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News Round-Up

Oct 2: Hunt on tougher welfare rules; Water firms to ask for extra £156 a year; Get a flu jab – NHS

Here are the headlines on Monday, October 2

Time 6:37 am, October 2, 2023

Hunt to set out tougher welfare rules and boost living wage at Tory conference

Tougher rules on benefits and a boost to the national living wage will form part of a Tory plan to get more people into work, Jeremy Hunt will say.

The chancellor will use his speech at the Conservative Party conference to promise the national living wage will increase to at least £11 an hour from April.

But alongside that he will look again at the benefit sanctions regime to make it harder for people to claim welfare while refusing to take ‘active steps’ to move into work, with proposals due to be set out in November’s Autumn Statement.


Water firms ask for bills to rise by £156 per year by 2030 to fund upgrade plan

Water companies have set out a five-year plan to prevent 140,000 sewage overflow spills per year — but will ask for customer bills to rise by about £156 annually to fund overall improvements.

Providers will invest £96bn in the second part of the decade — almost double the current levels — in proposals companies say will pay for 10 new reservoirs, cut leaks and stop the equivalent of 6,800 Olympic swimming pools-worth of sewage spills.

Industry body Water UK said private firms had agreed to more than double the number of households that will receive financial support, rising by 2.0m to 3.2m. Consumers will be asked to pay higher bills to pay for the upgrades, with Water UK setting out that under the proposals the average bill in England is expected to be £7 per month higher by 2025 compared with 2023’s prices. That will escalate to £13 per month extra by 2030, equivalent to £156 more per year.


Cleverly announces visit to Falkland Islands amid ongoing dispute

The foreign secretary has announced he will visit the Falkland Islands to demonstrate support for the territory’s self-determination.

James Cleverly has been embroiled in a dispute with Argentina since earlier this year, when Buenos Aires pulled out of a co-operation agreement for the Falklands.

On Sunday, Cleverly told a late-night drinks reception at the Conservative Party Conference he would be visiting the archipelago following a ‘run-in’ with the Argentinian government.

Wallace: I asked PM to give Ukraine £2.3bn more for battle with Russia

Former defence secretary Ben Wallace has said he urged the prime minister to increase military support to Ukraine by more than £2bn — a rise of 50 per cent.

The veteran Conservative argued that with extra Western weapons, Kyiv could ‘end’ the battle against Russia and expel the invaders.

Wallace, an ally of Boris Johnson, stepped down from the defence brief in a mini-reshuffle in August, having already announced his decision not to contest the next general election. No 10, which said it would not be responding to Wallace’s remarks, has requested the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) views on future spending, according to the Telegraph.

Public blames government for long NHS waiting list – BMA

The public blames the Government for the 7.7 million-long NHS waiting list in England, which is set to get worse because of more strikes, according to a report.

Junior doctors and consultants will launch their longest period of combined industrial action on Monday, walking out for three days in a long-running dispute over pay. Both sets of staff took joint action earlier this month for the first time in the history of the NHS.

Since the strikes began, the cumulative total of acute inpatient and outpatient appointments having to be rescheduled has exceeded a million. The industrial action earlier this month led to almost 130,000 inpatient and outpatient appointments being rescheduled.


People urged to get flu jabs to reduce NHS pressure this winter

People are being urged to get their flu jabs to help relieve pressure on the NHS ahead of winter.

Health officials said flu placed a greater strain on hospitals than Covid-19 last year.

According to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), flu led to more than 14,000 excess deaths in the winter of 2022/23 and more than 10,000 children were admitted hospital with the illness. However, modelling carried out by the organisation revealed the flu vaccine programme prevented about 25,000 hospital admissions last winter, with a little under 50,000 recorded for the season.

Weekend Car Dealer headlines you might have missed

Three-quarters of small boat arrivals would be granted asylum, study suggests

Three-quarters of people who have crossed the Channel on small boats this year would be recognised as refugees if their application had been processed, analysis of government figures suggests.

The study by the Refugee Council also found that once the Illegal Migration Act is fully enforced, as few as 3.5 per cent of people arriving would be returned to their home countries every year, while thousands of remaining migrants would be left in limbo and could ‘disappear’ into destitution on the margins of society.

The Act, hailed by the government as key to deterring small boat crossings, became law on July 20. But there is currently no timeline for the implementation of the legislation’s main elements, including the duty to remove people deemed to have arrived in the UK illegally and block them from making asylum claims.

Home battery owners earned up to £26 in trial for selling power to the grid

Energy customers who owned a home battery earned up to £25.60 for selling their electricity back to the grid in a first-of-its-kind for the UK trial last winter.

The results of a trial run by battery company SolarEdge and Smart Metering systems showed that battery-owning homes got a lot more money back from the grid than those who simply turned off their appliances.

Last winter, to help ensure that the lights stay on, National Grid introduced the so-called Demand Flexibility Service (DFS), designed to reward customers for reducing how much electricity they used at certain times. People were texted in advance of a so-called demand flexibility event, telling them they would get paid if they reduced their consumption at a specific hour.

Predictions of death of the high street ‘overstated’, says John Lewis

Predictions of the death of the high street have been ‘overstated’, John Lewis has said, as it announced its proportion of sales being made online has fallen and store visits are up.

The department store chain’s commercial director Kathleen Mitchell said 81 per cent of sales during the height of lockdowns were over the internet, but this had fallen back to 57 per cent, while store customers were up eight per cent on last year.

The report reveals that, despite the washout summer, handheld fans were John Lewis’s best-selling product of the year, with sales up 481 per cent year on year. Other top sellers were men’s boxer shorts, thought to have been adopted by women as outerwear, strapless bras and outdoor sofas.

Weather

A cloudy day for the south with outbreaks of rain in the afternoon, reports BBC Weather. Sunny spells elsewhere but the north-west will see blustery showers. Still warm in the south, though, with highs of 22 degrees.

Tonight, showers in the south will push eastwards with potentially thundery downpours as they push through the south-east. Clear and showery elsewhere.

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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