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The firm carrying out the Government’s controversial “fitness for work” tests on disabled benefit claimants is a “disgrace” and should be stripped of its contract, Labour will say on Monday.

John, 9, Duwayne, 13, Jade, 10, Jayden, 5, Jesse, 6, and Jack Philpott, 7, all died after a blaze was started deliberately at the family's semi-detached house in Allenton, Derby
The Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith

'Bedroom tax': now Duncan Smith offers concessions to foster carers and armed forces' parents

Foster carers and parents of serving armed forces personnel will be exempted from welfare deductions if they have spare rooms, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has announced.

The Sketch: Two balding blokes and the battle of the Bill

Two balding men who look remarkably alike went head-to-head in the Commons today, trading statistics and insults with a pleasing symmetry.

Labour defends plans to deprive the long-term unemployed of benefits if they refuse to take job offer

Labour today defended its plans to deprive the long-term unemployed of their benefits if they refuse to take up the offer of a “guaranteed” job.

Most benefits up 20 per cent since 2007

Iain Duncan Smith’s campaign to show how the welfare system discourages claimants from working was backed up yesterday with newly published figures from his department about how different groups have fared under the recession.

Government's Work Programme only helps one person in three find a job

The Government will today order private firms running its schemes to help the jobless find work to “raise their game” as official figures show its £5bn Work Programme has made a disappointing start.

Student Liam Byrne 'fortunate' to survive parachute failure

A student who ended up stuck in a tree after falling 3,000ft (914m) when his canopy failed to open on his very first parachute jump was “very fortunate”, firefighters have said.

Labour leadership disowns threat to OAP benefits

The Labour leadership slapped down a shadow minister last night who suggested that a Miliband government could target universal benefits such as the winter fuel allowance and free bus passes for pensioners.

Labour leader Ed Miliband aims to take the North of England

Local elections: Labour hopes to gain if it's a dismal night for Lib Dems

While Ed Miliband aims to take the north of England, expectations are low for Nick Clegg's party

Cameron 'knew nothing' of investigation into A4e

Warnings that police were investigating fraud allegations involving Emma Harrison's company were not passed to David Cameron before he appointed her as his "families tsar", Downing Street said yesterday.

Mary Ann Sieghart: How austerity is changing us

Instead of seeking gratification by going shopping, we are achieving it by finding new ways of saving money

Lords may ambush plans to limit benefits

Plans to impose an annual limit on benefit payments could be ambushed in the House of Lords following a warning from within Whitehall that the move risked making 40,000 families homeless.

Labour must 'learn from the past but not live in it', says Liam Byrne

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary said Labour would need policies for a different economy, welfare state and form of government

True colours? Is Blue Labour the way forward for the left?

In the Westminster village, the talk is of 'Blue Labour'. But does this nascent ideology offer a real way forward for the left, asks Amol Rajan – or is it just another empty political buzz-phrase?

Experts wary despite jobless unemployment drop

Unemployment fell in the first three months of the year but economists today warned the broader picture fuelled concern for the future of the labour market.

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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
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Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert