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Think Tank: Families will be hit when universal credit introduced

The Treasury's decision to scrap cuts to tax credits means that families will be affected when the planned changeover to universal credits happens, a think tank has warned.

Cross-party think tank Demos "welcomed" the announcement to scrap the unpopular cuts to tax credits but said large portions of the promised savings to the welfare budget now depend on future universal credit figures.

In a statement, Demos said:

The Chancellor’s welcome decision to shelve plans to cut tax credits will protect working families now, at the expense of the Treasury; but over time, the plan is to move from tax credits (and other benefits) to Universal Credit – entitlements we know, from the Summer Budget, will be subject to cuts.

So it is when families make the transition from one system to another that the real savings will be made.

– Demos


Russian pilot: Turkey issued no warnings before downing

The plane as it crashed into mountains in Syria. Credit: Reutesr

A Russian pilot who survived the downing of his plane said Turkish jets did not issue any warnings beforehand.

Captain Konstantin Murakhtin maintained his aircraft was flying over Syrian territory and did not violate Turkish airspace.

Mr Murakhtin was rescued and is currently at a Russian air base in Syria but his co-pilot was reportedly killed by militants on the ground.

He added that he wants to keep flying missions from the base "to pay them back for my commander".

Russian forces are reportedly unleashing a wave of air strikes on mountains near where the plane was shot down.

Mr Murakhtin said this was proving cover for advancing Syria ground forces and their Lebanese Hezbollah allies.

IS claim responsibility for Tunisia bus bombing

So-called Islamic State have reportedly claimed responsibility for the deadly bus bombing in Tunisia.

14 people were killed and 11 wounded on November 24 after an explosion hit a bus carrying military presidential guards in Tunisia.


Children’s Society: 'Right' to drop tax credit cuts plan

The Chief Executive of The Children’s Society has said that the Chancellor has taken the "right decision" in abandoning his plans to cut tax credits for working families.

Children would have been the biggest losers had these deeply unfair cuts gone ahead and we welcome this reversal.

[But] the Government is planning, through its Welfare Reform and Work Bill, to prevent parents from getting tax credit support for more than two children.

It is also freezing working-age benefits for the next four years, and increasing the number of families hit by the benefit cap.

– Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society

'Social care is still in crisis - some homes will close'

The boss of UK care home company HC-One has told ITV News that social care "remains in crisis", saying he was "very very disappointed" in George Osborne's spending review.

Even with up to £2bn announced for the sector, Glen Mason said the sector would still face a huge gap just in meeting the basic cost of care.

While a plan to increase council tax was a "partial solution", he added, it remained to be seen whether local authorities would pass on those savings to the care sector.

He warned that several care home providers may now start looking at their books and could even shut homes down, as the review did not provide a "real solution".

FMB: House building 'stalling' over skills shortage

The chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders has said that George Osborne needs a "new generation of 'real' builders to make his vision for housing a reality".

We're already seeing housing developments starting to stall because the cost of hiring skilled tradespeople is threatening to make some sites simply unviable.

Unless we see a massive uplift in apprenticeship training in our industry, there won't be enough pairs of hands to deliver more housing on this scale.

– Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders

Police chiefs 'delighted' budgets won't be cut

The National Police Chiefs' Council, which represents the UK's chief police officers, says it is 'delighted' following the Chancellor's announcement ruling out any cuts in police budgets in England and Wales.

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