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Cameron to use welfare cuts to fund millions of new apprenticeships

Prime Minister David Cameron. Credit: PA Wire

Prime Minister David Cameron is to pledge to end youth unemployment in the next Parliament by using money saved by welfare cuts to fund three million new apprenticeships.

The proposals to be announced today will see the benefits cap lowered from £26,000 to £23,000 and cuts to welfare payments for 18-21-year-olds.

Some 70,000 households will be affected by the plans, around 40,000 of which would be hit for the first time, according to the Conservatives' figures.

The money will be used to fund three million new apprenticeships, with leading businesses including Microsoft, Ford, Airbus and Nestle, by 2020.

Cameron said the plan to invest an extra £1bn in apprenticeships would help young people "make something of themselves".


Prince Harry in drive to get schools playing more rugby

Prince Harry is a keen rugby union fan Credit: PA Wire

Prince Harry will attend a rugby festival today as part of a campaign to encourage more schools to play the sport.

The keen rugby union fan will join youngsters at Eccles RFC in Salford, Greater Manchester, for an afternoon of coaching and playing the sport.

He will take part in a training session, alongside England Rugby community coaching staff, for local teachers working to become rugby coaches for their schools.

He will also meet student volunteers before helping them run a rugby festival for other younger children from the local area.

Prince Harry is patron of England Rugby's All Schools Programme, developed by England Rugby, to increase the amount of rugby played in state secondary schools, and to encourage new players to join local clubs.

It aims to promote the idea that rugby union is a game everyone can play and every school can teach.

Concerns over mental health care for new mothers

Reports raises concerns over maternity mental health costs. Credit: PA Wire

The cost of mental health problems among pregnant women and shortly after birth runs into billions, according to a new report.

The report by the London School of Economics and Centre for Mental Health says treatment is "patchy" and that the cost is more than £8 billion a year.

It recommends spending £337m a year would improve the care for mothers during pregnancy and the first year after childbirth.

The report, due to be launched in Parliament, is part of the "Everyone's Business" campaign led by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) and funded by Comic Relief.

It states that nearly three quarters of the costs of treating depression, anxiety and psychosis relate to impacts on the child rather than the mother.

Dealing with the problems costs the NHS around £1.2 billion, the report said, with other costs including loss of earnings.

Around half of the cases of depression and anxiety during the perinatal period are not detected, it states.

US aircraft drop weapons and medical supplies into Kobani

US military aircraft have dropped supplies on Kobani. Credit: Reuters

Weapons, ammunition and medical supplies for Kurdish forces fighting Islamic State militants were dropped from US military aircraft near the Syrian border town of Kobani on Sunday night, the US military said.

In multiple airdrops, US Air Force C-130 aircraft "delivered weapons, ammunition and medical supplies that were provided by Kurdish authorities in Iraq and intended to enable continued resistance against ISIL's attempts to overtake Kobani," US Central Command said.

It added that 135 US air strikes near Kobani in recent days, combined with continued resistance against IS on the ground, had slowed the group's advances into the town and killed hundreds of its fighters.

"However, the security situation in Kobani remains fragile as ISIL continues to threaten the city and Kurdish forces continue to resist," the statement said.

It mentioned no new air strikes.

Half of fire-hit Didcot B power plant still operating

Neil Scott, station manager at Didcot B power plant. Credit: ITV News

The cause of the fire at Didcot B power station is not yet known, the plant's station manager said.

Neil Scott said investigations would be carried out over the next few weeks into what was behind the blaze.

He said they did not yet know the full extent of the damage but that part of the plant is continuing to operate and that there would be no power outages.

"Half of the plant is running normally. Over these next few days and i'm pretty confident by the end of the week we'll have this plant back up and running".


Radiographers to go on strike over pay row

A medical expert examines an X-Ray Credit: PA Wire

Radiographers are to strike across the UK today in the latest industrial action over the government's decision to deny NHS staff a 1% pay rise.

Members of the Society of Radiographers will walk out for four hours from 9am and will work to rule for the rest of the week.

It comes after midwives walked out for the first time ever last week.

Radiology departments and cancer treatment centres will be affected by the strike, with appointments likely to be cancelled, although emergency and urgent care will continue to be provided.

Richard Evans, the society's chief executive officer, said: "Radiographers who work in the NHS in the four countries of the UK will take part in the action.

"This is the first time since 1982 that radiographers have gone on strike over pay and there is the possibility of more action in the future. The anger that they and other NHS workers feel is very strong.

"The last thing that radiographers want is to hurt the people that they serve. Steps have been taken to minimise the impact on patients. This disagreement between NHS staff and the government has been going on for a long time and radiographers have lost patience with an employer that they feel does not value the hard work that they do."

Read more: Hundreds of thousands of NHS staff walk out in pay strike

Poll: 'Only one in four trust their MP'

Houses of Parliament Credit: PA Wire

Just one in four people trust their MP to represent them in Parliament, according to a new poll.

Pressure group 38 Degrees warned public trust in politicians had reached "crisis point" after a YouGov poll of 1,600 people showed just 24% trusted their MP.

The group is calling for changes to the Government's Recall of MPs Bill, which is due before the Commons on Tuesday.

David Babbs, executive director of 38 Degrees, said: "These figures are proof that the public's trust in politicians has reached crisis point. MPs don't just speak a different language - they're on a different planet to the rest of us.

"Ordinary people haven't stopped caring about the way the country runs, but faith in tribal Westminster politics is crumbling. Giving voters the power to get rid of bad apple MPs would be the first step towards restoring people's faith in politics.

"This vote will be the acid test of whether MPs trust their constituents - or whether they want to keep real power locked within Westminster."

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