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  1. National

Labour: Universal Credit has become a shambles

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves claims the Universal Credit programme has become "a shambles".

She said Labour would pause the programme for three months to see if it can be "rescued".

Iain Duncan Smith earlier admitted there had been mistakes in the roll-out of the flagship benefits changes, which he said should be complete by 2019, rather than his original target of 2017.

The latest figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show just 17,850 people are claiming Universal Credit - less than 1% of the million people Iain Duncan Smith said would be on the new benefit in April 2014," said Ms Reeves.

Labour wants Universal Credit to succeed but the Government's mishandling of the programme has led to huge waste and delays with over £130 million of taxpayers' money wasted on failed IT. It's another example of Tory welfare waste.

– Rachel Reeves
  1. Daniel Hewitt - Political Reporter

Bury North MP denies UKIP defection rumours

David Nuttall, Bury North MP, with the Prime Minister David Cameron Credit: The Conservative Party

Conservative MP David Nuttall insists he is not about to defect to UKIP.

The Bury North MP has been tipped as one of the favourites to join Nigel Farage's party following Mark Reckless' by-election victory in Rochester and Strood last week.

Mr Nuttall is chair of anti-EU group Better Off Out and has spoken openly about his agreement with elements of UKIP policy on Britain's membership of the European Union.

But today Mr Nuttall told me he has not met with any representative of UKIP to discuss a move, 'no lunches or anything like that', and says he has no intentions of following Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless in defecting.

He added that, despite his continued insistence, 'no one will truly believe me' because of the continued denials made by Carswell and Reckless when they were Tory MPs.

Mr Nuttall also praised the Prime Minister David Cameron for allowing Eurosceptic Tories to openly campaign against UK membership of the EU, and said 'it was good for democracy' that MPs within his party disagree on big issues like Europe.

Asked whether he would ever join UKIP, he said 'you can never say never in politics' but added he wouldn't rule out joining 'Labour or the Greens' either.

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  1. National

Leaders Live policy video: Health

YouTuber Leena (aka justkissmyfrog) believes a basic health service is "a given for any society claiming to be civilised."

In her policy video for Leaders Live, she worries that privatisation of the NHS will lead to "survival of the richest" and pledges to grill political leaders on why "even scraping the top of NHS funding ever even entered their minds".

What will you ask political leaders when they tackle young people's questions in a series of live streamed Q&As on YouTube?

  1. Daniel Hewitt - Political Reporter

No agreement reached over elected 'Mayor for Merseyside'

Barrie Gronewald says no agreement has been reached over the idea of an elected Mayor for Merseyside Credit: St Helens Council

Despite reports that six Merseyside councils have agreed to a directly elected mayor for the region, St Helens council have told me they have not signed up to that proposal.

Council leader Barrie Gronewald says it has 'only agreed to open discussions' on the issue of devolved powers to the Liverpool region and 'many governance models will be examined'.

He says he will go into the discussions with an 'open mind' but said the proposal for a directly elected for Merseyside had not been agreed. Cllr Gronewald said "one size doesn't fit all".

Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens, Halton, Wirral and Knowsley councils have agreed to begin negotiations with central government over devolving more powers to the region.

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson has previously expressed his enthusiasm for the idea of a directly-elected mayor for the whole of Merseyside.

Liverpool makes bid for more devolved powers

Members of Liverpool City Region’s Combined Authority have agreed to call on the government to start immediate discussions for the devolution of significant powers to the region. The 5 Council Leaders, Mayor of Liverpool and the Chair of the LEP met with Lord Heseltine and Lord Adonis in Liverpool yesterday to discuss devolution, following the recent announcements of progress in Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield.

The group agreed to approach central government as a matter of urgency with the intention of beginning discussions on devolving powers to the region.

Liverpool skyline at night Credit: @amsterdam

This meeting was very constructive. Agreement was reached between me, the other Leaders of the constituent local authorities, the Mayor of Liverpool and the Chair of the LEP to approach Government and ask for the kind of rapid progress towards devolution that we have seen for Manchester, and that is beginning to take shape in other northern regions.

Momentum is gathering for City Region devolution, and we are agreed that Liverpool and our City Region needs to be at the forefront of the debate

– Councillor Phil Davies, Chair of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority

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Claim of "huge rise" in cancelled operations

Credit: PA

Labour says there's been a huge increase in the number of operations in the region cancelled on the day.

They claim that in the Greater Manchester area it's increased by 45% compared to the same period last year.

And they say on Merseyside there's been a 30% increase.

Thousands of patients face the indignity of having an operation cancelled at the very last minute.

Meanwhile it’s getting harder to see your GP and A&Es are struggling more than at any point for a decade too."

– Andy Burnham MP, Labour's Shadow Health Secretary.
  1. National

Labour MP: 'I am worried Wanless was set up to fail'

NSPCC chief Peter Wanless may have "been set up to fail" because he has only had six weeks to investigate what happened to crucial documents in an alleged child sex abuse scandal which have been "lost or destroyed".

Simon Danczuk told Good Morning Britain: "I've talked to experts who carry out these types of reviews using digital technology who say you would need about six months to go through 20 years of documents."

Report into child abuse claims - statement from Home Office this morning

Home Sec Theresa May Credit: PA

A report into how police handled sex abuse claims in the 1980's is expected to reveal it's failed to find the missing documents that prompted the inquiry

The report centres on concerns the authorities did not act on information passed to them by the then Littleborough and Saddleworth MP Geoffrey Dickens about a possible paedophile ring in Westminster.

The Home Office had previously said the so-called Dickens dossier had been destroyed. A statement is expected from the Home Office at 9.30 this morning

  1. Daniel Hewitt, Granada Reports

Exclusive: Geoffrey Dickens feared his child abuse investigation would "die with him"

It's emerged that a North West MP who was trying to expose an alleged paedophile ring at the heart of the British Establishment feared his campaign would die with him.

Geoffrey Dickens, who was MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth until his death in 1995, was seriously ill when he confided to a friend that he had compiled a dossier naming several high profile suspects.

Our Political Reporter Daniel Hewitt has the story:

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