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James Purnell, the Work and Pensions Secretary, is to take action to ensure that vulnerable groups are not left behind in the jobs market as unemployment begins to bite
Tory leader denounces welfare plans as 'macho posturing exercise'
And benefits shake-up will force most claimants to look for work or re-train
Culture secretaries used not to be like this. So just how far could the Everton fan's capacity for original thinking take him?
In a major reshuffle of the "thirtysomethings" in government, Gordon Brown has used the departure of Peter Hain to freshen the look of his Cabinet by promoting three young high-flyers to senior posts.
The Arts Council, the quango that funds the bulk of the country's artistic activity, has announced that it is ceasing to fund nearly a quarter of the organisations that it currently finances – 194 of them, ranging from theatres such as the Northcott in Exeter to orchestras such as the City of London Sinfonia to art galleries, literary groups, gay arts groups, and the National Student Drama Festival. Many of those taking a cut will have to close down. Meanwhile, other organisations, favoured by the Arts Council, will receive sizeable increases.
There are two views of the arts in Britain, and yesterday the difference between these perspectives appeared more stark than ever. On one side are those who run the UK's cultural sector, who proclaim the nation is enjoying a golden age of artistic endeavour. And then there are the artists themselves.