Benefit change and George Clooney's 'engagement' - the newspapers
- 28 April 2014
Changes to the way in which the long-term unemployed can claim benefit come under the spotlight of the press.
The Independent brands the new Help To Work scheme - which means claimants must sign on every day unless they agree to do voluntary work or training - as "harsh" and "stringent".
The paper notes the volunteering option has been boycotted by several charities - including Oxfam, who believe "volunteering should be genuinely voluntary".
The Daily Telegraph says the programme, which begins on Monday, will see those who have been claiming for more than three years "scrubbing war memorials, helping to clean historic monuments and working in cafes run by volunteers".
The Daily Express's leader column says the scheme is "a good thing" which will make "jobseekers realise the value of work".
The man whose department is overseeing the change, work minister Iain Duncan Smith, is quoted in The Daily Mail as saying: "The previous system wrote far too many people off, which was a huge waste of potential."
The Financial Times reports on concerns that Britain's relatively poor national productivity figure is caused by a lack of training for low-paid workers.
The paper reports a study by the Social Market Foundation think tank which says providing £2,000 worth of vocational training for adults in low-paid work would be "cost neutral" for the government, and help lower Britain's £21bn tax credits bill.
The naming of the five British servicemen who died in the Lynx helicopter crash in Afghanistan this weekend features prominently.
The Daily Telegraph carries a picture of four of the men on its front page, along with fulsome tributes from family, friends and colleagues.
The papers' leader column calls the deaths "an Afghan tragedy", noting they come "just a few months before combat troops are withdrawn" from the country.
The Times quotes the men's station commander at RAF Odiham, Gp Capt Richard Maddison, who said: "It was an absolute pleasure to fly with them and discuss their work." The team were part of an elite special operations unit , the paper adds.
Initial fears that the helicopter was brought down by Taliban fire seem to have receded, The Guardian says.
The governor of the Afghan province in which the helicopter crashed tells the paper that the area concerned was largely uninhabited and free from insurgents.
The tinderbox situation in the eastern Ukraine makes many papers. The Financial Times puts a picture of a bruised, bloodied and blindfolded man, said to be a Ukrainian special forces soldier captured by pro-Russian militia, on its front page.
The paper also reports on the "race against time" to install the infrastructure so EU-supplied gas can power the Ukraine before all Russian gas is cut off.
The Daily Mail headlines remarks made by Foreign Secretary William Hague that sanctions against Russia are "a price worth paying".
This is despite fears that the measures will hit the EU - and particularly London, where many Russian oligarchs have invested - much harder than it will the US, the Mail adds.
But no sanction let-up can be expected, the Daily Telegraph reports.
The Americans are drawing up fresh restrictions on Moscow's ruling elite and the paper says President Obama said it would be "factually wrong" to assume the US could proceed without European support.
The Independent has interviewed a senior Ukrainian intelligence officer in the restive region who tells the paper of the difficulties of restoring law and order.
Col Yulia (her surname is withheld) told the paper: "We are not sure of the loyalty of local police; Some are for us, others are against us, and some are just waiting to see what happens.
"This, of course, causes a lot of problems."
The unique spectacle of the public canonisation of two deceased popes in the presence of two living ones gains much coverage.
The Daily Star punningly says "millions turn out to see Pope Idols".
The Daily Mail takes a rather less irreligious look at the event, with a two-page spread dominated by a massive aerial shot of almost a million pilgrims flooding into St Peter's Square in the Vatican City to witness the event.
The new saints - Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII - were "giants who both had the human touch" the paper says.
The paper says that among the myriad of nationalities represented at the mass, Polish pilgrims were particularly prominent.
The Poles, who arrived on 50 charter flights, five special trains and 1,700 coaches, held "John Paul II dearer than any other saint", it adds.
Its graph shows that 80 popes in total have now ascended to sainthood - but only nine reached this pinnacle in the last 1,000 years.
The Sun is among the many papers to pinpoint the presence of a man they call a "sinner" at the event, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe who met Pope Francis.
It explains that although Mr Mugabe is banned from the EU, non-Community Vatican State has no such restrictions on his travel.
'Trust and confidence'
The Guardian chooses to lead on an NHS story again. It interviews one of Britain's leading obstetricians who tells the paper that "stretched" maternity facilities could be putting babies lives at risk.
Dr David Richmond says the fact that the UK has the third highest rate of stillbirths in the affluent world is "appalling".
Dr Richmond says "labour wards are under pressure and busy" and it is reasonable to assume that staff could make "small mistakes" that could have tragic outcomes.
Sands - a neonatal death charity - is quoted in the paper as saying more midwives are needed and "a maternity service that works as well at the weekend as it does on weekdays".
Dr Dan Poulter, the health minister, told The Guardian: "The NHS is a safe place to give birth, with women reporting high levels of trust and confidence in the staff".
The Daily Telegraph reports on another NHS concern: A&E admissions. The paper says targets to cut emergency hospital admissions by 15% in two years have led to concerns that patients lives will be put at risk.
Katherine Murphy, of the Patients Association, told the Telegraph: "Reversing demand back to 2004 [levels] within two years is both unrealistic and impractical."