News digest 24 February 2014

News digest 24 February 2014

24 February 2014

Today’s top reads: Stories to keep an eye out for:

·                Western nations scramble to contain fallout of Ukraine crisis – Guardian

·                Tories push oil deal to encourage Scots voters to stay in UK - Telegraph

·                Decision to scrap hardship fund ‘will leave some families destitute’ – Indie

·                Tory cashes in on welfare handouts he opposes - Mirror

·                Moyles and co are the real parasites – Kevin Maguire – Mirror

The top story in today’s papers is the weekend ousting of the elected president of Ukraine, Victor Yanukovich, whose whereabouts are unknown. An ally of ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko has been appointed acting president and the EU and US have promised a billion dollar bailout to help the ravaged economy which had been propped up by Russian funds, those funds look likely to be withdrawn, and it looks like a new fissure between east and west is playing out across the country. Russian president Vladimir Putin – basking in the success of the Sochi Winter Olympics – may now turn his attention to what he considers ‘trouble in his backyard’, it all looks rather complex and while much of the west seems supportive of the regime change, Edward Lucas in the Mail does warn of what lurks behind the mask or many of the right wing elements in the coalition that overthrew the Yanukovich reguime, be wary is the watchword, oddly it seems that chancellor George Osborne wants to throw money at the new regime – another Mail report is headlined ‘Open our chequebook to rebuild Ukraine says Osborne’ -  odd how they find cash when they want it for their own ends.

And from foreign to domestic affairs, or possibly future foreign affairs, as prime minister David Cameron tries to ratchet up the pressure over the independence referendum. There are frequent references to the future of North Sea oil with Cameron promising a renaissance with the possibility of a £200 billion revival of the industry, both sides of the debate are trading fresh claims and counter-claims, and there’s still over six months to the September vote, expect more opening of chequebooks by the Con-Dem coalition…

Sadly someone is having to pay for all this, and the Indie highlights whom, namely the poor and the vulnerable. The paper reports on the axing of the £347 million hardship fund with town hall leaders saying the result will be that ‘some families are left destitute’, this in the seventh richest economy in the world. Then again, the goalposts seem to be shifted,  the Times reports that work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith will go ahead with his plan to widen the definition of child poverty. However this does not mean more people will be caught in any safety net, rather that they will fall through it, the Americanisation of our welfare state continues.

Speaking of which, a few papers report that national insurance is to be renamed. The 100 year old charge on all employers and employees – monikored the jobs tax by the right – will be renamed ‘earnings tax’ as the government as a first step to merging income tax and national insurance. What none of the papers say is the probably intention, national insurance has often been used as the justification for the NHS and social services, if that goes will the NHS and unemployment and other benefits be far behind, as ever never trust a Tory…

And finally the Mirror splashes on the people cashing in on welfare hand-outs, the landlords. The paper splashes with the story of the Tory MP - already worth £110 million – who is raking in £625,000 a year from hard-up housing tenants’ housing benefit, even though he has blasted the ‘something for nothing’ welfare state. Tory MP Richard Benyon owns 20,000 acres of land across the country and more than 300 houses in Hackney, and his firm received £625,964 in housing benefit from West Berkshire council last year, all of that benefit went to the ‘landlord’, time for a cap on rents and to build more council housing, remember it costs 29 per cent more to house a tenant with private landlord than in council housing, someone is working the system and it’s not those at the bottom, rather rich MPs like Benyon and so-called celebs like Chris Moyles summed up effectively by Kevin Maguire in the Mirror as ‘the real parasites’, no argument there…

Edited by Mik Sabiers

  Morning Star

  Daily Mirror

  Sun  (no links all stories now behind paywall)

  • Scots told: Split and forfeit cash (p2)
  • Tim Rice donates £7.5K to Ukip (p2)
  • The Tories should be the workers’ party – Robert Halfon (p8)
  • 34 million failed bids to see a doctor (p12)



  Times  (no links all stories behind paywall)

  • Secret pensions fees that cost billions exposed (p1)
  • Keep troops out of Ukraine, Russia told (p1)
  • IDS to widen definition of child poverty (p4)
  • May risks new row with No 10 over increase in visa costs (p15)
  • RSA makes £500 million cash call (p35)
  • Law firms face squeeze on costs (p17)
  • BA benefits by dropping ‘world’s favourite’ tag (p38)




  FT  (no links all stories behind paywall)

  • West rushes to Ukraine’s rescue (p1-3)
  • Cameron supports review of North Sea oil (p4)
  • G4S beset by accounting allegations (p5)
  • Tory MP’s fear ‘too posh’ policy team (p6)
  • Earnings lag behind Europe’s economies (p19)
  • Banks hit by fresh reporting demands (p20)

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