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Three arrests at anti-austerity protest near Whitehall

The anti-austerity demonstration took place to coincide with the Queen's Speech. Credit: Hannah McKay / PA Wire/PA Images

Scotland Yard said three arrests had been made before 7pm in relation to the anti-austerity demonstration which took place to coincide with the Queen's Speech and the State Opening of Parliament.

A 17-year-old youth was arrested on suspicion of assault.

A man, whose age has not been given, was arrested on suspicion of violent disorder and possession of an offensive weapon.

Police also arrested a 45-year-old man who was wanted on suspicion of violent disorder in relation to an incident in Whitehall on May 9th.

Thousands march in Madrid ahead of election

Tens of thousands of people have flooded the centre of Madrid in a rally for the far-left party Podemos, a party formed just a year ago which is currently topping opinion polls in the run up to local, regional and national elections this year.

People are fed up with the political class

– Pensioner, speaking to Reuters
Central Madrid has been flooded with tens of thousands of anti-austerity protests. Credit: Reuters

Last week, Alexis Tsipras swept into victory on a wave of anti-austerity anger in Greece. He said he hoped voters across Europe would be inspired by Greece to break the "vicious cycle of austerity". Speaking shortly after his election he said:

First we talk Athens, then we take Madrid.

– Alexis Tsipras

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Thousands of anti-austerity protesters rally in Madrid

Tens of thousands of people turned out to take part in a march organised by Spain's anti-austerity party Podemos today.

Chanting "yes we can" and "tic tac tic tac" the gathered protesters were supporting Podemos' call for political change in light of the country's struggling economy.

The Podemos march Credit: Reuters
The crowds were calling for political change Credit: Reuters

'Five more years of cuts' warns outgoing civil service head

The UK could face five more years of spending cuts and austerity, regardless of which political party is in power, the outgoing head of the the civil service has said.

Sir Bob Kerslake, who stepped down as head of the home civil service as part of a Whitehall shake-up ordered by David Cameron in July, made the comments in a speech to the Institute for Government think-tank in which he reiterated the need for reform.

Suffice it to say that under any government, we face up to a further five years of austerity in public sector spending.

The first five years have been challenging but the second five years are likely to prove even harder for three reasons.

Firstly, the easier savings have already been made. Secondly, we are likely to be doing it against a background of a growing economy and greater competition for good staff.

Thirdly, the sense of urgency that underpinned the first savings programme will be reduced.

– Sir Bob Kerslake

Poll: Voters think austerity has failed

A majority of the public believe the Government's austerity plan has failed, according to a new poll.

Chancellor George Osborne. Credit: PA

According to the ComRes Survey for The Independent, 58% of people agree the Government's economic plan has failed, while only 31% disagree.

But only slightly more people support Labour's "time for change" message rather than any promise from the Conservatives to continue with their plan to reinvigorate the British economy after the next general election in 2015.

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Government: 'Local authorities protected from spending reductions'

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said councils "have been protected from further spending reductions" over the course of next year.

Local Authorities have been protected from further spending reductions for 2013-14, where the average spending power reduction is just 1.7%.

Government is helping councils grow their local economies through bespoke city deals, over £650 million New Homes Bonus, 24 Enterprise Zones and £770 million in Growing Places Funding.

In addition the Government is offering a £450 million third year's council tax freeze - potentially worth over £200 to Band D residents.

However, councils still account for a quarter of all public spending - £114 billion - so it is vital they continue to play their part tackling the inherited budget deficit by making all of the 50 sensible savings Ministers recommend, such as better procurement, greater transparency, using reserves more creatively and sharing back offices.

– Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman

Local government 'bears the brunt' of cuts

Today's local government settlement confirms that local government will continue to bear the brunt of public sector cuts.

The cut of up to 8.8% provides no comfort for the next 12 months and, when added to further cuts in 2014/15, will present significant challenges at a time when local government should be focused on economic growth. This settlement is late and the uncertainty and speculation has only made a critical situation worse.

Budget constraints measured in the billions, particularly at a time of rising demand, will require strategic, not tactical, solutions.

Greater powers for local government to impact economic growth, to integrate and share across public services and greater recognition of the impact of welfare changes on local services would also help to support councils minimise the impact on the vulnerable through these challenging times.

Nevertheless, this settlement will increase the risk of more councils being financially unviable and focus needs to be given to how this market failure is managed. Very difficult local choices will now need to be made and local government should have the freedom to make these choices, even when setting council tax.

– Joanna Killian, Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers
  1. Debi Edward - ITV News Scotland Correspondent

Parents warn Government 'lay off our kids' over cuts

At the Nunsmoore centre in Newcastle, which provides child care support for children and parents from 0-12, there is a strong warning to the government to 'lay off our kids'

One mother Kerry Heron said;

"the cuts to local government are disgusting. My eldest will be without a play service next year thanks to these measures and I'm scared about what impact it's going to have on him - with almost all the libraries closing and the local pool too, where are our kids supposed to go?

"This is just going to lead to more antisocial behaviour and I worry what kind of future there is for my kids."

In Newcastle they are planning to start cutting back on not just discretionary services but statutory ones too.

The provision of child care support is among those being hardest hit.

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