Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 18 August 2022

The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am

1

Most households to be pushed into fuel poverty

Two-thirds of UK households will be in fuel poverty by January, according to a new study by the University of York. The research suggested that 18m families, the equivalent of 45m people, will be left trying to make ends meet after further predicted rises in the energy price cap in October and January. Some 86.4% of pensioner couples are expected to fall into fuel poverty and 90.4% of lone parents with two or more children. Fuel poverty is generally defined as when energy costs exceed 10% of a household’s net income.

2

IFS attacks Truss tax plans

Liz Truss’ proposal to cut tax is “hard to square” with economic reality, according to a leading think tank. The Institute for Fiscal Studies said permanent tax cuts were not plausible because interest payments on the UK’s debt would reach £104bn next year. Truss’ rival, Rishi Sunak, said that the news drove a “coach and horses” through the foreign secretary’s economic plans. However, said Sky News, Truss is set to win the Tory leadership contest by a “decisive margin” after its poll gave the foreign secretary a 32-point lead over Sunak.

3

Flash floods after intense downpours

Flash floods have struck parts of southern England after heavy downpours began in London and the South East yesterday. The Environment Agency has also issued 17 flood alerts across England, with up to 100mm of rain possibly falling in some areas. As more heavy rain is forecast, the Met said that “potential impacts include the chance for some power cuts, difficult travelling conditions thanks to sudden changes in driving conditions and possible flooding of travel routes, homes and businesses”.

4

Suspect ‘surprised’ Rushdie survived

Salman Rushdie’s alleged attacker has said he is “surprised” the author survived. Speaking from jail in New York, Hadi Matar told the New York Post he could not believe the 75-year-old writer was still alive after being stabbed 10 times in the chest, face and leg. Asked if he was inspired by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s then-Supreme Leader, who issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s death in 1989, Matar said: “I respect the Ayatollah. I think he’s a great person.” He also admitted he only read “like two pages” of the author’s novel The Satanic Verses.

5

Train and bus strikes start

Passengers are facing further disruption over the next three days as tens of thousands of workers begin the latest round of strike action. Network Rail, several train companies, London Underground and London buses will be affected by industrial action due to walkouts over pay, jobs and conditions. Unions have “repeatedly accused the government of not enabling effective negotiations,” noted the BBC, but the transport secretary has insisted only employers and unions can settle their disagreements.

6

‘Most disrupted’ pupils brace for results

Students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be receiving A-level, T-level and BTec results this morning. The Times said tens of thousands of teenagers are expected to miss out on their first-choice university as “the most disrupted school leavers since the Second World War” receive their exam results. The first pupils to sit traditional exams since the start of the pandemic will be awarded about 80,000 fewer A and A* grades than last year’s students.

7

Ofgem director stands aside

A director of Ofgem has quit in protest at the energy regulator's decision to change the way it calculates the energy price cap, which will add hundreds of pounds to household bills this winter. Explaining her decision, Christine Farnish said she had resigned because she did not believe that the regulator had “struck the right balance between the interests of consumers and the interests of suppliers”. Ofgem said its change was necessary to prevent more suppliers going bust, after the costly failure of 29 companies over the past year.

8

Sewage warning for swimmers

Swimmers are being warned about safety at more than 50 of Britain’s beaches as water companies pump sewage into the sea. Surfers Against Sewage said there are pollution risk warnings in place in dozens of locations, including beaches all along the south coast, such as Bognor Regis, Yarmouth, Exmouth, and Newquay. Companies discharged raw sewage into rivers in England more than 400,000 times last year, according to figures from the Environment Agency.

9

Health chief issues fridge warning

The chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency has told families not to turn their fridges off as they face rising costs of energy. Having heard of people switching their fridges off to save on fuel bills, Dame Jenny Harries said this “creates the risk of infection in food”. Speaking to the BBC, she added that people should also try to keep the heating on, “particularly those at the extreme ages of life”.

10

Ronaldo cautioned over phone slap

Cristiano Ronaldo was cautioned by police over the video of him slapping a phone out of a young Everton fan’s hand at a match last season. Police said the Manchester United forward voluntarily attended a police interview and the matter has been dealt with by way of a conditional caution. After United suffered a 1-0 defeat at Goodison Park on April 9, the Portuguese star appeared to smash the phone out of 14-year-old Jacob Harding’s hand before disappearing from view. Harding’s mother said her autistic son could not sleep afterwards.

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