The Financial Inclusion Fund’s (FIF) free national debt advice service is set to close after the government axed its £25m-a-year funding. Last month, the financial secretary to the Treasury, Mark Hoban, confirmed that funding for the free face-to-face advice service, which has operated since 2005, will end in March. The project helps around 100,000 people every year to manage their debts. Its closure will mean the redundancy of 500 debt advisers, at a time when the demand for debt advice is predicted to soar. Tobias Stapf, FIF project manager in London, said: ‘Last year the FIF debt advice service was found by the National Audit Office to provide “value for money” because it is saving significant amounts for the government, the courts [and other bodies]. ‘Time and time again it has been shown that timely and expert intervention in debt problems can prevent debts spiralling out of control and help people get their lives back on track.’ A Treasury spokeswoman said government had already announced a free and impartial national financial advice service.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Head coach John Harbaugh says he won’t be making any changes to his 2016 coaching staff, but he will be losing a key defensive assistant.Linebackers coach Ted Monachino has been hired as the new defensive coordinator in Indianapolis, joining friend and former Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano. The Colts fired defensive coordinator Greg Manusky earlier this week, and Monachino immediately emerged as the top candidate to replace him.Having coached the Baltimore outside linebackers since 2010, Monachino is extremely close with six-time Pro Bowl selection Terrell Suggs and served as his defensive line coach at Arizona State.“That’s a great opportunity for him,” Harbaugh said. “It speaks to the quality of the guys that we have.”Some had thought Monachino might be the eventual successor to defensive coordinator Dean Pees, who will return despite the Ravens finishing 24th in the NFL in points allowed and shattering the franchise record for fewest takeaways in a season with only 14. First-year defensive backs coach Chris Hewitt will also return after drawing criticism as Baltimore allowed 30 touchdown passes and collected a league-worst six interceptions, both franchise worsts.Many fans and media had wondered if Pees’ job might be in jeopardy, but Harbaugh expressed confidence in his entire coaching staff while acknowledging they will make adjustments in schemes and other processes this offseason. With Pees and offensive coordinator Marc Trestman both set to return, the Ravens will begin consecutive seasons with the same coordinators for the first time since 2009 and 2010 with Greg Mattison and Cam Cameron.“I know what kind of coach Dean Pees is,” Harbaugh said. “I look at the season and the improvements that we made — especially in the back end — throughout the course of the season, and that’s what you look for. You’re going to face struggles and trials, and things don’t always play out the way you want them to.”The Baltimore defense improved substantially in the second half of the season after ranking 25th in total defense through the first eight weeks. The Ravens finished eighth in the league in total defense — they also finished in the same spot in 2014 — and were second in yards allowed over their final eight games.Harbaugh hopes that second-half improvement will carry over to 2016.“We were up and down and inconsistent throughout the first eight games of the season, for sure,” Harbaugh said. “We went to battle and went to work to correct those things and found a way to correct most of them throughout the course of the season.“We still have plenty of work to do, but I trust Dean. I know he’s a very good coach and all those guys — I know they’re good coaches. You work side by side with a bunch of guys through a season like this, you find out what they’re made of, and I like our guys.”
Manchester City ended a barren sequence of 35 years without a major trophy as Yaya Toure’s late strike gave them a deserved FA Cup Final victory over Stoke City.Toure was City’s Wembley hero with the semi-final winner against Manchester United – and the giant Ivory Coast midfield man was on target again 16 minutes from time to set the seal on their first top-level success since the 1976 League Cup win against Newcastle United.Roberto Mancini’s side dominated throughout against a disappointing Stoke, who never came close to reproducing the form that swept Bolton Wanderers aside to reach their first FA Cup final.Manchester City were only kept at bay by an outstanding first-half display from Stoke keeper Thomas Sorensen, as he produced saves from Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli while David Silva also squandered a glorious chance.The Dane was powerless, however, in the moment that finally ended the long wait for Manchester City as Toure pounced on a loose ball 10 yards out to thrash his finish past Sorensen in front of the delirious hordes of sky blue supporters.It capped a momentous day for Manchester as City claimed the FA Cup just hours after United secured a record 19th league title with a point at Blackburn Rovers to set up a meeting between the clubs at Wembley in the Community Shield. It was also a day of triumph for boss Mancini, whose long-term future at Eastlands has been questioned. He has now brought silverware back to the club and taken Manchester City into the Champions League – a more than acceptable return on lavish investment at the conclusion of his first full season in charge.He threw his arms into the air in joy at the final whistle and his name rang around Wembley as captain Carlos Tevez ascended the steps to the Royal Box to lift the FA Cup.Stoke’s consolation is a place in next season’s Europa League but boss Tony Pulis will be disappointed that his side, so dangerous and effective in recent weeks, failed to get to grips with the Wembley occasion and rarely threatened.They were given a mighty ovation by their fans, superb throughout, as they collected their losers’ medals – but the reality was they had not done themselves justice and could have no complaints at the outcome.Kenwyne Jones had their best opportunity just after the hour, but it was the only moment of serious alarm for Manchester City keeper Joe Hart. Mancini will now look to use Manchester City’s Abu Dhabi riches to build even further on these foundations to make a serious challenge for the Premier League title next season and to have an impact in the Champions League.Tevez’s impressive cameo in the win against Spurs that secured City’s top-four place was enough to convince Mancini of his fitness after a month out with a hamstring injury, and he played his full part in a dominant display.Matthew Etherington also won his fitness battle after a hamstring problem, along with defender Robert Huth, but he looked off the pace and struggled to make any serious impact before being substituted.City’s early superiority should have brought a goal but they found Stoke keeper Sorensen in superb form as he formed a one-man barrier of defiance.Sorensen set the tone with a fine diving save from Tevez’s deflected shot and produced even better to turn away Balotelli’s curling right-foot effort that looked destined for the top corner until his late intervention. Silva should have given City a deserved lead after 34 minutes, but if there is a weakness in the gifted Spaniard’s game it is an occasional failure to produce the cutting edge to go with his creativity. He was perfectly placed to score after Sorensen could only block Balotelli but hit his shot into the ground and over the top from only eight yards.Huth was fortunate referee Martin Atkinson did not see him catch Balotelli with an elbow early on, but there was no escape six minutes before the interval when he mistimed a challenge on Micah Richards horribly and was booked.Stoke’s support had been as passionate as ever despite their team’s surprisingly timid approach. It was a display reflected in boss Pulis’s animated behaviour in the technical area and only brought one half-chance in the opening period, which Jones failed to profit from.Pulis clearly got his message across to Stoke at the break but it was Silva who was again guilty of over-elaboration as Manchester City wasted another chance after 55 minutes. Tevez found Silva unopposed in the area, only for him to inexplicably hesitate and allow Stoke’s defence to regroup.Stoke had started to show a lot more intent and should have taken the lead just after the hour when Jones latched onto a ball over the top and brushed aside Joleon Lescott with ease, but Hart raced off his line to make a crucial block. Etherington’s selection was clearly a gamble and it was no surprise when he was replaced by Dean Whitehead after 62 minutes. He had looked a shadow of the player who has been such a strong influence on Stoke’s season.The goal City had merited arrived on 74 minutes. Silva released Balotelli in the area and when his shot was deflected invitingly into the path of Toure he gave Sorensen no chance with a thunderous finish.Stoke were unable to gather any serious momentum and even the sight of Sorensen venturing forward for corners failed to unsettle Manchester City before referee Atkinson blew the final whistle to end the years of suffering in the shadow of their illustrious neighbours.