Review of the year - February

February commenced with Lib-Dem angst over the £26,000 household benefits cap. It's thought 67,000 households were to be seriously affected by the proposed legislation.

Barclays announced around £6bn in full-year profits - around £700,000 an hour. Tens of thousands of workers picked up millions in bonuses.

Homes boost?

There was also a fresh move by the Government to inject a bit of life into a tired housing market. Up to £500,000 per new-build property was to underwritten by the government.

Then, the Government abandoned plans to do away with the one-year MOT. Transport secretary Justine Greening claimed the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) found almost 28% of car tested in 2010-2011 had one or more defects missed - and one out of every eight cars had their roadworthiness not assessed correctly.

Mid-Feb saw Tesco advertise for permanent unpaid nightshift workers. Permanent ones. The East Anglian advert was rapidly retracted, but caused uproar. "The advert is a mistake caused by an IT error by Jobcentre Plus and is being rectified," Tesco said in a statement.

"It is an advert for work experience with a guaranteed job interview at the end of it as part of a government-led work experience scheme."

Rubbish to all that

Many people cheered the return of weekly bin collections - for some. Eight councils confirmed to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles that they would revert to weekly bin rounds. Fortnightly collections were hugely unpopular with many, accompanied by steep fines for those who overfilled their bins.

You could even be fined £1,000 for leaving your rubbish out on the wrong day by some councils.

Then an old Tory stalwart stepped into the ring in chilly mid February to tell a hard-up Derbyshire Mum she should be far more careful with the household budget. Edwina Currie tore a strip off a struggling woman on maternity leave on Nicky Campbell's Radio 5 Breakfast show.


What the episode did highlight was the rising numbers of cash-strapped families not eating regular meals in order to survive - and the rise of food banks.

February finished with alarming news on residential care home fees, which had soared by more than £4,000 a year in some cases. Annual care home charges have hit more than £45,000 a year for some.

But Judge Philip Raynor said pressure on funding could not excuse a council from its duties under common law after Merseyside-based Sefton Council attempted to impose a fee freeze on local care home operators for a two-year period.