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UK records another 2,027 Covid cases in 1% fall on last week

UK records another 2,027 Covid cases in 1% fall on last week
UK records another 2,027 Covid cases in 1% fall on last week


A further 2,027 people have tested positive for Covid-19 today – a drop of 1 per cent on last week. 

Today’s case total – 20 fewer than the 2,047 recorded last Saturday – come as fears continue to grow about the Indian Covid variant spreading rapidly in parts of the UK.

But as Britain’s death toll stands at seven today, a rise of just two on the five recorded this day last week, the virtually-unchanged figures will no doubt come as a relief to Boris Johnson.

The PM has been criticised for his response to the B.1.617.2 strain – also known as the Indian variant due to its country of origin.

A health minister was today forced to defend the Government’s delay in shutting Britain’s borders with India.

The Government comes under fire for ‘inexplicable delays’ in reacting to the spread of the deadly variant abroad. 

Edward Argar said the decision to keep India off the ‘red list’ until April 23, two weeks after its neighbours Pakistan and Bangladesh were added, was ‘based on evidence’.

UK records another 2,027 Covid cases in 1% fall on last week

A further 2,027 people have tested positive for Covid-19 today – a drop of 1 per cent on last week

But as Britain's death toll stands at seven today, a rise of just two on the five recorded this day last week, the virtually-unchanged figures will no doubt come as a relief to Boris Johnson

But as Britain’s death toll stands at seven today, a rise of just two on the five recorded this day last week, the virtually-unchanged figures will no doubt come as a relief to Boris Johnson

By that point, 122 cases of the rapidly-spreading variant had already entered the UK from abroad. 

The variant has since spread significantly – with the latest data showing a rise from 520 to 1,313 this week alone.  

Now, surge testing and pop up vaccination centres have been introduced in Indian variant hotspots in a bid to tackle the spread.

Anyone living in Bolton has been invited to get a Covid jab before 5pm today as the race is on to tackle the spread of the Indian variant.

Councillor Andy Morgan shared a Tweet inviting Britons to ‘visit the vaccine bus’ if they live in the area and are registered with a local GP. He said the team of medics ‘will find a reason to vaccinate you’ before closing time at 5pm.

Anyone living in Bolton has been invited to get a Covid jab before 5pm today amid fears over the spread of the Indian variant. Pictured: A queue for the jabs at the pop up centre

The 4,000 jabs at the pop-up centre must be used before the end of the day (the queue, pictured), the councillor for Heaton and Lostock added

The 4,000 jabs at the pop-up centre must be used before the end of the day (the queue, pictured), the councillor for Heaton and Lostock added

The 4,000 jabs at the pop-up centre – held at a school – must be used before the end of the day, the councillor for Heaton and Lostock added. 

Today’s centre at the Essa Academy school saw queues snaking along the pavement as eager locals waited to get their jabs.

There were no age limits on those eligible today so anyone over the age of 18 could be inoculated – meaning the youngest don’t need to wait until the summer as they would in other parts of the country.

The area has seen a surge in cases of the Indian Covid variant, which now makes up the majority of it’s new cases. 

As of yesterday, Bolton’s infection rate is the highest in the country at 192 cases per 100,000 people.

And Government scientists fear the Indian variant could be 50 per cent more infectious than the Kent strain – which models project could lead to 1,000 deaths a day, as well as 10,000 daily hospitalisations, by the summer. 

Mr Johnson has pledged to ‘throw everything we have’ at keeping cases of the Indian variant down and is set to send the Army into Britain’s worst hotspots to hand out tests in a bid to slow the spread. 

The area has seen a surge in cases of the Indian Covid variant, which now makes up the majority of it's new cases. Pictured: A queue for the jabs at the pop up centre

The area has seen a surge in cases of the Indian Covid variant, which now makes up the majority of it’s new cases. Pictured: A queue for the jabs at the pop up centre

Councillor Andy Morgan shared a Tweet inviting Britons of all ages to 'visit the vaccine bus' if they live in the area and are registered with a local GP. He said the team of medics 'will find a reason to vaccinate you' before closing time at 5pm

Councillor Andy Morgan shared a Tweet inviting Britons of all ages to ‘visit the vaccine bus’ if they live in the area and are registered with a local GP. He said the team of medics ‘will find a reason to vaccinate you’ before closing time at 5pm

The Prime Minister has pledged to 'throw everything we have at this task' and is set to send the Army into Britain's worst variant hotspots - including Bolton (a vaccination centre, pictured) - to hand out tests in a bid to slow the spread

The Prime Minister has pledged to ‘throw everything we have at this task’ and is set to send the Army into Britain’s worst variant hotspots – including Bolton (a vaccination centre, pictured) – to hand out tests in a bid to slow the spread

As of yesterday, Bolton's infection rate is the highest in the country at 192 cases per 100,000 people. Pictured: A seven-day cases rate by age in Bolton

As of yesterday, Bolton’s infection rate is the highest in the country at 192 cases per 100,000 people. Pictured: A seven-day cases rate by age in Bolton

A Warwick University model of a more infectious variant after lockdown is completely lifted on June 21 suggests that any more than a 30 per cent increase in transmissibility compared to the Kent variant could lead to an August peak of daily hospital admissions that is higher than either the first or second wave. In a worst-case scenario with a variant 50 per cent more transmissible, hospital admissions could surge to 10,000 per day or even double that  (Thick lines indicate the central estimate while the thin lines are possible upper limits known as confidence intervals)

RUNNERS RETURN FOR ‘TASTER OF WHAT NORMALITY MIGHT LOOK LIKE’ AT PILOT 5K 

Runners have put their best foot forward for a pilot event on the road to a safe return of mass participation sport amid a ‘brilliant atmosphere’.

The only running event in the Government’s Events Research Programme began on Saturday morning at Kempton Park in Surrey.

Runners and spectators taking part in the Reunion 5K will help to provide scientific data on Covid-19 transmission levels, with both socially-distanced and non-socially-distanced runs being trialled.

Surrey County Council leader Tim Oliver said it had been ‘amazing’ to take part.

In a video on Twitter, he said: ‘It was a brilliant atmosphere, everybody really enjoying themselves.’

He added: ‘It’s just a taster really of what normality might look like again, just amazing.

‘So well done to Surrey for hosting it and well done to all the runners for participating.’

All those in attendance had to provide evidence of a negative Covid-19 lateral flow test and were asked to take a PCR test both on Saturday and five days later.

Approximately 1,000 socially-distanced runners were to set off at regular intervals in the first group of races, watched by a socially-distanced crowd of spectators.

Some 1,000 runners were then set to take part in a non-socially distanced 5K, with onlookers also not required to keep apart.

Organiser Hugh Brasher, the event director of London Marathon Events, took part in the non-socially distanced run and said it had felt ‘surprisingly normal’.

He said: ‘After 16 months of not being with people, to be with people felt… I thought it would feel different and it didn’t, and it was lovely to be able to do it and get inspired to run faster than I’ve run in quite a number of years.’

Mr Brasher, who completed the 5k in less than 19 minutes, said it had been ‘brilliant to see that it was such a diversity of abilities doing the event’, from the fastest runners to people walking.

He added: ‘I thought I would feel a bit of trepidation on the start line but I was surprised at how normal it felt. Everyone was just looking around, chatting as they normally would before a start.’

Mr Brasher is hoping the pilot will help see the return of all kinds of running events – ranging from park runs, the Great North Run or the London Marathon – to the sporting calendar.

He described the Government’s aim of all adults having been offered their first vaccine by the end of July as something he is ‘incredibly hopeful about’.

He added: ‘And (I’m) hopeful that events such as these can happen in the future, because for everyone’s mental, physical health and overall wellbeing it’s so important.’

Sports Minister Nigel Huddlestone said the Reunion 5k could help provide ‘essential data on the safe return of mass participation events’.

He added: ‘It’s fantastic to see so many runners and spectators getting involved in this event which will feed into policy decisions ahead of step 4 of the road map and hopefully see things like the great London Marathon return with crowds.’

However, Tom Williams, chief operating officer of Park Run, cast doubt on the return of that event if they can only hold some runs and not others.

He said some local authorities had said it ‘might take six months to get approval through a safety advisory group’, with some saying local R numbers would need to be taken into account.

He told BBC Radio Five Live: ‘If we only open a small subset of our events, then the ones that did open would be overwhelmed with participants from the events that were closed.

‘In England we have three million people registered to park run and on a normal Saturday prior to Covid we had about 200,000 people taking part.

‘So, unless we get the very large majority of all of our events open at the same time, we won’t be able to open any of them.’

 

Cases of the B.1.617.2 strain have more than doubled in the past week across the UK, with 1,313 cases detected by May 12, up from the 520 the previous week.

While Prime Minister is pinning his hopes of beating the virus on a ‘flexed’ jab drive, experts fear vaccinations are not the key to slowing the spread. 

Deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation Dr Anthony Harnden today said the jab is ‘almost certainly less effective against transmission’ because immunity only kicks in three weeks after the vaccine is given.  

Meanwhile, Scottish National Party health spokesperson Dr Philippa Whitford warned you ‘cannot out-vaccinate the variant’ due to the time taken to build immunity once someone gets the jab. 

And she stressed that letting the virus ‘run rampant’ in young people who are not yet vaccinated could lead to the creation of more deadly variants. 

Oliver Dowden today warned theatres, sports and music venues that the UK is entering a ‘period of heightened vigilance’ as the Indian variant threatens the return of live events. 

The Culture Secretary said the Government will continue to assess the spread of the variant in the coming weeks and update venues on their reopening.

Mr Dowden wrote on Twitter:  ‘The crucial road map date for theatres, music venues and sports has always been step four, so I understand this is an anxious time as we assess the situation over the next couple of weeks.

‘We continue to make good progress with the vaccine rollout and with testing the safe return of audiences through the Events Research Programme, but must accept we enter a period of heightened vigilance with the new fast-moving variant.

‘We will keep engaging with, and updating, organisations to allow everyone to plan their full reopening.’

Mr Johnson has warned England will face ‘hard choices’ if the Indian variant turns out to be much more transmissible than others.

But even so, he announced last night that Britain will press ahead with plans for indoor drinking and dining next week – with ministers today insisting the rule change is the ‘safe and right thing to do’.

Second doses of vaccines will be accelerated for the over-50s and the clinically vulnerable across the country, so they are given eight weeks after the first dose instead of the current 12 weeks. 

He also stressed that while the vaccine protects against ‘severe disease’ – therefore helping keep hospitalisation and death rates down – countless vulnerable people and over 50s still haven’t had the jab at all. 

At present the variant is spreading among unvaccinated younger age groups while cases remain lower among older vaccinated people. 

Although the most vulnerable people in Britain are protected against the variant by the vaccine, if it is allowed to spread uncontrolled among unvaccinated younger people it could still cause thousands of deaths and  hospitalisations in a third wave potentially more serious than Britain’s first and second. 

SAGE calculations upon which lockdown easing were based factored in the Kent variant but not a faster spreading strain. 

Dr Whitford told Radio 4’s Any Questions?: ‘If you think its a speeding train that’s heading down the track towards you, you get out of the way now. You don’t wait to see whether it changes on to another line.’

She added: ‘Yes, at the beginning there was no handbook. People were finding their way. But last summer, Scotland particularly but actually most of the UK got cases right down and then everyone was encourage to go on holiday.

‘And we already brought new strains in and the second wave kicked off.

‘There was a delay in six weeks of the Prime Minister putting lockdown in the south east of England and that is what allowed the Kent variant to evolve. And that hasn’t just taken over in the UK, that is what drove the second and third waves across Europe.

‘And now we have this Indian variant which there is clearly a significant suspicion that it is more infectious yet again and that is going to affect younger people. 

‘And its fine to say they’re not in hospital. And the vaccine does appear to be helping people.  

‘We’re not seeing a surge in deaths or hospitalisations, but if you allow [the Indian variant] to run rampant in younger people, you will actually generate more domestic new variants and you mustn’t forget long Covid is affecting younger people as well.’  

These includes Bolton, where today's pop up centre at the Essa Academy school saw queues snaking along the pavement as eager locals waited to get their jabs (a man getting his jab, pictured)

These includes Bolton, where today’s pop up centre at the Essa Academy school saw queues snaking along the pavement as eager locals waited to get their jabs (a man getting his jab, pictured)

A man gets his Covid vaccination in Bolton. The area has surge in cases of the Indian coronavirus variant

A man gets his Covid vaccination in Bolton. The area has surge in cases of the Indian coronavirus variant

Dr Whitford stressed that the ‘vaccine doesn’t work for two to three weeks’, adding: ‘This variant is trebling every week. You cannot out-vaccinate the variant.’

She urged the government to put the most-affected areas into ‘tighter restrictions’ to slow the spread of the Indian variant because jabs take two to three weeks to be effective. 

BMA public health medicine committee co-chairman Dr Jarvis today said the number of people still without the protection of a vaccine – and the rapid spread of the Indian variant – means the ‘utmost caution’ should be taken when lockdown restrictions ease. 

The Prime Minister will send in troops to help surge-testing efforts in Bolton – which is fighting a spike in infections almost ten times higher than the UK average – and neighbouring Blackburn. 

Images from Bolton today showed deserted streets as locals opted to stay indoors as cases surged. Those who did venture out were seen wearing masks.

A worker directs a patient to a Covid vaccination centre in Bolton. The area is also undergoing surge testing

A worker directs a patient to a Covid vaccination centre in Bolton. The area is also undergoing surge testing

Security are seen directing people in cars as they wait to have their vaccination outside Essa Academy

Security are seen directing people in cars as they wait to have their vaccination outside Essa Academy

Boris Johnson announced last night that Britain will press ahead with plans for indoor drinking and dining from Monday – with ministers today insisting the rule change is the ‘safe and right thing to do’ 

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today Programme, Dr Harnden said: ‘This is a clearly more-transmissible virus, this B617 which originated in India. 

‘And the vaccines may be less effective against mild disease but we don’t think they’re less effective against severe disease. In combination with being less effective against mild disease, they’re almost certainly less effective against transmission. 

‘We’ve got a very successful programme at the moment in preventing severe disease and we have had a key focus on hospitalisations and deaths. 

‘So we believe vaccinating those in at-risk groups who are currently unvaccinated, and bringing forward that second dose in the over 50s by four weeks, is a better strategy. 

‘And the reason that we think this is because if we immunise 18 to 29 year olds for instance in these areas, we would be taking vaccines from somebody else in the country. 

Bolton Council workers distributing surge Covid testing kits to shops in the Daubhill area of Bolton, Lancashire, today

Bolton Council workers distributing surge Covid testing kits to shops in the Daubhill area of Bolton, Lancashire, today

Leicester City fans heading to the FA Cup final are seen walking outside Wembley Stadium on Saturday afternoon

Leicester City fans heading to the FA Cup final are seen walking outside Wembley Stadium on Saturday afternoon

21,000 spectators will be inside Wembley to watch the showpiece event in the English football calendar on Saturday night

21,000 spectators will be inside Wembley to watch the showpiece event in the English football calendar on Saturday night

Leicester supporters Gurmukh Singh and his nephew Arjun Singh make the walks along Wembley Way towards the stadium

Leicester supporters Gurmukh Singh and his nephew Arjun Singh make the walks along Wembley Way towards the stadium

‘The vaccines may be less effective against transmission – as I said – and actually the immunity takes a number of weeks to develop.

‘So it’s not a very good strategy for preventing transmission.’

He stressed that the country can ‘cope with infection rates in the community providing we don’t get our hospitals overwhelmed’. 



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Boris Johnson’s father Stanley joins attack on drive to ease planning rules

Boris Johnson’s father Stanley joins attack on drive to ease planning rules
Boris Johnson’s father Stanley joins attack on drive to ease planning rules


Boris Johnson’s father Stanley joins attack on drive to ease planning rules as he warns it could undermine nature protection programmes

  • Boris Johnson’s father raised fears over the potential damage to the environment
  • Stanley Johnson said the reforms may ruin ‘our nature protection programmes’
  • Reforms give automatic permission for news homes in areas marked for growth  










Boris Johnson‘s father yesterday joined the backlash against his son’s planning reforms.

The Prime Minister is already facing a revolt from within his party over the ‘electorally toxic’ moves that would step up house-building and make it harder for locals to object to new homes.

And even his own father raised concerns about the damage the plans could cause to the environment.

‘I think we have to be tremendously careful before we push through planning reforms, which themselves may serve to undermine the very basis of our nature protection programmes,’ Stanley Johnson told Times Radio.

Boris Johnson’s father Stanley joins attack on drive to ease planning rules

Boris Johnson’s father Stanley yesterday joined the backlash against his son’s planning reforms, arguing they could cause damage to the environment

‘And I’m not convinced that telling the Horsham District Council, “Yes, you’ve got to build 1,000 houses” or whatever it is, giving them no room to manoeuvre, is the way forward.’

His son has vowed that 300,000 homes will be built a year. The reforms would give automatic permission for homes in new zones earmarked for growth.

The proposed reforms were even blamed for contributing to the Tories’ shock defeat in last week’s Chesham and Amersham by-election to the Liberal Democrats.

However there was only muted criticism from Tories in a Commons debate on the topic held by Labour yesterday.

Former Planning Minister Sir Bob Neill said people must be able to have a say on new developments in their communities.

‘I have a word of caution to the minister about how we approach that in terms of the role of the individual objector and the role of the local authority in the planning process.

‘It’s a democratic issue and we have to make sure that we are efficient, but not at the expense of local democracy.’

The proposed reforms were even blamed for contributing to the Tories' shock defeat in last week¿s Chesham and Amersham by-election to the Liberal Democrats

The proposed reforms were even blamed for contributing to the Tories’ shock defeat in last week’s Chesham and Amersham by-election to the Liberal Democrats

Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely, who at the weekend called the reforms a ‘developers’ charter’ that will be ‘electorally toxic’, said: ‘Stripping away democracy, at whatever level, should be avoided by a Conservative government.’ Cornish Tories said planning rules should be tougher for second home owners.

Steve Double said: ‘It’s time for the Government to seriously look at requiring planning permission to have a home that is not your primary residence.’

Derek Thomas agreed: ‘We don’t want to interfere in the market, but it is right now that we have some sort of planning condition for properties that are not going to be a primary residence.’

Housing Minister Christopher Pincher accused Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary Steve Reed of acting like a ‘latter-day witchfinder general’ and likened him to conspiracy theorist David Icke for highlighting links between the Conservatives and major developers.

‘How long will it be before he runs off and jumps into his turquoise tracksuit and starts telling everybody the world is run by lizards and he is the godhead?’ he asked.

In his closing speech, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick mocked Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey’s recent claim to be a YIMBY – someone who says Yes In My Back Yard to new developments.

‘It is better to describe him and his party as a BANANA: building absolutely nothing anywhere near anything,’ said Mr Jenrick

The Prime Minister has vowed that 300,000 homes will be built a year. The reforms would give automatic permission for homes in new zones earmarked for growth (stock image)

The Prime Minister has vowed that 300,000 homes will be built a year. The reforms would give automatic permission for homes in new zones earmarked for growth (stock image) 



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Boris Johnson pours cold water on easing Covid rules early

Boris Johnson pours cold water on easing Covid rules early
Boris Johnson pours cold water on easing Covid rules early


Britain’s daily coronavirus case have risen by another third in a week, official figures revealed today after Boris Johnson warned more lockdowns could still be on the cards this winter.

Department of Health bosses recorded 10,633 positive tests in the last 24 hours — up 37.3 per cent on last Monday’s count — with the national uptick in cases fuelled by the highly-transmissible Indian variant, which MailOnline today confirmed was now dominant in more than 300 areas of England.

Despite cases steadily increasing since mid-May, the number of people dying from the disease has stayed relatively flat, in a key sign the vaccines have broken the link between infections and fatalities. Five victims were added to the official toll today, compared to three last week. 

But hospital admissions — which also lag weeks behind any spike in positive tests because of how long it takes for infected patients to become severely ill — have risen by another 20 per cent in the space of a week. 

The data came as the Prime Minister poured cold water on the prospect of easing the remaining coronavirus rules early, as he refused to rule out future lockdowns and warned the nation should brace for a ‘rough winter’. 

No10 has delayed ‘freedom day’ by four weeks to July 19 but a two-week review will take place on July 5 to see if the return to normal can be moved forward. 

Mr Johnson struck a pessimistic tone during a visit to a laboratory in Hertfordshire as he said ‘Delta’ variant cases, hospitalisations and admissions to intensive care are still rising and the country must therefore be ‘cautious’. But he insisted it is ‘looking good’ for the rules to be lifted at the ‘terminus point’ of July 19 as he said the ‘vaccination rollout is going gangbusters’.

However, he declined to rule out re-imposing draconian curbs later in the year as he warned ‘some new horror’ could emerge which ‘we simply haven’t budgeted for’.

Meanwhile, the PM also dashed hopes of international travel being opened up in time for summer holidays as he admitted foreign trips this year will be ‘difficult’ – despite ministers drawing up plans to scrap quarantine rules for returning double-jabbed Britons.

Travel experts said they fear ministers will not ‘open things up very much at all until August’ as the industry faces another disastrous summer. Mr Johnson said it is his priority to keep Britain ‘safe’ and block dangerous new Covid variants from entering the country, which means anyone looking to fly abroad in the coming months is likely to face ‘hassle’ and ‘delays’.

The remarks appear to contradict recent comments from Cabinet ministers who have suggested the Government is actively looking to give fully vaccinated people more freedoms. 

The PM said: ‘I want to stress that this is going to be – whatever happens – a difficult year for travel. There will be hassle, there will be delays, I am afraid, because the priority has got to be to keep the country safe and stop the virus coming back in.’  

Boris Johnson pours cold water on easing Covid rules early

ata collected by the Wellcome Sanger Institute — Britain's largest centre for monitoring Covid variants — revealed the Indian variant is now dominant in more than 300 local authorities in England. The spread of the Indian variant in the fortnight ending May 22

The spread of the Indian variant in the fortnight ending May 29

Department of Health bosses posted 10,633 positive tests — up 37.3 per cent on last Monday’s count, with the national up-tick in cases fueled by the highly-transmissible Indian variant, which is now dominant in more than 300 areas of England. Pictured left and right, maps show how the mutant strain has quickly spread across the country. The dark the colour, the higher proportion of positive tests the Indian variant is to blame for

The spread of the Indian variant in the fortnight ending June 5

Data collected by the Wellcome Sanger Institute — Britain's largest centre for monitoring Covid variants — revealed the Indian variant is now dominant in more than 300 local authorities in England

Data collected by the Wellcome Sanger Institute — Britain’s largest centre for monitoring Covid variants — revealed the Indian variant was dominant in more than 300 local authorities in England during the fortnight ending June 12, which is the most recent day figures are available for (right)

Boris Johnson struck a pessimistic tone during a visit to a laboratory in Hertfordshire as he said 'Delta' variant cases, hospitalisations and admissions to intensive care are still rising

Boris Johnson struck a pessimistic tone during a visit to a laboratory in Hertfordshire as he said ‘Delta’ variant cases, hospitalisations and admissions to intensive care are still rising

Matt Hancock blames ‘stress’ for Boris Johnson calling him ‘totally f****** hopeless’

Matt Hancock today suggested Boris Johnson was ‘stressed’ when he called him ‘totally f****** hopeless’ in a private WhatsApp message sent to Dominic Cummings.  

The Health Secretary dismissed the significance of a series of bombshell messages from Mr Johnson which were published by Mr Cummings last week. 

Mr Hancock said the communications, sent during the height of the coronavirus crisis last year, represented ‘ancient history’.  

He said that ‘at times of stress people say all sorts of things in private’ but ‘what matters most is how well you work together’. 

The Cabinet Minister also said he is not embarrassed by Mr Johnson’s apparent assessment of his performance. 

Mr Cummings, the PM’s former chief aide, stepped up his war with Number 10 last week when he published a number of messages sent to him by Mr Johnson. 

In one exchange from March 27 last year, Mr Cummings criticised the Health Secretary over the failure to ramp up testing, with Mr Johnson replying: ‘Totally f****** hopeless.’  

Downing Street has not confirmed or denied that the messages published by Mr Cummings are genuine.

Mr Hancock was asked this morning during an interview with the BBC Breakfast programme how he felt about the PM describing him as ‘hopeless’. 

He said: ‘Honestly? It feels like ancient history, right? The vaccine programme is a huge success. 

‘At times of stress people say all sorts of things in private. What matters is how well you work together. 

‘You are referring to comments apparently from the Prime Minister. I work with the Prime Minister every single day. We work very strongly together, firstly to protect life and secondly to get the country out of this. That is what matters.’ 

Told that it must be embarrassing for him to know Mr Johnson had said such things, Mr Hancock replied: ‘No, it isn’t really because of all the things we have delivered together.’

Matt Hancock had just hours earlier raised the prospect of foreign travel rules being loosened when he confirmed that Israel-style plans to scrap isolation for fully vaccinated people returning to the UK were being considered by the Government.

The Health Secretary said ministers were ‘working on’ relaxing restrictions for double-jabbed adults and their children, which could see the current mandatory 10-day self-isolation from amber and red list countries replaced with daily Covid tests.

But he said Downing Street could not press ahead with the plan for 31.3million Britons just yet because they are waiting for experts to analyse data from a pilot scheme to see if ‘it will be effective’.

The latest coronavirus developments came as: 

  • Mr Hancock suggested Mr Johnson was ‘stressed’ when he called him ‘totally f****** hopeless’ in a private WhatsApp message sent to Dominic Cummings.
  • The Health Secretary said he plans to scrap the requirement for people who have had two Covid-19 jabs and come into contact with an infected person to isolate for 10 days. 
  • Mr Cummings claimed he ‘screamed’ at the PM while his chief aide over the premier’s insistence that Government policy should ‘follow the bloody media’. 
  • Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the Government should rely on economic growth rather than tax hikes to fill the financial blackhole left by the Covid crisis. 
  • It was claimed that Mr Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak are on a collision course over the PM’s big-spending habits as Tories voiced alarm about the UK’s spiralling £2.17trillion debt mountain. 

Tory MPs, hospitality chiefs and travel bosses are all hopeful the PM will accelerate the nation’s exit from lockdown. 

But Mr Johnson appeared to suggest that is unlikely as he painted a grim picture of the spread of the ‘Delta’ variant. 

Asked whether he will bring forward ‘freedom day’, the Prime Minister said: ‘As I say, the vaccination rollout is going gangbusters and loads of people are coming forward now for their second jabs.

‘Please come forward, get your second jab, and it is great that today we will have done all of JCVI one to nine, so everybody over 50 will have been offered two jabs as of today plus all care workers, all the vulnerable groups, huge numbers of people.

‘I think almost 60 per cent of adults in this country have now had or been offered two jabs so we are one of the most vaccinated countries in the world.

‘But look at the numbers of delta, the ‘Delta’ variant, it is sadly going up still, it is going up by about 30 per cent a week in cases, hospitalisations up by roughly the same amount and so sadly ICU admissions into intensive care.

‘So we have got to be cautious but we will be following the data the whole time.’

Mr Johnson said it is still ‘looking good’ for the July 19 reopening date amid fears among some Tory MPs that the PM could again delay the lifting of the remaining curbs. 

Asked to rule out further lockdowns in the future, the premier said: ‘You can never exclude that there will be some new disease, some new horror that we simply haven’t budgeted for, or accounted for. 

‘But looking at where we are, looking at the efficacy of the vaccines against all variants that we can currently see – so Alpha, Delta, the lot of them, Kappa – I think it’s looking good for July 19 to be that terminus point.

Business Secretary insists taxes should NOT rise to balance the books after Covid

The Government should rely on economic growth rather than tax hikes to fill the Covid black hole in the public finances, the Business Secretary said today.

Kwasi Kwarteng insisted driving growth is the ‘best way’ of balancing the books amid claims Rishi Sunak is looking at a pensions raid to raise revenue. 

But Mr Kwarteng suggested reducing reliefs such as the £1million lifetime allowance was ‘not necessarily the way forward’. 

And he said he is ‘pretty sure the triple lock will stay’ – despite alarm in the Treasury that state pensions will rise at least 6 per cent this year due to the warping effects of furlough.

The tensions emerged as Boris Johnson faces Cabinet disquiet over big spending decisions being railroaded through without consultation.

Mr Johnson, Mr Sunak and Health Secretary Matt Hancock had been expected to meet tomorrow to discuss proposals on social care – expected to cost another £5billion a year. However, No10 said the meeting will not be happened as billed.

In a round of interviews this morning, Mr Kwarteng was asked about tax rises to cover the huge cost of coronavirus – with the national debt mountain now £2.17trillion.

‘I am hopeful as business secretary as you can imagine that we can grow the economy,’ he told Sky News. 

‘That in the past has always been the best way to raise tax revenue… the tax revenue from a thriving economy can pay down some of the debt.’

Asked about the option of a raid on pensions reliefs, he said: ‘I don’t think that is necessarily the way forward.’

‘I think what the scientists are saying is that things like flu will come back this winter, we may have a rough winter for all sorts of reasons, and obviously there are big pressures on the NHS.

‘All the more reason to reduce the number of Covid cases now, give the NHS the breathing space it needs to get on with dealing with all those other pressures, and we are certainly going to be putting in the investment to make sure that they can.’

Downing Street also played down the idea of easing rules before July 19. 

The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said that while there would be a two-week review of the data, currently cases were continuing to rise.

‘We will monitor case data day by day to see if moving forward after two weeks is possible,’ the spokesman said.

‘You’ll see the data we are looking at – 10,000 cases recorded for the third day in a row on Saturday which is the highest level since February 2.

‘The seven-day average for hospitalisations also continues to rise. ICU intake is also rising.’

It came after Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said hospital admissions are ‘slowly rising’ but are nothing like the rates seen during previous waves.

He told Times Radio: ‘Two weeks ago, on June 4, we had 800 Covid-19 patients in hospital; as of Friday it was 1,170.

‘In November there were 14,700 and (in the) January/February peak, there were 34,000 people in hospitals with Covid-19.

‘It’s rising relatively slowly but it’s nowhere near anything like the kind of numbers we’ve had in previous waves.’ 

Despite the growth in case numbers, the Government is still planning to bring forward proposals which could make it easier for people to travel internationally as it faces growing criticism over the current traffic light system. 

Number 10 is facing fresh calls to re-evaluate its red, amber and green travel list after data revealed fewer than one in 250 travellers from amber list countries tested positive for Covid last month. 

Just 89 of 23,465 people who travelled into the UK from nations such as Spain, Greece, France and Italy between May 20 and June 9 had a positive Covid test.

The cases all came from just 16 of the 167 countries on the amber list, according to NHS Test and Trace data. And there were none classed as being ‘variants of concern’ — Alpha, Beta, Delta or Gamma strains.

The Government is looking to Israel for potential answers to its current international travel headache. 

No10 is facing fresh calls to re-evaluate the travel list after data revealed fewer than one in 250 travellers from amber list countries tested positive for Covid last month. Just 89 of 23,465 people who travelled into the UK from nations such as Spain between May 20 and June 9 had a positive Covid test

No10 is facing fresh calls to re-evaluate the travel list after data revealed fewer than one in 250 travellers from amber list countries tested positive for Covid last month. Just 89 of 23,465 people who travelled into the UK from nations such as Spain between May 20 and June 9 had a positive Covid test

The cases all came from just 16 of the 167 countries on the amber list, according to NHS Test and Trace data. And there were none classed as being 'variants of concern' — Alpha, Beta, Delta or Gamma strains

The cases all came from just 16 of the 167 countries on the amber list, according to NHS Test and Trace data. And there were none classed as being ‘variants of concern’ — Alpha, Beta, Delta or Gamma strains

Flu could be a BIGGER problem than Covid this winter, Government adviser warns

Flu could pose a ‘bigger problem’ than Covid this winter because very few people currently have immunity against it, a top Government scientist warned today.  

Professor Anthony Harnden, who advises No10 on Covid vaccines, said there had been a ‘very, very low’ prevalence of influenza over the past few years.

He added that flu cases plunged to ‘virtually nil’ when the pandemic hit as lockdowns and social distancing rules curbed the spread of other respiratory viruses.

Professor Harnden, deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said the low rates meant barely anyone had been exposed to flu and built up natural immunity, leaving the bulk of the population vulnerable.  

He warned a large influenza outbreak could wreak havoc on the NHS this winter. 

‘I will emphasise that actually flu could be potentially a bigger problem this winter than Covid,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. 

‘We’ve had a very, very low prevalence of flu for the last few years, particularly virtually nil during lockdown, and we do know that when flu has been circulating in very low numbers immunity drops in the population, and it comes back to bite us. 

‘So, flu can be really, really important this winter.’ 

Fully-jabbed Israeli citizens wanting to travel abroad must take two tests — one three days before boarding their plane on the way home, and the other when they touch down. 

They must also show border control staff proof they have been vaccinated on an official app.

Asked whether Downing Street is considering replacing quarantine rules for fully-vaccinated travellers, Mr Hancock told Sky News: ‘We know the vaccine is working.

‘That’s why it is so important so many people are coming forward to get it and we’re always looking at how we can replace the restrictions we’ve had to have as a country with the protection you get from the vaccine.

‘In fact, that’s the whole point of the vaccine – to protect life and get us out of these restrictions.’

Mr Hancock added: ‘Now, we are not able to make any specific announcements on this today. It is something that we’re working on and I very much hope we’ll be able to make progress soon.’  

The aviation and tourism industries are increasingly angry at the Government over its approach to resuming international flights. 

Paul Charles, chief executive at travel consultancy The PC Agency, said he does not anticipate any major changes being made to the rules in the near future. 

He said: ‘I think caution is going to continue from the Government. I think there may well be very few changes. You may see maybe somewhere like Turkey move from red to amber, you may see a couple of greens added.

‘But they’ve got to re-instil confidence in people about the traffic light system. The system is shot to pieces at the moment, because of the way that they treated Portugal two weeks ago.

‘They’ve either got to reinvigorate the traffic light system, or they’ve got to outline how they’re going to enable fully jabbed citizens to travel with more freedom and not have to quarantine when they return from an amber country.’

He added: ‘I’m not sure they’re going to open things up very much at all until August.’



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Downing St vows to stick with pension ‘triple lock’

Downing St vows to stick with pension ‘triple lock’
Downing St vows to stick with pension ‘triple lock’


Downing Street on Monday vowed to “stick” to the government’s “triple lock” pledge for uprating the state pension, brushing aside Treasury concerns about how this could add £4bn to the annual cost of the policy.

Boris Johnson’s spokesman reiterated the commitment despite chancellor Rishi Sunak having questioned how the government could afford it given growing public spending pressures after the coronavirus pandemic.

Senior government figures have discussed a year-long suspension of the triple lock pledge, arguing ministers could cite unusual circumstances for breaking a promise contained in the Conservative party’s 2019 general election manifesto. 

But the prime minister’s spokesman doubled down on the pledge on Monday, saying five times that the triple lock promise would be kept. “We have made a commitment on triple lock and plan to stick to that commitment,” he said.

Asked if he was ruling out a temporary suspension of the pledge, the spokesman replied: “Yeah . . . we are committed to the triple lock.”

Under the triple lock, the government must increase the state pension every year by the highest out of average UK earnings growth, inflation or 2.5 per cent. The earnings part of the pledge has been defined as the annual rise in the average earnings index in the quarter to July, which is known in early autumn. 

Anomalies in wages data have pushed the headline growth rate of average UK earnings up to 5.6 per cent in the three months to April, with economists forecasting that it will rise to about 8 per cent by July. This could add up to £4bn to the annual cost of the triple lock pledge.

The Treasury has been keen to impress upon Downing Street that it could have to raise taxes or cut spending to find the extra £4bn for keeping the triple lock pledge this year, according to Sunak’s allies.

One alternative for the government might be ministers to define earnings growth in a different way than normal to adjust for the current distortions in the statistics.

This could enable ministers to say they were sticking to the triple lock pledge, while offering a lower increase in state pension, but one government insider said the move could be vulnerable to a legal challenge.

An aide to Sunak said no decision on the uprating of the state pension would be made until the earnings growth figure was known in September. The aide denied one media report that Sunak was considering changes to pension tax relief to help pay for the cost of the triple lock pledge.

Sir Steve Webb, partner at the pension consultants LCP and a former pensions minister, said the government “had a problem” because the default under the law was to uprate pensions in line with earnings. 

Meanwhile, Downing Street and the Treasury have yet to reach agreement on funding Johnson’s pledge in 2019 to “fix the crisis in social care once and for all”.

Downing Street and the health department are pushing for an early government decision, perhaps even before the summer recess, to ensure a solution is in place before the general election, according to people briefed on the situation.

Johnson is believed to support a £50,000 cap on an individual’s lifetime liability for social care costs, combined with more generous means-testing: proposals that are broadly in line with reforms recommended by the economist Sir Andrew Dilnot a decade ago. 

However, the Treasury is determined that additional funding is debated as part of the government’s spending review due to be concluded in the autumn.

One person briefed on the Treasury’s thinking said policy options were still at “the discussion stage”. No decisions had been made and none were “expected imminently”, added this person.

Richard Sloggett, former political adviser to health secretary Matt Hancock, said the spending review “is going to be critical. It allows the Treasury to say, if Number 10 wants social care reform, it has to not pursue something else”.

Leaders of seven organisations representing the social care sector, including the Social Care Institute for Excellence and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and Care England, on Monday wrote to Johnson, Sunak and Hancock “to urge the government to act now on reform of England’s social care system and publish its proposals before the summer [parliamentary] recess”.



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Mounting tensions between Boris and Rishi over spending pledges

Mounting tensions between Boris and Rishi over spending pledges
Mounting tensions between Boris and Rishi over spending pledges


Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak are on a collision course over his big-spending habits today as Tories voiced alarm about the UK’s spiralling £2.17trillion debt mountain.

The Chancellor is believed to be increasingly alarmed about the commitments being made – with claims that the PM announced a huge effort on climate change at the G7 summit without informing him.

There is also an ongoing spat about Mr Johnson’s insistence on sticking to the state pension ‘triple lock’, which could mean the payments rocket this year because furlough and the impact of the pandemic has warped wage figures.

And Mr Sunak is apparently refusing to foot the £200million bill for a national yacht announced by Mr Johnson – with Ben Wallace’s Ministry of Defence and Liz Truss’s Trade department also balking at the cost.  

A potential flashpoint had been due to come tomorrow with Mr Johnson, Mr Sunak and Health Secretary Matt Hancock due to meet to discuss proposals on social care that are expected to cost £5billion a year.

However, the session has been ‘taken out’ of ministerial diaries for reasons that remain unclear. 

The issue of spending is at risk of drawing another ‘hawks’ and ‘doves’ dividing line through the government, with the need to make good on ‘levelling up’ promises from the PM clashing with anxiety about the dire state of the public finances. Mr Sunak has been among the strongest voices on the need for a speedy unlocking, although he was said to be ‘relaxed’ about the latest delay to Freedom Day. 

Mr Johnson has rejected the concept of austerity, suggesting it was a mistake after the credit crunch – but others are concerned that inflation and interest rates could throw the country into chaos unless the deficit is closed quickly.    

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng appeared to deal a rebuke to the Chancellor today, insisting the government should rely on economic growth rather than tax hikes to fill the Covid black hole in the public finances. 

One plugged-in senior Tory told MailOnline that ‘every day seems to bring a new spending commitment’ from the PM and Mr Sunak is right to stamp his ‘authority’.

The backdrop to the budgeting row is suspicion over Mr Sunak’s ambitions among some allies of Mr Johnson, who believe he is positioning for the leadership with slick PR and schmoozing of backbenchers. 

Mounting tensions between Boris and Rishi over spending pledges

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson (right) and Rishi Sunak (left) are on a collision course over his big-spending habits today as Tories voiced alarm about the UK’s spiralling £2.17trillion debt mountain

Kwasi Kwarteng issued a veiled rebuke to the Chancellor insisting driving growth and not tax rises is the 'best way' of balancing the books

Kwasi Kwarteng issued a veiled rebuke to the Chancellor insisting driving growth and not tax rises is the ‘best way’ of balancing the books 

UK’s new £200m yacht will be funded ‘through’ the MoD, says No10 

The UK’s new £200million national yacht will be funded ‘through’ the Ministry of Defence, Downing Street said today. 

There have been signs of wrangling between departments over the new flagship, with ministers unwilling to foot the bill out of their own budgets. 

The PM’s spokesman told reporters: ‘This new national flagship will boost British trade and drive investment into the economy.

‘The procurement process, which is being done through the MoD, will reflect its wide-ranging use and so it will be funded through the MoD, as set out previously.’

The No 10 spokesman declined to comment on how the MoD could afford a yacht costing a reported £200million, given its own equipment budget blackhole of £17billion.

Pressed on reports the vessel could be classified as a ‘warship’ and could have guns attached, Boris Johnson’s spokesman said: ‘We will set out the exact detail in due course but this is a trade ship, it is not a military vessel.’

Asked whether that meant it would not be a warship, he replied: ‘That’s correct.’

In a round of interviews this morning, Mr Kwarteng insisted driving growth is the ‘best way’ of balancing the books amid claims Mr Sunak is looking at a pensions raid to raise revenue. 

But he suggested reducing reliefs such as the £1million lifetime allowance was ‘not necessarily the way forward’. 

And he said he is ‘pretty sure the triple lock will stay’ – despite alarm in the Treasury that state pensions will rise at least 6 per cent this year due to the warping effects of furlough.

Asked about tax rises to cover the huge cost of coronavirus, he told Sky News: ‘I am hopeful as business secretary as you can imagine that we can grow the economy. 

‘That in the past has always been the best way to raise tax revenue… the tax revenue from a thriving economy can pay down some of the debt.’

Asked about the option of a raid on pensions reliefs, he said: ‘I don’t think that is necessarily the way forward.’

On the state pension, he said: ‘Obviously it is a decision of the Chancellor, but I am pretty sure the triple lock will stay.’

Treasury sources said changing pensions tax relief is ‘certainly not something the Chancellor is actively looking at’. 

Officials are believed to be examining plans to save £4billion by suspending the triple lock on pensions for a year.

However, Mr Johnson wants to keep the lock in place, even though it would grant pensioners a 6 per cent or higher rise at a time when working-age people are facing a financial squeeze.

Asked about the possibility of a one-year suspension of the manifesto pledge, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said: ‘We are fully committed to the pensions triple lock.’

Mr Johnson was challenged about the triple-lock reports during a visit to a laboratory in Hertfordshire today.

He told broadcasters: ‘I’m reading all sorts of stuff at the moment which I don’t recognise at all about the Government’s plans.’

Officials say Mr Sunak is also refusing to fund the £200million cost of Johnson’s pet project to build a Royal Yacht, with the Ministry of Defence, the Cabinet Office and the Department of International Trade also reluctant to foot the bill.

In more evidence of rising tensions, one official branded the funding for the yacht ‘a complete and utter s***show’ and another even suggested the PM should ‘set up a trust to pay for it’ – a reference to his failed attempt to get Tory donors to fund the cost of renovations to his Downing Street flat.

The PM’s spokesman told reporters that funding would be provided ‘through’ the MoD.

‘This new national flagship will boost British trade and drive investment into the economy,’ he said.

‘The procurement process, which is being done through the MoD, will reflect its wide-ranging use and so it will be funded through the MoD, as set out previously.’

The No 10 spokesman declined to comment on how the MoD could afford a yacht costing a reported £200million, given its own equipment budget blackhole of £17billion. 

Mr Johnson urged G7 nations to sign up for a ‘Marshall Plan’ to help drive global green growth at the summit in Cornwall, but there was no UK money announced and the Treasury was apparently not consulted. 

A former minister told MailOnline: ‘We are spending more than we can afford. It is not unreasonable to ask where is the money coming from.

‘Everyone wants to be fair to pensioners. But I don’t think even pensioners would want to take advantage of the pandemic.

‘The problem is the pandemic has given the impression there is a magic money tree… Rishi needs to assert a bit of authority.’  

Mr Sunak has already laid out plans for tax rises in the coming years to fill the massive black hole in the government finances. 

The Chancellor has told colleagues that he does not think families should face any further rise to personal taxation to pay for the extra spending.  

The national debt mountain now stands at £2.17trillion, and is higher as a proportion of GDP than after the credit crunch

The national debt mountain now stands at £2.17trillion, and is higher as a proportion of GDP than after the credit crunch

The CPI index hit 2.1 per cent in May, up from 1.5 per cent the previous month and above the official 2 per cent goal

The CPI index hit 2.1 per cent in May, up from 1.5 per cent the previous month and above the official 2 per cent goal

There are fears that without greater restraint from No 10, the manifesto pledge not to raise income tax, national insurance or VAT during this parliament will become strained.

Mr Sunak is, however, said to be open to cutting the money for state pensions.

Treasury officials are also believed to be working up plans to cut the £1million pensions lifetime allowance, bring in a single tax relief rate, or tax employer contributions 

An online sales tax is likely to be unveiled this autumn. 

Taxes on gambling giants are also in development, with a Whitehall tussle under way over whether the levy targets profits or turnover. 

There are claims today that the Cabinet is demanding more of a say in spending plans to rein in Mr Johnson. 

‘The cabinet has to be involved in all the big decisions that reflect what the party stands for, the cabinet needs to be more involved in those decisions,’ one Whitehall official told the Guardian.

‘All cabinet ministers have to be part of making decisions that are part of a bigger picture. If you aren’t taking decisions as a collective it is very hard to go out and sell a coherent argument.’  

A No 10 spokesman said: ‘The Prime Minister and Chancellor work closely together, and have been in lockstep throughout the most challenging period any government has faced since the Second World War.’



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Boris vows he WILL come up with social care plan despite ‘do or die’ meeting delay

Boris vows he WILL come up with social care plan despite ‘do or die’ meeting delay
Boris vows he WILL come up with social care plan despite ‘do or die’ meeting delay


Boris Johnson today insisted he will being forward ‘good plans’ on social care as it emerged a ‘do or die’ meeting with Rishi Sunak and Matt Hancock has been postponed.

The PM reiterated his vow to ‘fix’ the crisis in the system as he faces anger from campaigners who are still waiting for any indication of a strategy from the government. 

Asked about the crucial issue during a visit to a laboratory in Hertfordshire, he told reporters: ‘We are pledged to fix it and we must fix it for our country and for our society.

‘Social care workers have borne the brunt of the pandemic and we have got to improve it, and we will. We will be bringing forward some good plans in due course.’

But there is dismay that progress seems to have stalled again, amid wrangling between the PM and Chancellor over fears costs could hit £10billion a year.

A meeting between the pair and Mr Hancock tomorrow, planned for at least a week, is understood been ‘taken out’ of ministerial diaries for reasons that remain unclear. No10 sources suggested the importance of the session had been overblown.  

Mr Johnson first promised to push through social care reforms when he entered Downing Street two years ago, but details have not been forthcoming, with claims ministers want agreement across parties.

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt today urged Mr Johnson to put aside Treasury concerns and find the billions needed to fund a cap on care costs. 

The urgency of the situation was underlined last night as shock new figures showed that thousands of desperate families are being lumbered with crippling average bills of £35,000 a year.

The average fee for a residential home in 2019/20 stood at £672 a week – a rise of 3 per cent on the year before and 29 per cent higher than in 2011/12.

The huge costs leave dementia sufferers with far less to hand on to their children and often require the sale of the family home. 

Mr Johnson is said to be in favour of a lifetime cap on the cost of care of £50,000, as proposed by economist Sir Andrew Dilnot a decade ago. 

The average length of stay in residential care is two years, meaning a cap set at this level would help thousands of people.

But the Chancellor is concerned about the costs – which could end up approaching £10billion a year. He has also said Tory governments should not do anything which could force an increase in personal taxation.

Before the meeting was delayed, Mr Hunt wrote in the Mail that it was a ‘do-or-die moment for social care’. ‘Rather than put our heads in the sand and hope the problem goes away, it is time to grasp the nettle. Come on Boris!’ he said. 

Figures compiled by business analysts LaingBuisson and published by Which? show that in the decade since Sir Andrew brought forward his idea for a cap, care costs have soared.

Fees for nursing homes – for people who need round-the-clock medical care – are now £937 a week or £48,724 a year. This is an increase of 5 per cent in just one year and 33 per cent in eight years.

The figures, which cover the amount paid both by local councils and those who fund their own care, mask the fact that self-funders pay even more than this.

LaingBuisson said self-funders are typically charged 30 per cent more than councils – meaning the average annual cost of a residential care home place will actually be much more than £35,000. And the figures hide a desperate postcode lottery, with families in London and the South East having to pay significantly more. 

Gavin Terry, of Alzheimer’s Society, said: ‘The pandemic laid bare the dire state of social care and the Government must now act. We must ensure families being bankrupted by care fees and woefully inadequate care provision are a thing of the past.’

Caroline Abrahams, of Age UK, added: ‘Despite the efforts of the good people who work in social care, it’s impossible to escape the conclusion that social care in England has become a miserable embarrassment.’

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: ‘Ensuring we have a care system that is fit for the future remains a top priority and we will bring forward proposals for social care reform later this year.’ 

Boris vows he WILL come up with social care plan despite ‘do or die’ meeting delay

The Mail has been waging a long-running campaign to end the care crisis. And the Health Secretary is also eager for a solution to be agreed at tomorrow’s meeting, believing the situation has been left to fester for too long

JEREMY HUNT: It’s a do or die moment for my party over social care fees 

Rarely has a behind-closed-doors shadowy Whitehall meeting mattered so much to the lives of so many. Tomorrow, if rumours are correct, Boris Johnson will sit down with Rishi Sunak and Matt Hancock to decide whether or not to keep his manifesto promise on social care.

I wanted Boris’s job in Downing Street and fought with every breath I had to beat him. But even I, his vanquished rival, had to take my hat off to the big-heartedness of the promise he made on the steps of Downing Street when he got the job.

Those words brought hope to millions: ‘I am announcing now – on the steps of Downing Street – that we will fix the crisis in social care once and for all with a clear plan we have prepared to give every older person the dignity and security they deserve.’

Optimistic words from a prime minister who has made defying the ‘gloomsters’ his trademark. And now we need that optimism more than ever to turn Britain into a country where everyone can face the prospect of old age with confidence and security. For that they need to know there will be a decent safety net to make sure everyone gets the care they need – just like the NHS does for health.

They also need to know the loved ones they leave behind won’t lose all their savings if they end up with dementia and having to pay expensive care home fees.

But is it too expensive? Understandably some of our national bean-counters are worried it may be, with our national finances shot to pieces by the pandemic.

Jeremy Hunt said Mr Johnson must 'decide whether or not to keep his manifesto promise on social care'

Jeremy Hunt said Mr Johnson must ‘decide whether or not to keep his manifesto promise on social care’

My select committee said last year that this broken system needs a minimum of £7billion more added to its budget every year – an eye-watering sum.

But that was not right away – rather a sum to build up to over the years ahead.

Look underneath the numbers, which the Health Foundation helped us to calculate, and in the short term they are pretty manageable. For example, if the proposals for a cap on care costs – as recommended by Andrew Dilnot – were introduced from April 2023, the additional annual cost would be less than a billion pounds a year in the last year of the parliament.

Not small change by any means – but easily manageable compared to the £23billion we already spend on adult social care annually. The costs do then go up significantly – but crucially not in the immediate post-pandemic period when we are having to fund other pressures such as the NHS backlog.

There are of course other things we need to fix too – in particular merging the system with the NHS and making sure local authorities can fulfil their duties.

But we will have to pay many of these anyway because they are caused by increases in the number of older people and promised rises in the national living wage.

We also need to consider what will happen if we do nothing, as I know to my cost from my time as health secretary: the system will just carry on doing what it always has done and export its most vulnerable patients back into NHS hospitals.

Nothing could be worse as we try to bring down the waiting times for five million people – and we are guaranteed winter crisis after winter crisis when hospitals fill up. So rather than put our heads in the sand and hope the problem goes away, it is time to grasp the nettle.

Come on Boris! On top of what we are going to have to pay anyway – because of demography and manifesto commitments to protect people’s homes – the additional amounts necessary are much smaller than the headline figures. Japan and Germany have both grasped the nettle – surely we can too?

Tomorrow is a do-or-die moment for social care. Conservatives have always respected the different generations that make up the fabric of our society.

It’s time for this Conservative government to get this done so we can all sleep soundly at night knowing that whatever fate throws at us, we live in a society where every single older person will be treated with dignity and respect.

It's time for this Conservative government to fix social care so we can all sleep soundly at night knowing that whatever fate throws at us, we live in a society where every single older person will be treated with dignity and respect [Stock image]

It’s time for this Conservative government to fix social care so we can all sleep soundly at night knowing that whatever fate throws at us, we live in a society where every single older person will be treated with dignity and respect [Stock image]



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Johnny Mercer launches court intervention over claims of broken pledge to protect Troubles troops

Johnny Mercer launches court intervention over claims of broken pledge to protect Troubles troops
Johnny Mercer launches court intervention over claims of broken pledge to protect Troubles troops


Axed minister in appeal fight for Ulster veteran: Johnny Mercer launches court intervention over claims of broken pledge to protect Troubles troops

  • The former veterans minister has lodged a witness statement supporting an elderly ex-soldier facing trial over an historical shooting
  • Dennis Hutchings, 80, is accused of attempted murder in relation to the death of a man in County Tyrone in 1974
  • Mercer accuses Boris Johnson of repeatedly lying over a pledge to protect Troubles soldiers and suggests he was misled on the issue while in government
  • Statement will be used in a Court of Appeal action brought Hutchings’ lawyers

Johnny Mercer is taking on the Government in a dramatic court intervention on behalf of Northern Ireland veterans.

The axed veterans minister has lodged a witness statement in support of an elderly ex-soldier facing trial over a historical shooting. 

He accuses Boris Johnson of repeatedly lying over a pledge to protect Troubles soldiers and suggests he was misled on the issue during his time in government.

The Tory MP and former Army captain said the broken promises were a ‘complete betrayal’ of ex-servicemen and he felt ’embarrassed’ to have stood by his colleagues for so long.

Mr Mercer, the MP for Plymouth Moor View, cites seven separate occasions when Mr Johnson and his government committed to a law which would protect Northern Ireland veterans from prosecution.

He said the promise, included in the 2019 Conservative manifesto, was ‘clear, unequivocal and devoid of any qualification.’

Johnny Mercer (right) is taking on the Government in a dramatic court intervention on behalf of Northern Ireland veterans. The axed veterans minister has lodged a witness statement in support of elderly ex-soldier Dennis Hutchings, who is facing trial over a historical shooting [File photo]

Johnny Mercer (right) is taking on the Government in a dramatic court intervention on behalf of Northern Ireland veterans. The axed veterans minister has lodged a witness statement in support of elderly ex-soldier Dennis Hutchings, who is facing trial over a historical shooting [File photo]

He added: ‘[It] should be understood (as it was intended to be) as nothing other than a firm promise and not just another general political statement by the government to Northern Ireland veterans.’

The testimony also alleges that Troubles troops are facing discriminatory treatment because they are not included in the Overseas Operations Bill, which offers protection to those who served in the likes of Iraq and Afghanistan, but not to those who served in Northern Ireland.

Mr Mercer’s statement will be used in a Court of Appeal action brought by lawyers acting for former Life Guards soldier Dennis Hutchings. 

The 80-year-old is accused of attempted murder in relation to the death of a man in County Tyrone in 1974.

Mr Hutchings’ claim against Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis alleges that veterans are being discriminated against because the Government has failed to maintain its promise to prevent ‘vexatious’ prosecutions.

The case failed at the High Court earlier this month but Mr Hutchings and his team have appealed with the fresh testimony from Mr Mercer.     

Mercer (right) Boris Johnson of repeatedly lying over a pledge to protect Troubles soldiers and suggests he was misled on the issue during his time in government. Pictured: Mercer speaks at a Respect Our Veterans parade and rally in London in May

Mercer (right) Boris Johnson of repeatedly lying over a pledge to protect Troubles soldiers and suggests he was misled on the issue during his time in government. Pictured: Mercer speaks at a Respect Our Veterans parade and rally in London in May



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