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The News section lists important news items recently published, regarding government policy and issues affecting UK citizens.
The new habitual residence test is being rushed out before transitional controls on Romanians and Bulgarians are lifted.
Inspections by the Care Quality Commission find third of practices fail at least one of required standards.
British Chambers of Commerce upgrades growth forecasts, bringing forward likely date to third quarter of 2014.
New mandatory standard of 60% of 11-year-olds being ‘secondary-ready’ missed by 767 out of 17,000 schools.
Viktor Yanukovych made intentions clear to me, says top EU envoy amid US condemnation of crackdown on Kiev protesters.
Companies transfer monitoring operations to rival Capita as Serious Fraud Office investigates allegations of overcharging.
Publication of Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority’s official proposals puts body on collision course with party leaders.
Schemes range from GCHQ interest in small firms to schools’ hacking race, with £210m boost to security strategy.
Resolution Foundation says chancellor’s autumn statement points to reduced in-work allowances by 2017.
Council damned over Keanu Williams case will invest extra £9m as part of ‘radical’ strategy, but admits service for vulnerable children still not consistent.
Workers including catering and security staff are on zero-hours contracts, which often mean no holiday or sick pay.
Lord Freud accused of backing away from principle of welfare after saying local authorities should ‘ramp up support in kind’.
Final stores to close by Monday with loss of 808 jobs after administrators fail to find buyer for DVD and games rental chain.
‘Non-lethal’ aid suspended after newly formed Islamic Front seizes warehouses in north-west Syria.
British prime minister says he was being polite when Helle Thorning-Schmidt asked him to take part in picture.
Families spending more on heating and maintaining homes, with those on lower incomes cutting spending on food.
Sir Michael Wilshaw says exams should be reintroduced ‘for benefit of children’ as he launches Ofsted annual report.
Senior official’s admission prompts public accounts committee to warn of ‘massive cost to the public purse’.
Attorney general backs Law Commission recommendation that jurors who search web for case details should be jailed.
Select committee’s requests to cross-examine head of MI5 and PM’s national security adviser rejected.
Blow to SFO over aborted corruption trial of accused Blair associate Victor Dahdaleh adds to recent failures.
Postal firm’s share price has nearly doubled since its high profile and controversial partial-privatisation in October.
Home secretary rejects calls for spy boss to justify claim that Guardian put national security at risk in publishing NSA files.
Philip Hammond had planned to replace MoD equipment agency despite opposition from industry and military figures.
Conservative Mark Harper says laws on non-EU workers will not be changed just so Domino’s Pizza can keep wages low.
Dame Julie Mellor found blunders by staff were not looked into properly and that the local NHS did not pursue the truth enough.
Credit card spending and second-hand shops increasingly form the basis for Christmas, according to debt management company Payplan.
Poor households cutting food costs to cope with rising fuel bills, shrinking incomes and government changes, like bedroom tax.
Regulator’s report reveals enormous growth in TV ads for companies such as Wonga, up from 11,000 per year in 2009.
IPPR says prioritising childcare, rather than expanding tax credits, would reinforce Labour’s commitment to families.
ONS data likely to strengthen argument to bring forward pension age to 68 more quickly than planned.
Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs says new evidence of bladder damage means drug should be upgraded from class C.
Justine Greening tells MPs southern African aid programme was poorly managed but finds no evidence of fraud or corruption.
Helle Thorning-Schmidt poses with UK PM and US president for ‘selfie’ at the Johannesburg memorial service for Nelson Mandela.
Decision to carry out full passport checks on passengers last year led to fewer searches for illicit goods and illegal immigrants.
Leaders of UK’s largest local authority say they need to find savings of almost £840m between 2010 and 2018.
Ukip leader makes warning as he defends councillor whose comments on immigration were, he says, ‘taken out of context’.
David Cameron’s refusal to appoint envoy to renegotiate EU membership increases chances of exit, says Douglas Carswell.
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence says one in three patients die within days of surgery from too much fluid.
Asda and Morrisons say they would be unwilling to absorb the extra costs of doing business in a separate Scotland.
Miliband says the idea endangers public confidence in politicians as Ipsa is to recommend an increase to £74,000.
But Iain Duncan Smith’s department says cost of more software over next five years will be revised downward.
Agreement includes demands on job security, pensions and other conditions and union involvement in running of business.
Doctors say burden unsustainable as people in 40s lead surge in admissions, adding they risk cancer as result of drinking habits.
Charles to represent Queen at state funeral next Sunday, while David Cameron will go to Tuesday’s public memorial service.
However official figures show the number of families affected is much smaller than originally expected.
British Conservatives oppose video appearance by NSA whistleblower, which Green MEP says could happen this year.
Mariano Rajoy’s warning appears to be directed at Catalan nationalists pushing for their own independence referendum.
Energy policy would deter investment in sector, argues Ángel Gurría as EDF boss calls on firms to help cut household bills.
Delivering its judgment on George Osborne’s autumn statement, Institute for Fiscal Studies backs claims by Ed Balls that family budgets are being squeezed hard.
Defence secretary Philip Hammond to examine other options after all but one of the external bidders pull out.
Tax on high street operators is ‘outdated, unfair and bad for the economy’.
Delivering its judgment on George Osborne’s autumn statement, Institute for Fiscal Studies backs claims by Ed Balls that family budgets are being squeezed hard.
Former home secretary attacks plans to shift funding away from industrialised northern areas to more prosperous southern districts with higher proportions of pensioners.
Independent body will announce increase to £74,000 from 2015 despite opposition from Cameron and Miliband.
Huge storm and tidal surge pass without major destruction despite water rising above levels of 1953 great flood.
Courts face disruption on 6 January as professional bodies back protest organised by barristers at Criminal Bar Association.
Annual report finds NHS record on mortality has improved, with four fewer trusts reporting high death rates than last year.
Cleanup has begun after floods on Thursday night but Owen Paterson warns of further ‘exceptionally high tides’.
Knee and hip replacement operations and cataract removals fall to lowest level for five years as patients left longer in pain.
Physicist doubts work like Higgs boson identification achievable now as academics are expected to ‘keep churning out papers’.
British prime minister chooses black and white photo of himself with wife Samantha and daughter Florence for festive greeting.
Council tax cuts for ‘granny annexes’ and the demise of the tax disc are among the surprises in the chancellor’s announcement.
Chancellor says state of public finances leaves no room for tax cuts, while Ed Balls highlights fall in living standards.
Despite tougher measures listed in autumn statement, previous efforts have failed to raise Treasury receipts as expected.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: A great light has gone out in the world.
Chancellor says end of ‘cap on aspiration’ funded by selling loan book, but critics question sustainability of annual £700m needed.
Estate agents and mortgage lenders had called for a change in structure of tax, which kicks in at 1% on homes costing £125,000.
The taskforce was set up this summer to identify areas where the current approach was lacking and agree practical steps to fight against all forms of extremism.
We round up the good and bad news for savers, investors, homebuyers, businesses, commuters, young and old.
Chancellor tells ministers to find more efficiency savings as he announces cuts a day before autumn statement.
The government’s controversial bedroom tax could discourage people from working, a group of MPs were warned today.
MPs embarrass company chief executive at Commons hearing as report highlights huge cost overruns and failures.
PM ends three-day visit to China by telling young people they should learn language that will ‘seal tomorrow’s business deals’.
George Osborne will use autumn statement to signal new formula linked to life expectancy that could save £500bn over 50 years.
Despite what Osborne says, many people with degrees are being forced to take low-skilled roles away from their expertise.
Toby Rowland, who was on duty in Downing St during altercation that cost ex-chief whip his job, insists Mitchell called him a pleb.
Prime minister seeks talks on ‘issue of mutual concern’ amid western fears that Beijing is behind most aggressive online attacks.
Polls show Labour with 18-point lead over Ukip in Great Grimsby and 20-point lead over Conservatives in Dudley North.
Keith Vaz, chairman of home affairs select committee, says spy chief Andrew Parker has been summoned to give evidence.
Highly critical report warns commission’s failure to investigate fraud and abuse was undermining public faith in good causes.
David Cameron overrules George Osborne over £1,000 tax break but insists he works with chancellor ‘hand in glove’.
Prime minister enlists 131 delegates to demonstrate full range of UK companies, from manufacturers to creative industries.
PM interrupts discussions with Xi Jinping to express unease over Bloomberg reporter excluded from press conference.
British Gas says average bill will rise £70 instead of £123 this winter as programme to help poor households is scaled back.
PMI rose to 58.4 in November, with new orders at a near-20 year high and thousands of new staff taken on last month.
Figures show that net lending to SMEs is negative, prompting calls for news ways to fund firms and more banking competition.
Brussels to look at UK state aid for nuclear power plant after government offers EDF Energy a set price for 35 years.
Big Six energy companies want coalition to curb green schemes, with threat of gas and electricity prices rising before next election.
Middle and lower earners who work for themselves have seen their income fall significantly since the recession began in 2008.
Bailed-out banks face angry backlash from customers unable to pay for goods or use their accounts for second time this year.
PM calls for new trade agreement as he flies into Beijing hoping to appease leaders angry at Dalai Lama meeting last year.
Councils that passed on government’s cut to means-tested council tax relief report doubling in rate of liability orders sent to non-payers.
Labour joins voices calling on home secretary to explain why ill asylum seeker was returned to UK after 20-hour flight.
Former deputy prime minister calls for a single, democratically elected local authority head.
Nick Clegg reveals extra funds on top of £1bn announced last year for lending to small and medium-sized companies.
Labour down two on 35%, Tories unchanged on 28% and Ukip up three on 19% in latest fortnightly poll.
An Observer poll conducted in four countries reveals the widening gulf between Britain and the rest of the EU. And on both sides of the Channel, attitudes seem to be hardening.
Chancellor likely to bank windfall, and stick to deficit-cutting agenda.
Letter to Home Office minister Norman Baker comes weeks before lifting of restrictions on Romanian and Bulgarian migrants.
The green enthusiast is expected to appeal to Conservative supporters in a bid to save his political career.
60,000 people to receive help over festive season as ministers reject claim of link to welfare changes.
Lord Dobbs will attempt to win support for the Conservative bill in the upper chamber.
Communications minister says there will be no switchover until most listening is digital after MPs voice fears for smaller stations.
Jeremy Hunt says 32 hospitals are under investigation over links to claims of sexual abuse by presenter.
Standing 2.7 metres tall and weighing a tonne, high-speed rail documents arrive for ‘bewildered’ councils to digest.
Workers’ Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought deplored Soviet ‘scum’ and regarded Britain as a fascist state.
David Cameron’s first tweet in Mandarin trended on the Chinese microblogging site, Weibo.
Labour MP says he joined human chain to get victims out of Clutha bar, while patrons tell of moment aircraft fell through roof.
Changed stance over Dalai Lama as No 10 seeks to shift UK-China trade relations.
Contentious comments were made by EU employment commissioner over UK plan to cut benefits for migrants.
London mayor accused by Nick Clegg of talking about people as if they were dogs.
With BIS budget under pressure, coalition reverses policy of encouraging growth in the higher education sector.
Lord Macdonald says that ISC ‘needs more power, cash and opposition chair’.
Equalities minister says men are too often mocked in the workplace for wanting to juggle childcare and career.
Finding comes in a government report showing wide variations in dementia care in England.
Cameron unveils plans to curb EU migrants’ access to benefits but Brussels says freedom of movement is non-negotiable.
London mayor calls for return of selective schools in bid for Tory right’s support.
Study warns that authorities will have to focus on core services, leaving others such as libraries and leisure centres at risk.
NAO finds that the government does not have employment records for around 368,000 students and former students.
Former South African president says his country was asked by UK for help with military plan to remove Robert Mugabe.
Lord Justice Laws makes speech likely to find favour in Downing Street and among Eurosceptic Conservatives.
Concerns emerge days after £10bn worth of new projects – as well as a £4bn windfarm – were postponed or reconsidered.
Committee could advise government if scheme puts financial stability at risk, says governor, but Treasury will have final say.
Plan is sensible and reasonable, say Lib Dems amid move to avert influx from Romania and Bulgaria.
Farage’s party beats Conservatives into third place in survey of constituency where Tory MP is quitting.
EU employment commissioner Laszlo Andor says Cameron’s efforts to outlaw so-called benefit tourism are product of hysteria.
£7m tourism promotion deal would have been better spent backing local economy and film-makers, producer tells MSPs.
A group of local authorities, social landlords and academics has written to the PM urging him not to scrap the charges.
Results come as Vince Cable faces MPs over valuation of Royal Mail – whose market value has risen £2.2bn since sell-off.
Conservative makes attempt to resuscitate political career at press conference in dramatic day of developments.
Big six energy companies made £53 profit per customer before latest price rises – up from £30 a year earlier.
Party challenges coalition to stand up to energy companies as 40% more people admitted to hospital with condition.
UK’s green plans dealt blow by shelving of Atlantic Array, which would have powered 1m homes and created thousands of jobs.
Claim is a bid to undermine release of Alex Salmond’s landmark white paper outlining the case for Scotland leaving the UK.
Scotland’s Future – Your Guide runs to 670 pages and aims to answer all Scots’ questions about secession from the UK.
Union leaders discuss moves for ballot on industrial action on the tube after Boris Johnson unveils plans for 750 job losses.
Scottish deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon issues warning before launch of her government’s white paper on independence.
Alistair Carmichael, the Scottish secretary, says shared currency zones need more economic and political integration, not less.
Online peer-to-peer lender in talks for further state money after lending £17.6m to small businesses on government’s behalf.
Deloitte forecasts total festive season sales figure of £40bn as improving economic conditions encourage looser purse strings.
Dossier claims business assets were seized cheaply amid call to end turnaround arm’s ‘conflict of interests’.
MP leading review of modern slavery says scale of problem becoming clear after three women allegedly found in captivity.
Barack Obama hails historic accord as first step towards resolution of decade-old impasse over Iran’s nuclear programme.
Details from a database of patients’ conditions, treatment and medical histories could even be sold to private companies.
New shadow housing minister unveils plans to head off projected shortage of a million homes by 2022.
vIf the voters say yes, then Independence day will be 24 March 2016 – a date that resonates in Scotland’s history.
Investigation to focus on aborted Lloyds bid as former chairman Paul Flowers released on bail in drugs probe.
Attorney general Dominic Grieve cites cases of electoral fraud and singles out Pakistani community.
Supermarket chain is first in UK to restrict sales of high-caffeine products such as Red Bull to under-16s.
Amendment tabled by Tory MP Adam Afriyie calls for referendum on UK’s membership of EU to be brought forward to 2014.
West Yorkshire police question 63-year-old Methodist minister who was filmed allegedly handing over cash to buy drugs.
Three women in London have been freed after 30 years of alleged domestic slavery. Sources disagree about how many others there may be.
Regulator says privatised group missed requirement to deliver 93% of all first class letters on day after collection.
Stevens commission expected to say PCCs have not increased public accountability of police or proved to be cost-effective.
Commons votes by 249 to 15 against rebel Tory backbencher Adam Afriyie’s amendment calling for 2014 referendum.
PM says there is a distinction between images online, which he is trying to tackle with filters, and those in a newspaper.
Theresa May believes new bill will help reduce reoffending among those convicted of complex offences.
Good news for George Osborne ahead of autumn statement as public sector net borrowing falls to £8.1bn for month.
No 10 says it does not recognise the phrase but prime minister’s team does not explicitly deny such a statement was made.
Intelligence and security committee chair Sir Malcolm Rifkind seeks explanation of deal that allowed US to ‘unmask’ Britons.
Unions criticise plans, which involve closure of most ticket offices and move to direct payment via contactless bank cards.
Deputy PM says Edward Snowden revelations are ‘chipping away at bedrock of public support for work of agencies’.
Campaigners claim whitewash after committee says there would be no advantage in stopping UK arms sales to kingdom.
Downing Street says it does not recognise phrase attributed to PM, and says he is not ditching commitment to environment.
‘Chancellors’ to run eight English education regions in system which echoes model of school governance in US.
Widening of stretch of track will cause closures and disruption that could drive away traders and tourists, says BOP.
MPs launch inquiry into housing policy as planning minister admits parts of it may be too complex.
Chatham House report challenges view that politicians, including Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, bear sole blame for failures.
Local Government Association says Barnett formula for allocating spending around UK should be scrapped.
West Yorkshire police investigating after Paul Flowers filmed allegedly buying and using illegal drugs.
Resolution Foundation finds low and middle-income families can’t afford mortgage guarantee across two-thirds of Britain.
MPs hear of attempts to massage crime figures to improve ‘performance’ figures: lives have been lost, says former officer.
Centre for Social Justice says poorer people ‘bearing brunt of storm’ as debt hits £1.4tn – almost as high as economic output.
Ucatt has drawn up list of companies it says are guilty of breach of confidence and misuse of private information.
Building society offers 95% mortgages at interest rates that beat government’s Help to Buy lending scheme.
Communications Workers Union calls for payments to be withheld to banks which advised on privatisation.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development upgrades its outlook for the UK but cut its forecasts for the global economy.
Health secretary says plan would give hospitals incentive to be open about blunders, in wake of Mid Staffordshire scandal.
Len Wardle takes responsibility for appointing the disgraced Paul Flowers to chair the bank three years ago.
With record amounts donated to Children in Need, UK public give more than £70m to charities in less than a week.
NHS trusts will be required to publish figures from next April but health secretary rejects fixed staff-patient ratio.
Management orders review into ‘any inappropriate behaviour’ after allegations Paul Flowers bought cocaine and crystal meth.
Leading public health official calls for a lowering of the age of consent to make it easier for 15-year-olds to seek contraception.
Technology to identify content from paedophiles, and UK to join forces with US at Downing Street summit.
Nigel Farage scores PR coup as Paul Sykes gives party undisclosed amount in hope of securing Britain’s exit from EU.