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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Patrick Stewart in the classiest ice bucket to date
people
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Australian rapper Iggy Azalea was left red faced but, thankfully, unhurt after taking a few too many steps backwards, sending her tumbling off the stage.
peopleIggy Azalea was left red faced but apparently unhurt after taking a few too many steps backwards
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newsComedian Lee Hurst started trend with first tweet using the hashtag
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The current recommendation from Britain's Chief Medical Officer, is that people refrain from drinking on at least two days a week
food + drinkTheory is that hangovers are caused by methanol poisoning
Life and Style
A nearly completed RoboThespian robot inside the Engineered Arts workshop is tested in Penryn, England. The Cornish company, operating from an industrial unit near Falmouth, is the world's only maker of commercially available life sized humanoid robots
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scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
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techConcept would see planes coated in layer of micro-sensors and able to sense wear and tear
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
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Extras
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
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All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition