radamel Falcao
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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South Africa
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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
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'