Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 24 Feb 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
No early end to lockdown - PM
Downing Street has denied reports in the Daily Telegraph that the plan to lift Covid restrictions could be accelerated if real-world data on the effect of vaccines is better than expected. Boris Johnson has insisted that dates attached to the lifting of measures were the earliest possible days on which they could be eased, but government sources quoted in the paper say reassuring data about the vaccine could allow some of the timings to come forward.
Summer schools for catch-up
Ministers have announced that secondary schools in England will be funded to run summer schools for pupils worst hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. The government is also proposing to spend £200m to expand its national tutoring programme and an additional £300m “recovery premium” which will go direct to schools to support the most disadvantaged children. However, the Education Policy Institute said the measures do not go far enough.
Extension for stamp duty break
Rishi Sunak is set to extend the stamp duty holiday by three months until the end of June, The Times reports. Last summer, the government exempted most buyers from the levy if they completed their purchases before 31 March - allowing people to save up to £15,000 in tax. The chancellor has been asked to extend the deadline to avoid a “cliff-edge”, jeopardising hundreds of thousands of sales.
Woods hurt in car accident
Tiger Woods is undergoing surgery for injuries to both legs after being pried from his car following an accident in Los Angeles yesterday. His SUV veered across the road, struck a tree and rolled over several times, police reported. LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva later said that Woods was lucky to survive the crash. He also said “there was no evidence of impairment” by alcohol.
Doorstep jabs for deprived regions
The government is being urged to offer Covid vaccines door to door in hard-to-reach, deprived and minority communities. The Guardian says the “stark disparity in vaccine uptake” has created fears that coronavirus could become a “disease of poverty”. Statistics last week revealed a huge disparity in vaccine uptake between people of different ethnicities.
Women on boards up 50%
Women now make up more than a third of top 350 UK company boards thanks to a “dramatic” shift in appointments. The government-backed Hampton-Alexander Review said the number of women on boards rose by 50% from 682 to 1,026 in five years. The news was welcomed by campaigners but they warned that progress in female representation at the highest levels remained “fragile and slow”.
Online hate warning
David Cameron, Tony Blair and the head of counter-terrorism policing have called for new laws to help the police tackle online extremism. A study by the government’s extremism watchdog has warned that Britain’s failure to tackle online hate is creating an “ever-bigger pool” from which terrorist groups can recruit. Cameron said that a failure to act would allow hate preachers to continue to “radicalise and poison the minds of so many people”.
Greece may accept Brits early
Greece may break with EU leaders and open its borders to vaccinated British tourists as early as May. The Athens government is discussing allowing British visitors who can prove that they have had the jab to visit during the summer. Ministers are also mapping out the logistics of vaccinating airport workers and hotel employees at resorts.
Depardieu accused of rape
Gerard Depardieu has been formally placed under investigation as a result of accusations that he raped an actress at his home three years ago. The woman accuses the French actor of raping and assaulting her in Paris in 2018. Depardieu, 73, said through his lawyer that he “totally disputes” the allegation. The French arts world has been “shaken” by a series of accusations of sexual abuse against leading figures, says the BBC.
Musk loses ‘richest’ title
Elon Musk has lost his status as the world’s richest person following a 20% slide in Tesla’s shares. The stocks endured particularly steep falls this week, tied to the firm’s recent $1.5bn (£1bn) investment in Bitcoin. Writing on Twitter over the weekend, Musk said that the price of Bitcoin did “seem high lol”. His loss was Jeff Bezos’ gain, as the Amazon founder returned to the top of the tree.