After being on a back burner for several months, David Cameron and Nick have announced that they are going to sign a new coalition agreement in an attempt to heal the rift between Tories and Lib Dems over House of Lords reform and to bind the two parties together until the 2015 election. The Coalition 2.0 document, which will be published in November or December, will contain new policies on pensions and social care, as well as a progress report on measures in the original coalition agreement of May 2010. P.2 of The Independent on Sunday.
Thatched houses have always occupied a niche in the housing market, but Move with Us, an online estate-agency network, reports that almost all of the two dozen agents that it surveyed across England had witnessed a decline in the number of thatched houses and cottages selling since 2007. Three-quarters of those polled also said that such properties were taking longer to sell than before the credit crunch, compared with other times of homes. P.4 of The Sunday Times.
Wonga.com has been facing widespread criticism over its interest rates, allegedly heavy-handed debt collection methods and, most recently, its £24million shirt sponsorship deal with Newcastle United Football club, which some say will tempt impressionable young fans to go into debt. But now, Wonga.com is facing new concerns over evidence it has allowed children to borrow cash, getting themselves, their family and friends into debt, because its checks to prevent them applying are inadequate. P.17 of The Sunday Telegraph.
Universities should take millions of pounds from bursaries and tuition fee discounts for poorer students and put it into helping schools prepare pupils for higher education, a new report says. A study by Alan Milburn, the government’s social mobility czar, will raise concerns that universities are wasting the money they spend on attempting to attract students from low-income homes. Milburn, a former Labour cabinet minister, argues that poor GCSE and A-Level results rather than high tuition fees are the reason poor students are less likely to go to university than those from privileged backgrounds. P.2 of The Sunday Times.
Universities are scrapping traditional interviews over concerns that they favour applicants from middle-class families and independent schools. The change follows claims that the usual format, where candidates are questioned by a panel of academics, gives an advantage to confident and articulate pupils who have been coached in how to respond. Instead, interviews are being replayed by a “speed dating”-style process, where each candidate undergoes a series of brief one-to-one “mini-interviews”, solving problems and taking part in role plays. P.12 of The Sunday Telegraph.