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Government to cut BBC budget by £650m

George Osborne has signalled a £650 million raid on the BBC finances Credit: PA

George Osborne is set to cut £650 million from the BBC's budget - the amount the Government currently spends on providing free television licences for the over-75s.

The corporation will have to take on the cost of providing the 4.5 million licences - worth £145.50 per person - the Chancellor suggested on BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show.

"The BBC is also a publicly funded institution and so it does need to make savings and contribute to what we need to do as a country to get our house in order. So we are in discussion with the BBC," he said.

Reports suggested that the BBC would be able to recoup up to £150 million of lost revenue through charging for the use of its iPlayer and other online catch-up services.

He also hinted that the website could be scaled back, saying: "You wouldn't want the BBC to completely crowd out national newspapers. If you look at the BBC website it is a good product but it is becoming a bit more imperial in its ambitions."

Benefit cap outside London will be lower than £23,000

The Chancellor will reveal his budget on Wednesday. Credit: PA

George Osborne has announced the benefit cap outside the capital will be lower than £23,000.

In an interview with BBC's Andrew Marr, he said: "It's not fair that people outside of work can earn more than those in work."

The Tories announced they would be capping London benefits at £23,000 during their election campaign.

Asked how much lower it would be for the rest of the country, the Chancellor said it would be revealed in the budget on Wednesday.

Social housing cash set to 'raise £250m a year'

Council housing in south London. Credit: PA

The extra cash raised from cuts to subsidies for high earners living in social housing will go straight to people living in council properties.

As much as £250 million a year by 2018-19 could be raised towards reducing the country's debt burden.

Expectations are that Chancellor George Osborne will argue that 9% of all social tenants in England are now on higher incomes while enjoying the benefit of an average £3,500-a-year per household in reduced rent.

They include over 40,000 with annual household incomes in excess of £50,000 and a further 300,000 with incomes over £30,000.

The move builds on measures introduced under the coalition that enabled housing associations and local authorities to charge market rents to those on incomes of more than £60,000.


Osborne looks set to cut social housing cash

Chancellor George Osborne is cracking down on housing subsidies Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Chancellor George Osborne looks set to cut the amount of social housing cash available to council and housing association tenants, according to reports.

Osborne is expected to use his summer Budget to clampdown on taxpayer-funded subsidies for social housing tenants who earn more than £30,000 per household, or £40,000 in London, meaning they will have to pay a market or near market rent in future.

Currently the earnings cap at which housing associations and local authorities are able to charge tenants market rents is £60,000.

The housing subsidy cut is expected to affect 9 % of people in England who currently rent at lower than market rents and is hoped to help the government raise an extra £50 million a year by 2018-19.

Public Accounts Committee: PIP failures are 'shocking'

The cross-party Commons Public Accounts Committee has accused Atos of providing "incorrect and potentially misleading" information about its capabilities when tendering to carry out claim assessments for the Government for the PIP scheme.

The firm has since agreed to end its contract early.

The DWP has let down some of the most vulnerable people in our society, many of whom have had to wait more than six months for their claims to be decided.

The personal stories we heard were shocking... a claimant requiring hospital intervention as a result of the stress caused by the delays suffered, and another claimant who was unable to afford the specific diet required for diabetes and gastric problems while waiting for a decision.

Some claimants have been forced to turn to food banks, loans and charitable donations to support the extra costs of living associated with their disability.

– PAC chair Margaret Hodge

MPs expressed alarm that the average waiting time for terminally ill people to receive a decision was 28 days, 180% longer than originally expected.

The standard of service for claimants had been "unacceptable", with assessors cancelling home visits at the last minute, and failing to turn up after individuals travelled to assessment centres.

MPs: Personal Independence Payment scheme a 'fiasco'

MPs have warned that a flagship government welfare scheme is a "fiasco" that has caused unnecessary distress to thousands of sick and disabled people.

The influential Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said implementation of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) had been "rushed" and described the impact as "shocking".

Margaret Hodge MP chairs the Commons Public Accounts Committee. Credit: PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Terminally ill people have been waiting an average of a month to be awarded the benefit, which was introduced last year to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

Other claims were delayed more than six months, with some individuals taken to hospital due to the stress of the process and unable to afford medically-prescribed diets.

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