Morning Headlines: Thursday 7th November

Sunrise in central London
Sunrise in central London

UK 'pays highest property taxes'

British people pay the highest levels of property taxes in the developed world and more than twice the average for the 34 rich countries in the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development, according to a think-tank report.

The right-of-centre Policy Exchange said politicians should reject new levies on property - such as the "mansion tax" on residences worth over £2 million favoured by Liberal Democrats and Labour - and instead pledge to bring down housing costs by building 1.5 million new homes by the end of the decade.

The report called for at least one new "garden city" and changes to planning rules to deliver 300,000 new houses a year.

Universal Credit 'has wasted £140m'

The Government's flagship benefit reform has been savaged by MPs for "shocking" failures that have already wasted at least £140 million.

The Universal Credit scheme has been blighted by "alarmingly weak" management, with secretaries allowed to authorise purchase orders worth more than £20 million. In some cases it is unclear what suppliers have been paid for.

The cross-party Public Accounts Committee also voiced doubts about whether the project can still be fully delivered by 2017 - branding a pilot "inadequate" and open to fraud.

Spymasters face televised grilling

Britain's spymasters are facing an unprecedented televised grilling at the hands of MPs.

For the first time the heads of the Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, the Security Service, MI5, and the electronic eavesdropping agency, GCHQ, will today line up together to give evidence in public to the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee.

Sir John Sawers, the chief of MI6, Andrew Parker, the director general of MI5, and Sir Iain Lobban, the director of GCHQ, will take a rare step out of the shadows to answer questions about the work of their organisations.

Town halls plan council tax rise

Almost a third of town halls are planning to increase council tax next year as they struggle with funding cuts and increased demand for services, a survey has found.

Research by the Local Government Chronicle (LGC) suggests that 75% of county councils will bring in the increase, despite financial incentives from the Government to freeze increases.

The LGC said more councils than ever intend to reject the Government's funding, which is equivalent to a 1% increased in council tax.

Brits 'throw away six meals a week'

The average UK household throws away the equivalent of six meals every week, costing almost £60 a month, a study has found.

The waste costs the UK £12.5 billion a year despite a significant drive to reduce the problem, a report by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap) said.

The equivalent of 24 million slices of bread, 5.8 million potatoes and 5.9 million glasses of milk are thrown away every day, while the equivalent of 86 million whole chickens are discarded every year.

Clegg to issue environment warning

Nick Clegg will warn Tories not to put Britain's recovery at risk by rowing back from environmental commitments as Government advisers said emissions targets should not be watered down.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said there was "no legal or economic basis" to amend the UK's legally binding greenhouse gas reduction totals for the period 2023-27.

In an intervention likely to reignite coalition conflict on the issue, the panel of experts said sticking to the target was the minimum the UK needed to contribute to global action.

Royals visit Field of Remembrance

The Duke of Edinburgh will be accompanied by Prince Harry today when he makes his annual visit to the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey.

The royals will pay their respects by each laying a Cross of Remembrance in front of two wooden crosses from the Graves of Unknown British Soldiers from the First and Second World Wars.

The Last Post will be played before a two-minute silence is held and Philip and Harry will then visit the plots, meeting veterans from past and more recent conflicts.

William and Kate support Poppy Day

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will welcome military supporters into their palace grounds today to mark London Poppy Day.

The royal couple will meet staff and volunteers taking part in the Royal British Legion appeal who will call at Kensington Palace as part of a tour across the capital on a 1960s Routemaster Bus.

Some 2,000 uniformed personnel, veterans and their supporters will hit the city's streets for the eighth annual event ahead of Remembrance Day to commemorate the end of the First World War in 1918.

Remembering the dead 'vital'

Remembering the dead of the First and Second World Wars is vital in helping prevent future conflict, a director from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has said.

Ian Hussein, director for the commission's France and Northern Europe Area, said the act of remembering the dead is an important message in helping avoid future wars.

Mr Hussein said there is inevitably a surge in visitors to the commission's sites as people prepare to mark Armistice Day.

£16 Twitter shares to go on sale

Shares in Twitter have been priced at 26 US dollars (£16.25) each ahead of the company's first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange today.

The share prices are above the range of 23 to 25 dollars (£14.30 to £15.60) announced on Monday.

The company, which has more than 230 million users but is yet to make a profit since it was launched seven years ago, is valued at more than 18 billion dollars (£11.2 billion).