News The more modern town of Salford, where the latest investment of the English Cities Fund is expected to be announced

Could Britain’s chronic housing shortage be solved by using insurers’ assets? Jamie Dunkley and Russell Lynch report

Rural exodus leads to dozens of village schools closing

Ministers say relaxation of planning laws will boost rural communities by enabling affordable housing

Mortgage approvals increase to 14-month high

The squeeze on mortgage borrowers is easing, according to lending figures released yesterday by the Bank of England. Approvals for home purchases in July numbered 49,239, up from 48,500 in June. Approvals are now at their highest level since May 2010 as building societies and banks continue to increase their lending to prospective home buyers.

Mark Steel: When in doubt, blame red tape

The problem, apparently, is red tape. It's stifling business and preventing growth, because red tape is evil, and you can no more argue in favour of red tape than say, "I don't wish to contribute to the fight against cancer as I think we should have more of it".

Houseboats to provide key to UK housing crisis

The government has unveiled its latest answer to the shortage of affordable homes in Britain: it wants more people to live on houseboats.

Liverpool urged to make stadium decision by minister

Housing minister Grant Shapps has called on Liverpool to make a swift decision on their stadium plans to prevent ongoing uncertainty in the area.

Ayre accuses government in Liverpool stadium row

Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre has angrily responded to housing minister Grant Shapps after he criticised the amount of time it is taking the club to decide on its stadium future.

Paul Vallely: Vengeance is not the answer

Court sentences and communities seek revenge, but that merely perpetuates a damaging cycle

Riots: Cameron under attack

Boris Johnson calls for U-turn on police numbers, while No 10 ridiculed over plans to use water cannon

At the bottom of the ladder: Why shared ownership ends in disappointment for many people

Part-buy, part-rent schemes offer to fulfil the dreams of first-time buyers. But they're not always an easy option, says Oliver Bennett

Government plans to scrap squatters' rights

Squatters could be jailed and so-called "squatters' rights" scrapped under Government plans.

Shapps: Mortgage lenders must do more

Mortgage lenders came under a two-pronged attack yesterday, as the Government and the building industry demanded they do more to kick-start the property market. But lenders pointed out that the schemes called for were already available.

Scheme launched to help first-time buyers

A new scheme aimed at helping first-time buyers to get a foot on the property ladder was launched by the Government today.

House Doctor: 'How long until I can get on the first rung of the property ladder?

Question: I'm due to graduate with a Masters degree and have been fortunate enough to land a job paying a very decent £35,000 a year.

Land sale planned to reduce deficit

The Government is planning to sell public land worth an estimated £10bn to address a chronic housing shortage and help erode its record budget deficit. The Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, is due to announce today that all government departments with significant land banks will be asked to identify, by the autumn, land suitable for sale for homes.

Wealthy council tenants face review

Tenants who earn more than £100,000 a year could be removed from their council houses under plans being examined by the Government.

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Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
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After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
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food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
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Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
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The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas