Allegra Stratton, Political editor, Newsnight

Allegra Stratton Political editor, BBC Newsnight

Right now, somewhere in Whitehall or Westminster, politicians are discussing changes that are going to affect your life - I will try to give you a sense of what is being said and why

A pregnant pause

26 November 2013

Newsnight's political editor is currently on maternity leave and this blog will not be updated for a while.

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Plan to divert benefits of troubled families scrapped

26 September 2013
Boy on bike rides past boarded-up shop
The Troubled Families Programme was launched in the wake of the England riots

A plan to put benefits paid to some of Britain's most troubled families under their caseworker's control has been shelved, BBC Newsnight has learned.

The Downing Street Conservative Policy Unit wanted to give managers of the Troubled Families Programme more power to prevent the misuse of payments.

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Conservatives 'considering ways to raise minimum wage'

2 September 2013
Pound coins
In 2012 there were 1.4 million workers earning the national minimum wage

The Conservative party is examining ways to raise the national minimum wage, BBC Newsnight has learned.

Measures being considered include offering tax breaks to companies paying a wage level higher than the current national minimum of £6.19 an hour.

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Tories hire Obama campaign chief Jim Messina

2 August 2013
Jim Messina and President Obama
A fellow presidential aide described Jim Messina as "the most powerful person in Washington you've never heard of"

The Conservative Party has hired Barack Obama's campaign manager Jim Messina for its general election campaign team, BBC Newsnight has learned.

Sources confirmed that he would act as a campaign strategy adviser to the Conservative party.

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Senior politicians unite to issue call for data bill

13 June 2013

Senior politicians from across the political divide have united to call for UK security services to be given greater internet monitoring powers.

In a letter to The Times newspaper three former Labour home secretaries, three senior Tories and one Liberal Democrat urge changes.

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Nick Clegg 'to block childcare ratio reforms'

8 May 2013

Nick Clegg has told Conservatives he will block government reforms to adult-child ratio limits for childcarers, BBC Newsnight has learned.

In meetings over recent days he said he could no longer back the plan to increase the number of children nursery staff and child-minders can look after.

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Is government planning cut to schools budget?

23 April 2013
Children in a classroom
School improvement is a key coalition pledge and the schools budget has been protected

The next comprehensive spending review - where the government decides what public spending it will cut and what it will keep - is due on the 26 June 2013.

It is currently preoccupying Whitehall and as it does we thought there were at least two truths.

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Parents 'to be able reclaim up to £1,200 of childcare costs'

18 March 2013

Parents will be able to claim back up to £1,200 a year - or 20% of childcare costs - from 2015, under plans set to be unveiled by the government.

Parents will be allowed to claim back 20% out of a total of around £6,000 - what they believe to be the average annual price of a childcare place.

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Budget 'sacred cows’ under threat in welfare row

7 March 2013
Older people on bench
Older people's benefits have largely escaped austerity cuts

"A sacred cow is going to get slaughtered, it's just a question of which one," says one senior Whitehall source about the coming welfare cuts.

As the government struggles to make the sums works for the 2015-16 spending review, the welfare budget is moving back to centre stage.

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Could 'hot potato economics' trigger an economic recovery?

23 January 2013
Bank of England

If Sir Mervyn King said the economy would follow a zigzag course over the foreseeable future, the end of last year looks like it was whatever the down bit of a zigzag is called. Let us call it the "zag".

My coalition sources are braced for the gross domestic product (GDP) figures being bad when they are published at the end of the week.

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About Allegra

Allegra has worked in Westminster for a decade. She arrived via an unusual route, studying archaeology and anthropology which took her to banana plantations in east Africa, a monastery high in the Alps and the permafrost of Siberia. She started writing about these projects, and was soon hooked on reporting.

She went on to work for the Times newspaper's war desk in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the BBC - including two years as a producer on Newsnight - and then the Guardian newspaper where she was political correspondent and a columnist.

In 2005 Allegra travelled to the Middle East to report on what was then an underreported phenomenon - how the fact that two-thirds of the population were under the age of 25 was changing politics in the region. She might say she had predicted the Arab Spring, except she didn't. Her resulting book, Muhajababes, was a best-seller in the Middle East.

Allegra's job means she has to turn her hand to any story, but her particular interests are these: how skilled is the UK, how will people make a livelihood now and in years to come and so find a place in the world.

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