Politics

‘Impossible to know’ when NHS backlog will be cleared – live Budget updates

Rishi Sunak admits £7bn transport pledge only £1.5bn of new money

Health secretary Sajid Javid has admitted it is “impossible to know” whether the NHS backlog will be cleared within three years, despite the Treasury pledging £6bn to help solve the problem as part of Rishi Sunak’s autumn Budget.

It is understood that £3.8bn of the funding will go towards getting the health service “back on track” following the Covid crisis, while roughly £2.1bn will be used for “digitising” the NHS.

Previous estimates have suggested that the sum offered may not be enough to clear the huge backlog in care, with figures showing that the number of people waiting for routine hospital treatment in England has hit a record 5.6 million.

More than £30bn of spending has already been committed across numerous announcements from the Treasury over the weekend, the largest of which being £7bn for transport infrastructure outside of London.

However, Mr Sunak admitted on Sunday that only £1.5bn of that £7bn would be new money as the chancellor conceded that much of the funding would go towards previously announced projects.

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Watch: Javid ‘leaning towards’ compulsory Covid jabs for NHS

Sajid Javid ‘leaning towards’ compulsory Covid vaccines for NHS staff

Sam Hancock25 October 2021 12:55

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UK businesses borrow £800m in Covid recovery loans

More than 5,000 businesses have tapped into a government scheme to help them recover from the pandemic, in a slow take-up of new support compared with what was offered in the early days of lockdown.

The British Business Bank said £822.8m had been borrowed by 5,137 businesses across the UK since the Recovery Loan Scheme was launched in April.

About 1,000 more firms have been told they can borrow up to £200m, but have yet to tap into the money, analysis by the PA news agency shows.

The 76 banks that are part of the scheme are funnelling money into the recovery much more slowly than when they were trying to rescue businesses from collapse last year.

At this point in the life of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), which launched in March 2020, the banks had approved £15.45bn of loans to 66,585 companies.

The need at this point is much lower than it was as companies tried to stave off potential collapse after being forced to close, industry experts say.

Sam Hancock25 October 2021 12:54

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National living wage ‘set to rise to £9.50 an hour’ – reports

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will reportedly announce a rise in the so-called national living wage in Wednesday’s Budget.

The news follows reports by BBC News and ITV’s Robert Peston. Here’s the latter with a lengthy thread on the topic:

Sam Hancock25 October 2021 12:33

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PM admits Cop26 ‘might go wrong’

Boris Johnson has admitted the crucial climate summit “might go wrong” and said reaching an agreement with world leaders could be “touch and go”.

The downbeat comments — just seven days before the Cop 26 summit kicks off — comes after the Russian president Vladimir Putin said he would not attend and amid uncertainty over whether Xi Jinping will attend, reports Adam Forrest.

Hosting children at No 10 for a “press conference” on the climate, the prime minister said the UK needed to persuade as many countries as possible to “go to net zero”.

Sam Hancock25 October 2021 12:28

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Johnson ‘managing down’ expectations for Cop26 ‘big-time’

Our deputy political editor Rob Merrick reports the following about Boris Johnson’s claims this morning:

Sam Hancock25 October 2021 12:22

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PM claims ministers ‘don’t want to support new coal mines’

More from Boris Johnson’s press conference now, which has left political pundits baffled.

The PM claimed he does not “want to support new coal mines”, as ministers face pressure to prevent a site opening in Cumbria.

Asked if he will continue to support new coal mines being created in the UK, Mr Johnson said somewhat ambiguously: “We don’t want to support new coal mines but what we want to do is to continue our progress to a zero-carbon future.”

Sam Hancock25 October 2021 12:20

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Boris Johnson has joked that feeding people to animals could help to rebalance nature, as part of his press conference with school-children today.

WWF UK’s Tanya Steele, who was appearing alongside the prime minister, noted in the conference that “97 per cent of the mass of mammals” on Earth was now humans or domestic animals.

Mr Johnson then replied that this was “so sad”, adding: “We could feed some of the human beings to the animals.”

Conrad Duncan25 October 2021 12:11

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‘Far from clear’ that Cop26 will bring progress on climate change, PM says

Boris Johnson has said it is “far from clear” that Cop26 will deliver the progress needed to tackle climate change as he welcomed Australia’s target for reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

“That was actually very difficult for Australia because Australia’s very heavily dependent on coal, on lots of carbon-producing industries and they’ve done a heroic thing, the Australians, in getting to that commitment,” Mr Johnson told schoolchildren in Downing Street.

“I hope that they will be joined by lots more countries in that region for the Cop summit.”

The prime minister added that there was a lot of “peer pressure” at the summit, with countries following the example of friends and neighbours.

However, he warned that it was “very, very far from clear that we will get the progress that we need”.

Conrad Duncan25 October 2021 12:01

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Johnson admits he is ‘very worried’ Cop26 could fail to deliver key climate action

Boris Johnson has admitted that it is “touch and go” whether the Cop26 climate conference will be a success, adding that he is “very worried” about the event.

The prime minister, who was answering questions from schoolchildren in Downing Street on Monday, said: “We need as many people as possible to go to net zero so that they are not producing too much carbon dioxide by the middle of the century.

“Now, I think it can be done. It’s going to be very, very tough, this summit. And I’m very worried, because it might go wrong and we might not get the agreements that we need. It’s touch and go.”

World leaders will begin gathering on Sunday for the conference in Glasgow.

(REUTERS)

Conrad Duncan25 October 2021 11:57

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People living in poverty ‘hit harder by gas and electricity bills’, new data shows

Poorer households have been found to pay as much as 50 per cent more on their energy bills than those that are wealthier, according to data analysed by the Labour Party.

The figures show Britain’s poorest 10 per cent of households pay on average £756 a year per person for electricity, gas and other fuels, compared with an average of £504 per person for the richest households.

Our reporter, Sam Hancock, has the full story below:

Conrad Duncan25 October 2021 11:36

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