Newspaper review: Papers focus on benefit cuts and caps


The issue of benefit caps and cuts is debated in many of the morning papers.

The Times leads with the suggestion that the £26,000 limit which was rolled out across most of the UK on Monday could be lowered after the next election.

It reports on calls from Tory backbenchers for a lowering of the cap to £20,000.

The Daily Mail headline says there could soon be a ban on receiving child benefit for more than two children in families where the parents are unemployed.

But the Daily Mirror quotes one Labour MP calling the Conservative ideas Dickensian.

The Independent says a right-wing agenda drawn up by Tories holding marginal seats has been approved by the prime minister, and that it includes further benefit curbs on teenage mothers and the under-25s.

'Victory for decency'

Staying with politics, an ICM opinion poll for the Guardian puts the Tories level with Labour for the first time in nearly 18 months.

The paper thinks that Labour will be alarmed by the findings, while the Daily Telegraph says it could mark the start of a turnaround. Both papers put the surge down to a drop in support for UKIP.

Monday's report on the ending of a system of care for terminally ill patients - the Liverpool Care Pathway - brings hope of future improvements.

The Daily Telegraph says that while the execution of the plan was often horrifically flawed, its intentions were noble.

According to the Daily Mail, the report is a victory for decency in end-of-life care, and over the adage that doctors know best.

The most cautious reaction comes from the Times which says the failings of the Pathway add to an emerging sense that the standard of nursing care is unacceptably poor.

There is a warning in the Daily Telegraph from a number of former defence ministers and military leaders that downgrading Britain's Trident nuclear deterrent would risk national security.

The Guardian, meanwhile, says there is new pressure on the Ministry of Defence after it emerged that the two army reservists who died in an SAS selection process in the Brecon Beacons were both experienced soldiers.

But the Times quotes an army source saying there was nobody "shouting at the men from the sidelines... You are motivating yourself".

Mumbling actors

The hot weather is still a big feature for the Daily Express.

It says the heatwave will last all summer, with some forecasters predicting the longest hot spell in history.

The Daily Mail carries aerial pictures of parks and gardens in London that have been "scorched" in the sun.

And the Independent is worried that Britons are putting their heads in the sand over the risks.

It says experts are warning extreme summer heat is set to become the norm and the UK needs to be better prepared.

Finally, the new director general of the BBC, Lord Hall, has struck a chord with a pledge to deal with "mumbling actors".

The Daily Mirror says programmes such as Birdsong, Parade's End and Doctor Who were guilty of what it calls "mutter rubbish".

At last, someone has spoken up", says the Times, after Lord Hall also agreed to look into one of the traditional bugbears of viewers, who feel that scripts are often swallowed up by music and background sound.

And the Daily Express does not miss the fact that Lord Hall used to be the boss of the Royal Opera House. "After all," says the paper, "nobody ever declared that the show isn't over until the fat lady mumbles".

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