Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 28 January 2022

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

1

Gray report ‘to be published in full’

Boris Johnson has promised that the official report into parties held at Downing Street during lockdown will be published “in full”. Lawyers and human resources experts need to finish checking the document containing Sue Gray’s findings before it can be handed to the government. It has emerged that dozens of people who attended the parties will be able to pay a fine rather than be interviewed by police. They are expected to be contacted in the coming weeks to be informed they are being issued with fixed penalty notices, said The Daily Telegraph.

2

PM ‘may scrap NI rise’

The Treasury is becoming “increasingly alarmed” that Boris Johnson may be preparing to scrap the national insurance rise, said The Guardian. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has privately insisted to MPs that the tax rise must go ahead as planned, but yesterday the prime minister again refused to commit to pressing ahead with the 1.25 percentage point rise in national insurance contributions. Johnson is being urged to shelve the unpopular policy amid rising cost of living pressures with household bills continuing to soar. 

3

GPs told to meet face-to-face

GPs are being told to resume face-to-face appointments after official figures showed just 61% of consultations in England took place in person in December, down from 63% the month before. The figure stood at 80% before the pandemic. Health chiefs wrote to all GPs yesterday, urging them to “restore routine service”. The Royal College of GPs said the figures revealed that GPs “are managing to deliver under intense workload and workforce pressures, that have only been exacerbated by the pandemic”.

4

Trump says he’ll be 47th president

Donald Trump confidently declared himself the 47th US president while playing golf at one of his clubs in Florida. In a now-viral social media video, an off-camera commentator describes him as the “45th President of the United States”. Trump, wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat, responds with “45th and 47th”. Trump hasn’t publicly said if he is planning to run for the White House again, but the former president told a crowd in Arizona last week: “We’re going to stage a comeback the likes of which nobody has ever seen.”

5

Bet365 boss tops tax list

Denise Coates, the gambling entrepreneur behind Bet365, has topped The Sunday Times Tax List for the third year in a row. Coates and her family contributed more than £480m in tax over the past 12 months. Businessman Alan Sugar, best known for The Apprentice, made his Tax List debut, with a £163.4m tax bill inflated by charges on a £390m dividend he paid himself last year. Author JK Rowling featured on the list again, paying almost £120m through Scotland’s self-assessment system over the past three years.

6

‘Dirty money’ blunts Russia sanctions

US officials reportedly fear that they will be unable to impose effective sanctions on Vladimir Putin if Russia invades Ukraine because of the volume of “dirty money” in London. Diplomatic sources told The Times that US State Department officials had expressed “dismay and frustration” at the British government’s failure to tackle the problem. “The fear is that Russian money is so entrenched in London now that the opportunity to use it as leverage against Putin could be lost,” a source in Washington said.

7

Solved crimes at record low

Police are solving the lowest proportion of crimes since records began, official figures show. According to Home Office data, just 6% of all crimes in the year to September 2021 resulted in a charge, equivalent to one in 17 offences being solved. That marks a fall from 7.3% the previous year and 15.5% six years ago. The proportion of rapes resulting in a charge has also fallen to a historic low. The news “will undermine public faith in a criminal justice system that is teetering on the brink”, said the Criminal Bar Association.

8

UK warned of cyberattack danger

The UK is being urged to bolster defences amid fears of cyberattacks linked to the conflict in Ukraine, the BBC reported. The National Cyber Security Centre has issued new guidance saying it is vital for companies to stay ahead of any potential threats. The warning follows a series of cyberattacks in Ukraine that are suspected to have originated in Moscow. In one such incident, hundreds of thousands of people lost power for hours after a series of Ukrainian power stations were hacked in December 2015. 

9

EU begins ban on farm antibiotics

A ban on the routine administration of low doses of antibiotics to groups of healthy animals comes into force across the EU from today. Experts are concerned that the practice breeds untreatable “superbugs” which could spread to humans, said The Independent. UK ministers have refused to commit to an outright ban on preventive use in the past, but a public consultation is being held this year. The use of farm antibiotics has significantly decreased over the past few years, but campaigners argue that the reduction hasn’t gone far enough. 

10

More women reach 30 child-free

Record numbers of women are reaching the age of 30 without having any children, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). More than half (50.1%) of women in England and Wales born in 1990 were child-free when they turned 30 in 2020 – almost three times higher than the 17.9% of those born in 1941. The ONS also found that the average number of children women have by the time they reach 30 has fallen to its lowest-ever level (0.96), reported The Guardian.

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