Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 29 July 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
UK ‘unprepared’ for extreme weather
Extreme weather will become the norm in the UK, according to a report by the Met Office and climate scientists. After 2020 was the third warmest, the fifth wettest and the eighth sunniest year on record, the report, published in the International Journal of Climatology, warns that moderate British weather is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. The scientists fear extreme weather is likely to cause severe problems, as most infrastructure in the UK has not been built to tolerate the sort of rainfall, heatwave temperatures and storms that are expected in the coming years.
Furlough scheme winds down
The furlough scheme will be wrapped up further from Sunday as the government asks employers to make a bigger contribution to the wage support package. An estimated 1.3m people were being paid through the scheme at the beginning of July, down from 5.1m in January. Employers’ groups have warned that cuts to the furlough scheme will endanger jobs and put Britain’s economic recovery at risk. The scheme has so far cost taxpayers almost £50bn.
Hillsborough victim dies
A Liverpool fan who was left with life-changing injuries during the Hillsborough disaster has died. The family of Andrew Devine, 55, said he died on Tuesday, 32 years after he was starved of oxygen during the crush at the FA Cup semi-final on 15 April 1989. Doctors had originally told his family he was unlikely to survive the day. Ninety-six other people died during the events at the match against Nottingham Forest. Liverpool FC said they were “deeply saddened” by his death.
Macron sues over Hitler posters
Emmanuel Macron is taking legal action against a billboard operator who displayed posters depicting him as Adolf Hitler. The posters, which appeared in the south of France, represented the French president as the Nazi leader complete with his distinctive moustache, full Nazi uniform and a swastika armband altered to read LREM – La République En Marche, the president’s governing party. Alongside the image was the slogan: “Obey. Get vaccinated.”
Queen lobbied for climate exemption
The Queen’s lawyers secretly lobbied ministers in Scotland to change a draft legislation to exempt her private land from a major initiative to cut carbon emissions. This means the Queen is the only person in the country not obliged to facilitate the construction of pipelines to heat buildings using renewable energy. The Guardian says the move appears “at odds” with the royal family’s public commitment to tackling the climate crisis.
House prices fall but boom may continue
House prices have fallen for the first time in four months, according to new data. Nationwide figures show that the average value of a home fell 0.5% to £244,229 in July. Analysts say the loss of momentum is largely down to the end of the stamp duty tax break in England, with the maximum saving on the tax having been reduced from £15,000 to £2,500. However, says The Telegraph, “ultra-low interest rates, household savings and a long-term shift in the way people work and commute” could help push prices up again.
Ferguson ‘overconfident’ on forecasts
A leading forecaster has criticised Professor Neil Ferguson for his “overconfident” prediction that Covid cases could rise to 100,000 a day. Ferguson, vice-dean at Imperial College London’s School of Public Health and a government adviser, warned earlier this month that it was “almost inevitable” that there would soon be 100,000 cases a day. Nate Silver, a statistician who founded pollster FiveThirtyEight and correctly called the results of the 2008 US presidential election, said: “I don’t care that the prediction is wrong, I’m sure this stuff is hard to predict. It’s that he’s consistently so overconfident.”
Abramovich sues over Putin claims
Roman Abramovich has claimed that allegations that he bought Chelsea FC to extend Moscow’s influence in Britain are defamatory during the first day of a court case triggered by a new book. Speaking at the High Court, the billionaire said the book about Vladimir Putin’s rise to power portrays him as a “cashier” for the Russian leader and a custodian of “slush funds”. Abramovich and the Russian state energy company Rosneft are suing HarperCollins and author Catherine Belton personally for libel over Putin’s People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took On the West.
Bills to rise to cover net-zero target
The National Infrastructure Commission has warned that families will have to pay up to £400 more a year for food, goods and travel to allow industries to cover the cost of removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. In a report, the advisory group said that taxpayers must spend up to £400m over the next decade to help create an industry to store the gases if Britain is to meet its carbon pledge.
Grandparent ruling at age tribunal
A tribunal has ruled that referring to a work colleague as a grandparent counts as age discrimination even if they are one. The ruling came after Anne Dopson sued her employer, a publishing company, because a colleague wrote a car review in which she was described as “a grandmother”. Dopson, who has three grandchildren and was 62 at the time, complained that the reference had been “a dig at my age” and “raised a laugh in the office”.