The row over welfare cuts hit a new low as the Tories and Labour traded figures ahead of a Commons vote on plans to impose a real-terms benefits cut.
Iain Duncan Smith, Work and Pensions Secretary, said the numbers showed "many working-age benefits" had risen by 20 per cent since 2007, outstripping a 12 per cent rise in private sector pay.
In defending the squeeze announced by Chancellor George Osborne last month, he said the increases cost the taxpayer £6.3 billion.
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Temperatures will be on the rise in the next few days, with highs of 25C in the sunshine by Thursday, but do not expect clear blue skies.