Coronavirus: New universal credit claims point to economic need

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More than the population of Leeds, more than the population of Glasgow, more than double the population of Bristol.

In the last fortnight, more than 900,000 - more than the number of people who live in some of our great British cities - have signed up to receive universal credit.

That's more than nine times the normal number of people who might register on the system to help them through a rough patch when they lose some income, or to top it up if they are earning less than they need to live on.

The numbers on Universal Credit do not, at any time, match exactly with the number of people who can't find any work.

The levels of payment vary according to circumstances. And it's worth remembering, in fact, that the benefit, which had a troubled start, was designed specifically to try to make work pay.

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Coronavirus: Lack of testing becomes political problem

Lab technicians handle suspected COVID-19 samples as they carry out a diagnostic test for coronavirus in the microbiology laboratory inside the Specialist Virology Centre at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff. Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Staff at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff carrying out a diagnostic test for coronavirus earlier this month

Why does the government appear to be in such a mess over testing for the coronavirus?

It's a simple question. The consequences of the delays are clear.

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Coronavirus: PM's diagnosis still came as a shock

Boris Johnson Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Boris Johnson made a statement about his condition on social media

Maybe it was inevitable.

One of the first moments that raised eyebrows in the course of the UK outbreak was when health minister Nadine Dorries came down with coronavirus.

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Labour leadership: Departing Corbyn believes he won the fight

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Media captionJeremy Corbyn said he had made mistakes during his leadership

It is a matter of days before Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of Labour is over.

There is no question that he changed the party. Many thousands of people joined. Its policy platform moved to the left.

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Coronavirus: Parliament to shut up shop for time being

House of Commons during debate on emergency legislation Image copyright UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

It seems like another era.

A few weeks ago a Cabinet minister told me very firmly there was no way that Parliament could shut up shop because of the coronavirus.

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Coronavirus: Emergency touches every part of UK life

Woman watching Boris Johnson on television Image copyright AFP
Image caption The prime minister's announcement has no comparison in our recent history

Wuhan is more than 5,000 miles away.

But from tonight, the virus that spread from that part of China affects every individual, every family, every household, every business in the country - and it couldn't be closer to home.

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Coronavirus: UK's already huge changes may just be the start

The UK's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance at the daily coronavirus news conference Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Boris Johnson has already announced dramatic changes to try to tackle the virus

Things have changed in just a few days in ways that would normally take years to evolve.

Whitehall had been monitoring and fearing the arrival of the coronavirus on these shores for many weeks.

Read full article Coronavirus: UK's already huge changes may just be the start

Coronavirus: Holes remain in government's bold plans

Rishi Sunak Image copyright Matt Dunham/EPA
Image caption Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a package of financial measures to support the economy on Tuesday

As we discussed earlier, the government had to act credibly, and act fast.

There is no question that offering to pump more than £300bn into the economy to protect it from the worst is a very serious move - the lion's share government backed loans, with around £20bn of grants and tax cuts too.

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Coronavirus: Government knows it must act fast and credibly

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"The government is about to involve itself in the lives of millions of people in ways we haven't seen since the war," one senior figure in government said after Cabinet this morning.

You can only imagine the mood around the table as ministers absorb the scale of what we face as a country and the scale of the responsibility they hold.

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Budget 2020: The chancellor's very large cheque book

Chancellor Rishi Sunak Image copyright Getty Images

He started looking a little bit like the nervous new boy.

Rishi Sunak has barely been in one of the biggest jobs in the country for a month.

Read full article Budget 2020: The chancellor's very large cheque book