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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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
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Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
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Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz