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Morning news headlines for December 13, 2013

Tougher test for migrants claiming income-related benefits and HS2 'essential for the UK', insist MPs

National News

Migrant benefit claimants face quiz

Migrants are to be questioned about their English language skills and what efforts they have made to find work before being able to claim income-related benefits.

The Government said a "more robust" test is being rolled out at jobcentres across Wales, England and Scotland this week.

In order to pass a habitual residence test, migrants will have to answer more individually tailored questions, provide more detailed answers, and submit more evidence before they will be allowed to make a claim.

Reforms ‘a blow to working poor’

Chancellor George Osborne has introduced "stealth" welfare measures that will leave the poorest worse off, it was claimed today.

Analysis of the Autumn Statement found millions of claimants will be hit by a reduction in the amount they can earn before their Universal Credit payment is withdrawn by 2017.

The Resolution Foundation said official estimates about changes to the much-criticised Universal Credit system that is being introduced will save the Treasury £600 million, with most of the savings coming from a reduction in work allowances - the amount of money a claimant can keep before their benefits begin to be withdrawn.

UK criticised over Syria refugees

The UK has been heavily criticised by a human rights charity for failing to resettle vulnerable Syrian refugees.

Amnesty International said the Government should "hang its head in shame" for not opening its borders to the some of the millions of people displaced by continuing violence in Syria.

The UK is one of a number of EU countries who have offered no resettlement or humanitarian places, Amnesty added.

North Korea executes Kim uncle

North Korea says it has executed Kim Jong Un's uncle, calling the leader's former mentor a traitor who tried to seize power and overthrow the state.

The stunning announcement came days after Jang Song Thaek - long considered the country's second in command - was removed from all his posts because of a long list of allegations, including corruption, drug use, gambling and womanising.

In an unusually detailed announcement, the official news agency KCNA said Jang had been tried for "such hideous crime as attempting to overthrow the state by all sorts of intrigues and despicable methods with a wild ambition to grab the supreme power of our party and state".

New extradition hearing for Dewani

Honeymoon murder suspect Shrien Dewani has a further High Court hearing today in his legal battle against extradition.

In October a panel of three judges, headed by the Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas, ruled there were outstanding legal issues the court must decide.

Dewani is fighting removal to South Africa to face trial over his wife Anni's death until he has recovered from mental health problems, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

No better off under Labour – Poll  

Most voters believe they would be no better off financially under a Labour government, polling has found.

Around a third of voters - 32% - think the Opposition would leave them with less cash in their pockets, while nearly the same amount - 31% - said they would be "much the same as I am today".

A quarter of adults believed they would have more money, the YouGov survey for the Sun found.

HS2 essential for UK, insist MPs

It is "essential for the UK" for the HS2 high-speed rail project to go ahead, a report by MPs said today.

The risks of not going ahead with the project "significantly outweigh the risks of doing so," added the report from the House of Commons Transport Committee.

The committee, chaired by Louise Ellman, Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside, also said serious thought should be given to building the second-phase northern section of the line at the same time as the first phase London-to-Birmingham stretch.

Four in court over ‘match-fix’ case

Four men are due in court today in connection with a National Crime Agency inquiry into alleged football match-fixing.

Michael Boateng and Hakeem Adelakun, who have been sacked by Brighton club Whitehawk FC, are accused of taking part in a conspiracy to defraud bookmakers.

The Conference South players, both 22 and from south London, are due to appear at Birmingham Crown Court on unconditional bail.

 

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