Newspaper headlines: Budget 'gifts', Clarkson fall-out, Vanuatu devastation

The content of next week's Budget is the subject of much speculation in Sunday's newspapers - but almost all agree that when Chancellor George Osborne gets to his feet in the Commons on Wednesday he will effectively be setting out the Conservative case ahead of the general election.

The Observer, Sunday Times and Mail on Sunday say Mr Osborne will confirm recent reports by unveiling plans to give up to five million retired people the right to cash in annuities.

The Mail and Observer both see the move as an attempt to woo older voters, while the Sunday Times describes it as a "pre-election sweetener".

Image copyright AP

However, quoting senior government sources, the Sunday Telegraph says the budget is aiming to create a "truly national recovery", with a package of plans aimed at not only pensioners, but home owners, as well as tax cuts for the lower paid.

The People headlines its story "Budget boost for the North", reporting that Mr Osborne will turn his back on London and south-east England in a bid to broaden Tory electoral appeal, with investment in regional business among the measures.

The Daily Express and Independent on Sunday both opt to highlight the expected go ahead for the HS3 high-speed rail link between Leeds and Manchester.

Writing in the Sun on Sunday, Mr Osborne insists his Budget will not contain "gimmicks or giveaways. It will be a Budget for the long term".

But in the Sunday Mirror, shadow chancellor Ed Balls says Mr Osborne "won't be able to run away from five years of failure and broken promises. No last minute pre-election tax cut can make up for that".

In its leader column, the People says that it fears Mr Osborne "will squander the opportunity" to invest in public spending on major infrastructure projects for a Budget designed solely to win the election.

The Observer's economics editor Heather Stewart assesses the chancellor's record, concluding that while the UK is now growing faster than most other major economies, "many of the old faultlines - between north and south, City and industry, young and old, rich and poor - have only deepened since 2010".

The Sunday Times leader column believes Mr Osborne can "provide the springboard" for the Tories election campaign. It says he will "need to convince voters he can finish the job of fixing public finances without crippling public services... demonstrate that Labour's scare stories on public spending are just that".


Clarkson's cooking

The events surrounding Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson's alleged "fracas" with a BBC producer show no sign of moving away from the front pages.

Image copyright PA

The Daily Star Sunday reports in its lead story that Top Gear test driver The Stig is supporting the online campaign to overturn Clarkson's suspension, but the Daily Express suggests a reported bidding war among UK networks for the presenter if he does not return to the BBC is unlikely to materialise.

The People concentrates on the producer involved in the altercation. Oisin Tymon has not made any official comment about the incident but the paper reports that sources close to his legal team say he has been left "devastated" by the turn of events.

Remarks from an unnamed senior BBC executive about the events and its fall-out appear on the front page of the Mail on Sunday, and the Sun on Sunday claims the incident will be alluded to in the new series of the BBC-set mock documentary W1A.

Clarkson himself uses his column in the Sunday Times to confirm tweets from his daughter that he has taken up cooking while he spends more time at home. There may, or may not, be some cryptic clues about the incident and his future in the description of how he attempted to make pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup.


Eye-catching headlines

"You gotta bro with it" - The Sunday Mirror says Liam Gallagher sparks rumours of an Oasis reunion after healing the rift with his brother Noel by seeing his new band

"Last post for the Ghurkas as Brigade faces Ministry of Defence axe" - The Sunday Express says the Gurkha Brigade is to be targeted under cost-cutting plans drawn up by the Ministry of Defence

"Two-minute silence to mark VE Day" - Plans for a three-day of commemoration of the 70th anniversary of VE Day will pitch politicians into a weekend of public events in the aftermath of the general election, says the Sunday Times

"Fashion's first selfies" - The Independent on Sunday reports a 16th-Century German accountant started the trend for style blogging


Vanishing villages

Photographs of the destruction wreaked by cyclone Pam in the Pacific nation of Vanuatu feature widely.

Image copyright AFP PHOTO / UNICEF Pacific

The Sunday Telegraph is among the papers to note aid workers' description of the "complete annihilation" in capital Port Vila after the cyclone veered off its expected course on Friday.

Dozens of people are feared dead and it is thought the toll will rise sharply as rescuers reach outlying islands.

According to the Observer, Port Vila is considered to be the city most exposed to natural disasters in the world, facing risks from not only cyclones but earthquakes, tsunamis and floods.

The Mail on Sunday picks up on comments left by resident Graham Crumble on Facebook as the storm struck that "anyone not in shelter now is in mortal danger". And it highlights hotel worker John Rex's experience of being inside a "shaking and moving building" - he says all the windows ended up broken and rain and water flooded in.

The most powerful cyclone to hit the Pacific in 30 years left a trail of devastation, says the Sunday Times, noting that many of the makeshift shelters were themselves destroyed .

"Villages vanish as Pam rips across the Pacific," is how the Sunday Times sums up the cyclone's reach.


Not just a day

As Mother's Day takes place in the UK, research that attempts to shine a light on modern family life attracts coverage.

The Observer focuses on a poll of 1,800 parents for the website Mumsnet which suggests more than 90% of mothers feel they take the main responsibility for parenting roles in their household. More than 60% say they would really prefer "to have more fun with their children".

The Sunday Times looks at a survey of 1,000 18-65 year-olds for the Post Office which found socialising between women and their mothers is becoming more prevalent.

"Even a generation ago it would have been unthinkable except, perhaps, as a strictly one-off Mother's Day treat. But many young women now often socialise with their mothers, going to bars, restaurants, concerts and even nightclubs," it has concluded.

Meanwhile, the Independent on Sunday picks up on a study by Interflora that suggests if mothers were paid for their parental labours they would earn as much as £172,000 extra a year. In reaching this pay level calculation, it explains that some of the roles mums take on include housekeeper, part-time lawyer, personal trainer and entertainer.


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