News Council tax set to rise by as much as five per cent

The amount paid by households towards the cost of policing looks set to rise by up to five per cent this year as the Government faces a potential show down with its flagship Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) who are demanding above inflation increases in council tax to combat swingeing budget cuts.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg visiting a nursery in London last year

Improve nursery provisions before expanding free places, government warned

Ministers have been urged to delay expanding their plan to provide free nursery provision for two-year-olds until existing provision is brought up to scratch.

Rise in ‘funeral poverty’ means more than 100,000 in UK cannot afford to die

Damning study says there is a lack of support to help Britain’s poorest pay for funerals

A woman pulls her dog in a boat at the Abbey Fields caravan park after the River Thames flooded on 8 January 8.

Government gives councils almost £7m to help deal with flood damage

The Local Government Authority said the repairs will increase financial pressure facing local authorities

Be quick on your feet and check out your gym contract before you get signed up

Savvy Money: Sign up to a gym contract as supple as you aim to be

If your resolution to fight the flab weakens, the only pounds you lose may be in health club bills

Renewal says that millions of people have been priced out of the housing market and that the 300,000 homes a year target should include allowing local authorities to build more social housing

Building new homes to trump Labour is key to winning the election, Tories told

The Conservatives are being urged to trump Labour by promising to build 300,000 new homes a year, in an attempt to shed their “party of the rich” image.

Toxic waste was left at the site of Corby’s former steel works

Funding axed for clean-up of toxic land

Polluted sites could go untreated as cash-strapped councils have to foot the bill to investigate possible contamination

Why drivers’ road rage is misplaced

Two topics guaranteed to get drivers steamed up are the cost of parking and the number of potholes in their streets. But many motorists who direct their incentive at “profiteering” town halls probably do not realise that much of the cash they put into ticket machines is ultimately used to repair local roads and upgrade public transport. It simply cannot be used to reduce council debts or subsidise other services.

The MP Louise Ellman branded the use of parking fines to raise revenue unacceptable and illegal

Councils make £600m profit from parking tickets

Councils across England have been accused of implementing “an unacceptable mass ticketing culture” after the release of figures showing that car parking charges have generated £600m of surplus profit in the past year.

Protesters have been very vocal about the so-called 'bedroom tax'; here pictured outside the LibDem conference

One third of disabled people asking for help with ‘bedroom tax’ have applications rejected

Critics say there is a ‘postcode lottery’ for grants meant to protect the vulnerable

The plans have been described by Labour as turning Eric Pickles into Whitehall’s ‘censor’in-chief’

Councils could be banned from using 'bedroom tax' phrase in move to veto contentious language

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles could be given power to put a blue pencil through any language with which he disagrees, critics claim

Simon Calder: Sir Howard Davies has tight-rope walked the line between Cameron and Boris over airport expansion

Ruling out all Thames Estuary options at this stage would have fuelled that political battle rather than allowing the Airports Commission diligently to evaluate each of the three short-listed options

Over 3,000 people are still living as patients in hospitals, one year on from Government commitments to transform adult social care in the wake of the Winterbourne View abuse scandal

One in five patients with learning disabilities live in hospitals 100km or more from their families

Thousands of patients still live in hospitals, a year on from Government promises to transform adult social care

In some rural areas, almost every bus route is subsidised by the local council, and these are vulnerable as funding cuts bite further

Buses in crisis: Cuts see routes dwindle - despite people using them more than all other forms of public transport in Britain

In bigger towns and cities only one service in 20 receives support, while in some rural areas almost every bus is subsidised

Pedal power: British cyclist Elizabeth Armitstead

Women cyclists face an uphill climb to attract sponsors

An event featuring some of the biggest names in the sport is struggling to find funding. Is it because the riders are female?

Minimum wage must be enforced on pay-cheat bosses, says think tank

Tougher action is needed to enforce the national minimum wage and tackle rogue employers who refuse to pay the statutory rate, a new report has urged.

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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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Prices correct as of 23 January 2015
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us