Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 7 January 2022
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Tax freeze to put 1m in higher rate
More than a million people will be pushed into the higher rate tax band by 2026, according to analysis by the House of Commons Library. The Treasury’s plan to freeze income tax thresholds will push more than 1.2m workers’ earnings above the 40% income tax threshold in the next four years. The prediction comes at a time of rapid wage and price inflation, with economists warning that Britain is facing the biggest cost of living crisis for a generation.
Russian ‘peacekeepers’ cross border
Dozens of protesters and at least 12 police officers have died in violence in Kazakhstan, as “peacekeepers” from a Russian-led military alliance arrived in the country at the request of the embattled authoritarian president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. The president has blamed foreign-trained “terrorists” for the unrest, without giving evidence. The UN, US, UK, and France have called on all sides to refrain from violence.
Djokovic ‘held captive’ in Australia
Novak Djokovic’s family have said the tennis champion is being “held captive” in an Australian immigration hotel while lawyers fight for his right to remain in the country. Relatives of the Serbian tennis player held a press conference in Belgrade after he was detained at Melbourne airport over his Covid vaccination status. Other Australian Open players given exemptions similar to Novak Djokovic’s are also now under investigation.
Maxwell jurors spoke of abuse
A second juror from the Ghislaine Maxwell trial talked about being sexually abused as a child during deliberations, prompting her lawyers to prepare a motion arguing that she deserves another hearing. Legal experts said that the jurors’ disclosures could undermine the verdict against Maxwell, particularly if it is proved that they did not answer the jury questionnaires honestly. Maxwell was convicted on five charges relating to the trafficking and transportation of teenagers who were sexually abused by the late financier Jeffrey Epstein.
PM apologises to ethics adviser
Boris Johnson has offered a “humble and sincere” apology to Lord Geidt, his ethics adviser, for withholding critical messages from an inquiry into the refurbishment of the prime minister’s Downing Street flat. The PM has been accused of corruption after it emerged that he sought funds for his flat refurbishment from a Conservative donor while promising to consider plans for a mystery “great exhibition”.
Dementia to triple by 2050
Dementia cases are expected to almost triple across the world by 2050, experts are warning. Researchers in The Lancet Public Health journal say that by 2050, more than 153m people could have the condition, up from 57m in 2019. Although the predicted rise is largely down to ageing and growing populations, unhealthy lifestyles including high rates of smoking, obesity and diabetes are also a factor. Dementia is already the seventh leading cause of death worldwide.
Mone accused of PPE sleaze
Leaked paperwork suggests the Conservative peer Michelle Mone and her husband were secretly involved in a PPE business that was awarded more than £200m in government contracts after she referred it to the Cabinet Office. A person closely involved in PPE Medpro claimed Mone’s husband was “part of the financial consortium that backed” the company and was involved in conversations with the government. Mone is also being investigated for an allegedly racist message she is accused of sending to a man of Indian heritage.
Ladbrokes pressed to return furlough funds
Ladbrokes claimed £102m from the furlough scheme, it has emerged, despite rapid growth in online betting making up for all losses from the closure of stores. The bookmaker claimed £57.5m in 2020 and a further £44m this year but. Its parent company, Entain, said the money protected 14,000 jobs, and is “under review”. Rival bookmaker William Hill opted to return £24.5m of furlough money in August 2020.
Troops to plug NHS shortages
Some 200 armed forces personnel are being deployed to support the NHS in London as hospitals face staff shortages. The Royal College of Nursing has said the development means the government can no longer deny there is a “staffing crisis” within the NHS. The latest Covid report from the UK Health Security Agency shows a steep rise in the number of over-85s being admitted to hospital in England. Sky News said the data will “send shudders through NHS”.
Bird flu man kept ducks in home
A man who caught a potentially lethal form of bird flu had been keeping 20 ducks inside his home and scores more outside, his relatives have said. Alan Gosling, 79, contracted avian flu in Buckfastleigh in Devon after he adopted a flock of Muscovy ducks. He is in isolation but not ill, officials said, and there is no evidence that the virus has been transmitted to anybody else. Human-to-human transmission of bird flu is very rare.