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News Round-Up

Nov 23: Hunt hints at more tax cuts; Israel-Hamas war four-day ceasefire; New Toyota Yaris Cross

Here are the headlines on Thursday, November 23

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Time 6:29 am, November 23, 2023

Hunt hints at more tax cuts before next election after ‘making a start’

The chancellor has said it is ‘going to take time’ to reduce the overall tax burden as he appeared to hint that further pre-election giveaways could be coming down the track.

Jeremy Hunt used the autumn statement on Wednesday to announce a national insurance cut worth £10bn.

Yet despite the earnings bonus, millions of workers will face a squeeze on their finances with the tax burden still set to reach a record high.


UK economic growth forecasts slashed amid persistent inflation

The UK fiscal watchdog has slashed its growth forecasts for the economy in the coming years and warned that it will take longer to bring inflation down.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) said the economy would grow by more than expected this year but was set for three years of growth below previous forecasts.

It came as the chancellor Jeremy Hunt unveiled around £20bn of business and personal tax cuts in the government’s autumn statement, which he dubbed a ‘statement for growth’. Nevertheless, he was immediately warned that the country is still on track to face the highest tax burden since the Second World War and a further fall in living standards for Britons.


Chief scientific adviser to appear before pandemic inquiry

The government’s top science adviser, who is said to have once referred to the Rishi Sunak as ‘Dr Death’, is to appear before the UK Covid-19 inquiry on Thursday.

Professor Dame Angela McLean, the government’s chief scientific adviser (CSA), is expected to be asked about the government’s controversial Eat Out to Help Out scheme, introduced during the pandemic in a bid to help boost business in restaurants and cafes after the first national lockdown.

It comes after the inquiry heard that Dame Angela made the remark about Sunak in a WhatsApp exchange with epidemiologist Professor John Edmunds during a meeting in September 2020.

Van-Tam tells inquiry his family was threatened with having their throats cut

One of the country’s top scientists received ‘extremely hateful messages’ during the pandemic, including threats to his family about ‘having their throats cut’, the UK Covid inquiry has heard.

Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam said the hate mail, which led to the police getting involved, made him consider stepping down from his role as England’s deputy chief medical officer.

Sir Jonathan, who left the post at the end of March last year, said on Wednesday that while his job involved huge workloads and stress, he ‘did not expect my family to be threatened with having their throats cut’.

Israel and Hamas agree to four-day pause in fighting

Israel and Hamas agreed to a four-day ceasefire in the war in Gaza, a diplomatic breakthrough that will free dozens of hostages held by militants as well as Palestinians imprisoned in Israel, and bring a large influx of aid to the besieged territory.

The truce announced on Wednesday raised hopes of eventually winding down the war, which was triggered by Hamas’ October 7 rampage into Israel.

Now in its seventh week, the war has levelled vast swathes of Gaza, fuelled a surge of violence in the occupied West Bank, and stirred fears of a wider conflagration across the Middle East. But Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said late on Wednesday he told US president Joe Biden that he will press ahead with Israel’s war after a temporary ceasefire expires.

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Households set to learn of energy bill rise

Households are set to learn that their energy bills will rise again from January as hopes for relief from the cost-of-living crisis are put on hold.

Ofgem will announce its latest price cap on Thursday, with energy consultancy Cornwall Insight predicting it will increase from the current £1,834 for a typical dual fuel household to £1,931, a 5% jump to take effect from January 1. The forecasts suggest that the typical bill will then fall to £1,853 from the start of April, but will not drop below today’s level until July next year.

Cornwall Insight said recent milder weather was helping to bring down gas prices, and this could help reduce bills next year if it continued. But ‘sharp price falls are not expected’, it said.

Wednesday Car Dealer headlines you might have missed

Latest migration figures expected to show further increase in arrivals to the UK

New figures are expected to show a further increase in people arriving to the UK, as Rishi Sunak continues to face pressure from within his party to reduce net migration.

Numbers released by the Office for National Statistics on Thursday are expected to show a record high for the year to June 2023.

Net migration takes into account the amount of people arriving in the UK, minus those who leave, and in 2022 the figure was a record 606,000. The latest figure could be as high as 700,000, the Daily Mail reported earlier this week.

2024 Toyota Yaris Cross gets more power and improved technology

Toyota has announced a number of upgrades for its compact Yaris Cross SUV, which includes key changes to its hybrid powertrain.

Following similar updates to the normal Yaris, Toyota promises that the Cross will offer a ‘completely new user experience’, with a configurable 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster introduced along with a touchscreen measuring up to 10.5 inches. Both are said to offer quicker responses, while a more responsive ‘Hey Toyota’ voice connectivity function is also available.

While a standard 114bhp 1.5-litre petrol-electric system remains, on top-spec GR Sport and Premiere Edition versions the same engine produces 130bhp while torque has been increased from 141 to 185Nm. The improvements come from a more powerful electric motor and a new transaxle. This helps to reduce the 0-60mph time by half a second to 10.7 seconds.

Weather

Rain in Scotland will move southwards into northern England and Northern Ireland, reports BBC Weather. Dry and cloudy elsewhere. A windy day with temperatures struggling to rise above 11 degrees.

The rain will continue to push south but it’ll fizzle out as it does so. Mainly dry, windy and the odd flurry of snow in the far north.

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer. In October 2021 he became Car Dealer's associate editor.

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