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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Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis