UK

Newspaper review: Childcare voucher plan explored

Papers

The announcement of a government consultation on plans for childcare vouchers is explored in several newspapers.

The Daily Express says George Osborne has responded to criticism by broadening the scheme so that parents who cannot work because they are full-time carers will now also be included.

But the Daily Mail condemns what it calls "another insult to stay-at-home mothers".

It remains angry at the plans to give vouchers to families with two working parents.

The Daily Telegraph says Mr Osborne is risking a new row with families with just one earner after he said he hoped to reward parents "who want to work hard and get on in life".

The news that as many as one million British workers may be on zero-hours contracts is also the subject of concern.

The Daily Mail fears employment conditions which ought to be exceptional are "becoming the norm".

But David Prosser in the Independent warns against joining what it calls "a growing clamour" to ban zero-hours contracts, arguing that their flexibility can be a valuable tool for small businesses pursuing growth.

According to the front page story in the Guardian, several observers believe the contracts may have helped Britain avoid higher levels of unemployment during the downturn.

But elsewhere, the paper's economics editor, Larry Elliott, argues that zero-hours contracts have "an early 19th century feel". He writes "it is as though Britain has returned to an age where the employer had the whip hand".

'Pariah status'

As the United States and UK extend the closures of embassies in the Middle East, the Times reports that nearly 2,000 marines stationed in Italy, Spain and near the Red Sea have been put on a state of heightened alert.

The Independent says US officials are thought to have been tracking the activities of a bomb-maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, who has trained dozens of jihadi fighters in Yemen.

"Enter A Pragmatist", says the Guardian, reporting on the inauguration of the new Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani.

"If a deal is there to be done with Iran, it should be seized," the paper urges.

"Rouhani Pledges to Walk The Path of Detente," is the headline in the Financial Times, which reports that, for the first time since 1979, Tehran invited world leaders to the inauguration ceremony.

Meanwhile, the Independent warns that Zimbabwe could be "plunged back to pariah status" after western nations criticised the re-election of President Mugabe.

The Daily Telegraph says sanctions, which were eased by the EU earlier this year, should be tightened once again.

But the Daily Mail questions whether British "hand-wringing" will do the people of Zimbabwe any good.

How strange, the paper says, that British governments have been quick to intervene in countries like Iraq, where we have few ties while leaving people from a former colony, for whom we have a direct moral responsibility, to their grim fate.

'TV superbrand'

The Times leads with the results of a YouGov survey which suggests that confidence in the economy has seen its biggest monthly leap in this Parliament.

Some 26% of those questioned said they were satisfied with the strength of the economy, up from 14% in June.

But according to the Guardian, figures published by Labour suggest that working people are on average £1,350 worse off in real terms under David Cameron.

The Sun says Labour is right to talk about the cost of living. Whatever the statistics say about a recovery, it doesn't feel like one, the paper declares.

After the announcement that the actor Peter Capaldi is to be the new Doctor Who, many papers reflect on the importance of the programme to the BBC.

The Times says Doctor Who is one of the corporation's five big money-spinning "superbrands", selling to more than 200 territories worldwide.

The Daily Telegraph believes Sunday night's broadcast, shown simultaneously on BBC America, was less a casting announcement, more a global product launch, "an exercise in brand management equivalent to the unveiling of the latest iPhone".

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