News round-up: MPs: Complex rules deprive carers of benefits

MPs say complex rules deprive carers of benefits

Britain’s 6 million unpaid carers who look after relatives or dependants are bamboozled by “incomprehensible” official guidance on benefits, MPs say today. Only about 900,000 people receive allowances, partly because regulations are “unnecessarily complex” and inadequately advertised, the Commons public accounts committee suggests. The study notes that £2bn a year is given out in benefits to carers, while their commitment saves the Treasury around £23bn in health and social work bills. It adds that jobcentres do not provide enough help to carers seeking part-time work.

“Benefits for carers are unnecessarily complex and cause confusion,” the report states. “About a fifth of carers who receive benefits have difficulties with some aspect of the application process.”

Read more on this story in The Guardian

We will not flinch from hard decisions on spending cuts, says Alistair Darling

Alistair Darling will tomorrow start the long and fraught process of disclosing how Labour will eventually cut public spending. In a major lecture opening up what may prove to be the debate that will settle the next election, the chancellor will try to differentiate Labour from the Tories over both the shape and the timing of any cuts.

After protracted debate inside the cabinet, in which Labour has appeared reluctant to acknowledge the need to address the public debt, Darling will insist the government will “not flinch from difficult decisions by making clear, hard choices on public spending”.

Read more on this story in The Guardian

British teenage drop-out rate ‘among worst in developed world’

Britain now has one of the worst teenage drop-out rate of any developed country. 

Only Turkey, Israel and Brazil have more 15 to 19-year-olds not in education, employment or training according to the report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). 

The UK also has among the highest numbers who fail to complete their higher education — with vocational courses having particularly low graduation rates. 

Read more on this story in The Times

Scrap Trident, voters tell Brown

The public wants Britain to scrap the Trident nuclear missile system but believes spending on health and education should rise each year, according to a ComRes poll for The Independent.

By a margin of 58 to 35 per cent, people believe that the £25bn renewal of the Trident programme should be abandoned because of the state of the public finances. The finding will strengthen the hand of ministers who are pressing Gordon Brown to cancel or delay the scheme as Labour prepares to unveil public spending cuts.

Read more about this story in The Independent

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