BBC: George Osborne has launched his spending review with a call for £20bn cuts to Whitehall budgets. Each unprotected department has been asked to come up with savings plans of 25% and 40% of their budget. The chancellor said departments had also been asked to help meet a target of 150,000 new homes on public sector land by 2020. The NHS and per-pupil schools budgets will be protected in the review, which will be published on 25 November. Mr Osborne, who is currently giving evidence to MPs, said that "with careful management of public money, we can get more for less".
BBC: "Thirteen million UK families will lose an average of £260 a year due to the freeze in working-age benefits, says the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)." BBC: Benefit Changes, who will be affected? "Hundreds of thousands of UK families will be affected by cuts of £12bn in the UK's welfare budget announced by the chancellor." BBC: Budget Calculator.
BBC: "A clampdown on "taxpayer-funded subsidies" for "higher earners" living in social housing is to be announced by the chancellor in Wednesday's Budget. Local authority and housing association tenants in England who earn more than £30,000 - or £40,000 in London - will have to pay up to the market rent, George Osborne will say. The move is expected to raise up to £250m a year by 2018-19. It is thought that this could affect 340,000 households." George Osborne said: "the Budget would "reward work over welfare" and allow people to keep more of the money they earned."
A Conservative welfare minster has apologised after suggesting that disabled people are "not worth" the national minimum wage and some could only be paid "£2 an hour". Lord Freud, the Welfare Reform minister admitted the comments were "offensive” after they were disclosed by Ed Miliband during Prime Minister's Questions this afternoon. The Labour leader has called on the Tory peer to resign.
Newly released cabinet papers from 1984 reveal mineworkers' union leader Arthur Scargill may have been right to claim there was a "secret hit-list" of more than 70 pits marked for closure. The government and National Coal Board said at the time they wanted to close 20. But the documents reveal a plan to shut 75 mines over three years. A key adviser to then-PM Margaret Thatcher denies any cover-up claims. The miners' strike began in March 1984 and did not end until the next year. [more inside]
"Britain's poor were absolutely and relatively better off until Thatcher was elected in 1979. Since then, the bottom half of society is worse off than it was in 1983." "In 1945, when Thatcher turned 20, the richest 0.01 per cent people in Britain received 123 times the mean national average income. By the time she turned 40 in 1965 that had halved to 62 times, and the year before she came to power, in 1978, it was at its minimum: just 28 times the average income."
Gay marriage: Religious 'opt-in' offered, but not to CofE - "The Church of England and Church in Wales will be banned in law from offering same-sex marriages, the government has announced. Other religious organisations will be able to "opt in" to holding ceremonies, Culture Secretary Maria Miller said. But she added that the Church of England and Church in Wales had "explicitly" stated strong opposition and would not be included." Included in the legisation is "Amending the 2010 Equality Act to ensure no discrimination claim can be brought against religious organisations or individual ministers for refusing to marry a same-sex couple."
The prime minister has suggested that people under the age of 25 could lose the right to housing benefit, as part of moves to cut the welfare bill. Scrapping the benefit for that age group would save almost £2bn a year. via BBC News. Comments sortable and worth reading. [more inside]