Daily catch-up: Frank Field’s big day – the beginning of the end of the tax credits monster

Plus world economic news, schools and another riddle

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The Independent Online

1. Budget day today. A big day for Frank Field, the Labour chairman of the Work and Pensions select committee and long a critic of Gordon Brown’s huge expansion of tax credits.

Field has welcomed the Chancellor’s intention to cut back the “welfare monster” that he says has created a dependency culture among employers.

I can see the argument for cutting tax credits – the bill is now vast, after all, although a lot of it is in effect a tax allowance, simply offsetting income tax and National Insurance paid. But it would increase poverty, as I pointed out the other day. As Iain Duncan Smith cynically admitted, by announcing that the Government would no longer define poverty as 60 per cent of median income.

George Osborne kicks off at 12.30pm.

2. How worried should we be about Greece and China, where the stock markets have been going down while our eyes have been on the eurozone crisis? Gavyn Davies seems to take a pretty calm view about both.

3. The Anti Academies Alliance, which says its sole purpose is not to attack academy schools, has managed to make a fool of itself in its latest, er, constructive criticism of an academy in south London. The Harris Federation, which runs the school, replied promptly to the allegations made by a supposed whistle-blower:

“The Federation did respond on 30th June. Unfortunately their email went straight into our email junk folder. We can only apologise for that. We re-print their response in full below.”

The Harris Federation’s response, once the AAA had retrieved it, was a withering and comprehensive rebuttal of the allegations made, and is worth reading in full.

4. Talking of schools, and how they should be done, I loved this, by John Blake, a history teacher, on teaching the Norman Conquest at different levels.

5. After yesterday’s missing dollar riddle, Daniel Susskind supplies another puzzle, the surprise test puzzle (sometimes told in the form of a condemned man told of his surprise execution), which I had heard before but which is still quite pleasing:



6. And finally, thanks to Ben Stanley ‏for this:

“I had to bury an extinct ancestor to the modern elephant in the Arctic tundra the other day. It was a mammoth undertaking.”