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

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.

MPs handed £3.2m expenses payout

MPs were paid £3.2 million in expenses from the final two months of 2010, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) disclosed today.

Clegg's own work experience casts shadow over social mobility drive

Nick Clegg had to own up to some embarrassing truths about his own privileged background yesterday as he launched his campaign to give everyone more equal opportunities in life.

Ian Duncan Smith to outline state pension plan

Iain Duncan Smith will today outline plans to create a flat-rate £140-a-week state pension after condemning the existing system as complex and in "crisis".

Mary Ann Sieghart: From the sublime to the ridiculous

If Miliband doesn't provide more direction for his party and more definition for himself, he may end up like William Hague

Self-employed set for higher state pensions

Self-employed people will receive a higher state pension. Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, will pledge that people running business will benefit from his plan to scrap means-testing and bring in a flat-rate pension of about £155 a week.

Osborne's secret plan to raise tax – and scrap national insurance

Radical reform that has been shunned by past chancellors may be taken up by the Coalition

Unemployment rises to 2.5 million – a 17-year high

Unemployment has risen to 2.53 million, the highest it has been since 1994, with the rate of youth unemployment soaring to a 20-year peak.

Government eyes reform of basic state pension

The basic state pension needs radical reform and cannot be immune from the Coalition Government's welfare shake-up, Iain Duncan Smith will declare today. The Work and Pensions Secretary wants to scrap the pension credit top-up scheme introduced by Labour for over-60s on low incomes and instead give people more incentive to save. The move could be signalled in the Budget on 23 March.

Teen pregnancy rate lowest for 30 years

Health campaigners lauded a historic low in teenage pregnancy yesterday but warned that government cuts will soon send the numbers rising again.

Leading article: Cameron's shaky grip

It is becoming harder to escape the growing realisation that the Prime Minister's supposed virtues might be vices. The collegiate chairman of the Cabinet, who delegates to his ministers and floats above the fray, is beginning to look like a broad-brush front man who has been forced into a series of U-turns to limit the damage caused by his inattention to detail. The well-meaning advocate of greater civic responsibility and collective sacrifice is beginning to look like someone who thinks that the Big Society is for the little people. The leader who wants to be the heir to Blair, but to learn from Tony Blair's self-confessed failure to press ahead with reform quickly enough in his first term, is beginning to look like someone urging his ministers to rush into changes that they have not thought through and about which he finds out too late.

The Sketch: IDS takes the lid off social reform as Dave flatters the feckless

It probably wasn't solely to annoy Polly that they held their poverty presser in Toynbee Hall but it must have been an incidental pleasure. Iain Duncan Smith and David Cameron announced the Tory welfare plan in that Edwardian palace of civic goodwill and self-improvement. I'm not sneering at either mind you, that's a trick you find on the professional left. But the venue was iconic, and part of the message-sending thing they enjoy doing – like Ed Balls eating the Kleinwort Benson canapes.

Another blow for workers in the 'squeezed middle'

Hundreds of thousands of people who come off benefits to take jobs could be worse off as they move up the income scale under the Government's sweeping welfare reforms.

What's in the Welfare Reform Bill?

The Government has pledged the biggest shake-up of the benefits system in 60 years, saying that 2.7 million households will be better off and almost a million people will be taken out of poverty.

Government ditches housing benefit cut

The Government has dropped controversial plans to cut housing benefit for long-term dole claimants, it was confirmed today.

Cameron pledges crackdown on jobless to cure 'sicknote culture'

David Cameron will pledge today to cure Britain's "sicknote culture" as he signals another crackdown on jobless people accused of not making enough effort to find work.

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Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

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