Osborne's IMF 'dig', family tax 'blow', and tributes to Sue Townsend and Adrian Mole

The state of the UK's economic recovery provokes debate in the papers after the chancellor hailed the government's handling of the country's finances in a speech to a think tank in Washington.

The Times says Mr Osborne delivered a "blunt rebuke" to the International Monetary Fund, a year after the organisation urged him to the change his economic course.

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The Guardian says the "optimistic speech" contrasts with concerns that the UK will continue to be buffeted by the aftershocks of the financial crisis. Although Labour has described his comments as hollow rhetoric after four years of falling living standards, Mr Osborne is predicting well-paid jobs in new industries will emerge, it notes.

According to the Daily Express, the "doom-mongers had it wrong about the economy". Mr Osborne, who admitted risks remain, "stands totally vindicated" and has been an "outstanding" chancellor, it says.

But for the Independent, "Mr Osborne's claims of success look grossly premature". His speech "seriously distorts the arguments of his critics", it adds in an editorial. "The economic cycle might have well have turned sooner if he had chosen a more flexible route to balancing the nation's books."

The Financial Times says the chancellor "could not resist delivering a homily against critics of his austerity policies" although he "could perhaps be excused his little dig" as the IMF now expects the UK to be among the fastest-growing developed economies. But the FT says the "preconditions for a sustained upturn are not yet in place... maintaining a prudent fiscal outlook is essential".

'Cost effective investigations'

The chancellor's plans to change the law to make it easier to prosecute people who evade tax by hiding money in offshore bank accounts are also highlighted. They come amid what the Times notes was "pressure on government to collect more tax".

The Daily Mail points out that the measure "goes well beyond" an announcement in last month's Budget and could help recoup some of the £15bn in in personal tax and national insurance that goes uncollected each year.

"Super-rich people who live in Britain but hide their money away in foreign bank accounts" are the target of the measures, reports the Independent.

The story leads the Financial Times - which reports the new powers signal a break with HM Revenue & Customs policy of relying on "cost effective" civil investigations while only using criminal prosecutions in extreme cases or where it would act as a deterrent.

Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail say figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development suggest that families with stay-at-home parents are the only group in the UK shouldering a heavier tax burden than the international average.

Laura Perrins of the Mothers at Home Matter campaign group tells the Telegraph the tax system is "unfair" and "discriminatory" while the Mail describes the average £159 a year such families are said to be paying in extra deductions as evidence of the extent to which they are "penalised".

And another financial battle is highlighted in the Guardian which reports that supermarkets and other retailers may have to pay millions of pounds in higher wages if equal pay claims being brought by 400 mainly female workers are successful. The paper reports the cases against Asda are a "major test" of equal job evaluation in the private sector - although the supermarket giant says it does not discriminate and pays a "fair market rate".

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Image caption Photographs of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge racing each other on America's Cup yachts during their tour of New Zealand are widely featured

'One rule for us'

Record numbers of families will face disappointment when primary school places are allocated next week following a steep rise in applicants, according to reports in several papers.

More than a fifth of children in the worst affected parts of England are expected to miss out on their parents' first choice of school as pressure on spaces continues to rise owing to the increasing birth rate, says the Guardian.

And the Daily Telegraph carries warnings from an education consultant that the admissions process risks descending into "chaos".

Figures from the Local Government Association are cited in the Daily Mail as evidence that an extra 130,000 primary school places are needed within three years. It says this is also partly due to the impact of immigration and fewer parents sending their children to private school.

Worries of another set of primary school parents are reported in several papers after a Leicester head teacher was allowed to take a month off in term time to get married.

The Daily Mirror reports governors at Little Hill primary granted acting head Vina Pankhania unpaid leave between April 28 - the first day after the Easter holidays - and May 23, three days before half-term holidays begin, because she "had worked extremely hard".

Ms Pankhania has spent two years at school which was judged outstanding by Ofsted at its last inspection and school governors quoted in the Daily Express say teaching will not be disrupted and the majority of parents have not expressed any concerns.

The school wrote to parents to tell them that the acting deputy head would be in charge.

But the Times says some parents have criticised the decision, pointing out they face fines for taking children out of school in term time.

Tragicomic giant

There are numerous tributes to the novelist Sue Townsend - and her angst-ridden teenage diarist creation Adrian Mole.

Townsend passed away at her Leicester home at the age of 68 after a short illness and the Independent says it was marked by a "huge outpouring of warmth and sympathy for a writer who created one of the great tragicomic characters of the modern age".

The eight instalments in the series beginning with the Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 3/4 in 1982 brought Townsend literary recognition, global success and hitherto unknown wealth but she never forgot what it was like to be poor, says the Daily Express.

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In the Daily Telegraph, Sameer Rahim says Adrian Mole was an "indelible part" of the childhoods of thousands of people growing up in the 1980s and 1990s. "Some modern teenagers might worship sulky, self-absorbed vampires or wizards who triumph against evil. But give me Adrian Mole over Harry Potter any day. He is a boy just like any of us."

And in an editorial, the Sun says Townsend's ability to write with "both wit and wisdom about the trials of teenage life made the world seem a brighter, friendlier place".

The feature writers also have fun imagining what a present-day Adrian Mole would be like. The Sun creates a mock Facebook profile - "no messages for two days" - and Alice Jones in the Independent ponders "an austerity-era" Adrian Mole.

All may be about to revealed, however - the Times is among the papers to note that Townsend was working on a new Adrian Mole novel when she died.

Her publisher tells the Daily Telegraph she was sent "a few wonderful pages" earlier this year. But the paper reports that it is not yet known if a first draft had been completed. and it will be up to her family to decide what, if anything, will ultimately be published.

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