The Week

Leading article

Britain’s welfare system is out of control

To grasp the scale of Britain’s welfare crisis, consider some of the changes announced by the government this week. There will be tighter restrictions on sickness benefit and people with mobility issues will have to work from home. It’s a big and controversial reform. But the result? The number of Britons claiming sickness benefits –

Portrait of the week


Ancient and modern

Do the gods drive current affairs?

To judge from current events in the Middle East, the god of Israel appears to be battling the god of the Palestinians, even though they both seem to be the same god. But are they guiding events? And if not, why not? The Greek historian Thucydides (d. c. 400 bc) had no truck with the idea.


What is best: gas or electric?

Hobs choice Oxford City Council has banned the installation of gas hobs in new homes from 2025. What is best: gas or electric? – According to Which? running a gas cooker costs £23 a year, compared with £61 for an electric cooker. Boiling a large pot of water takes an average of 9.69 minutes on


Letters: arts funding is in good hands

Culture clash Sir: Rosie Millard doesn’t like the current Arts Council England (ACE) strategy (Arts, 18 November). She quotes the experience of two organisations, ENO and the Fitzwilliam Museum, ‘who did not get their regular grant’ and who have fallen ‘out of favour’. It is often forgotten that no arts company is guaranteed funding beyond