Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 27 March 2022

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

1

US backtracks on Putin comment

The White House said Joe Biden was not calling for regime change when he said Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power”. Earlier, the US president said “for God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power” during a speech in Poland. The Kremlin responded by saying: “That’s not for Biden to decide - the president of Russia is elected by Russians.” The White House has now intervened, saying “the president’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbours or the region”.

2

International nurses ‘trapped’ by fee

International nurses working for NHS trusts and private care homes are required to pay thousands of pounds if they try to leave, it has emerged. In extreme cases, said The Observer, nurses are tied to their roles for up to five years and face fees as steep as £14,000 if they want to change job or return home early. The Royal College of Nursing and human rights lawyers are calling for an urgent government review into the clauses, which are designed to retain staff and recover recruitment costs. They also cover hiring expenses such as flights to the UK, visas and the fee for training and competency exams

3

Middle-classes flock to food banks

Food banks say a growing number of middle-class Britons are coming to them in “desperate” need of help. Charity bosses told The Independent they had seen a rise in people with full-time jobs who cannot cope with rising energy bills and food prices. William McGranaghan, manager at the Dad’s House food bank in London, said he “without a doubt” expected to see more middle-class people when gas and electricity bills rise next month, adding: “People who have never experienced poverty will be pulled into hardship this year.”

4

William breaks royal protocol

The future relationship between the UK and Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas is for their people to decide, Prince William has said. Following an eight-day tour of the Caribbean nations to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the Duke of Cambridge said that he and the duchess were “committed to service” and that “for us that’s not telling people what to do”. The Sunday Times said his statement broke with royal protocol, adding that William and Kate have “experienced an unexpected buffeting” during their “eight-day tropical charm offensive”.

5

Sunak mulls new tax rebate

The chancellor is considering a fresh council tax rebate after his spring statement, reported The Sunday Times. Rishi Sunak is already weighing up another multibillion-pound package to help shield households from a further surge in fuel bills this autumn. At a meeting of special advisers on Friday, one source present said that the cost-of-living issue had “shot up” the polling graph faster than any other in recent years. “The cost-of-living issue is a train about to hit us,” they said.

6

North Korea ‘planning nuclear tests’

North Korea may be preparing to carry out a nuclear weapons test for the first time in more than four years, according to a report in South Korea. Government sources said North Korea appeared to be digging a “shortcut” to Tunnel 3 at its previously closed nuclear test site in Punggye-ri. Pyongyang conducted six nuclear weapons tests in tunnels at the site from 2006 to 2017.It has been closed since North Korea’s self-imposed moratorium on nuclear weapons tests in 2018.

7

Murdoch’s hacking bid fails

The publisher of the News of the World has failed to impose a deadline on potential victims of the phone-hacking scandal to make claims against it. Rupert Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers asked for litigation to be brought to an end 15 years after the scandal broke. Lawyers representing victims argued that there could be as many as “20,000 to 25,000 potential victims of NGN’s unlawful information gathering” and there should be no cut-off date for claims.

8

Minimum school hours on cards

Children should have at least 32.5 hours of school each week, the government will announce next week. The 32.5-hour school week is equivalent to 8.45am to 3.15pm for five days a week, said the Sunday Telegraph, and while officials believe that most schools already adhere to this there are discrepancies. A child who receives 20 minutes less of teaching time per day would lose out on around two weeks of schooling per year. Ministers have been under pressure to extend the school day to help children catch up on learning time lost during the Covid pandemic.

9

Hawkins had drugs in system

Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins had cannabis, opioids and other drugs in his system before he died, Colombian investigators say. The 50-year-old died at a hotel in Bogota, with the band due to play at a music festival this weekend. The Mail on Sunday said he had 10 different types of drugs in his system when he died, including tricyclic antidepressants, and benzodiazepines. Investigators said they were working “to achieve full clarity of the facts that led to [Hawkins’] death”.

10

Can Smith win first Oscar?

Hollywood is preparing for the 94th Academy Awards in Los Angeles later, with Will Smith, Benedict Cumberbatch and Dame Judi Dench in the running for Oscars. Despite being in the business for 30 years, Smith has never won an Oscar. Director Jane Campion’s Western The Power of the Dog leads the field with 12 nominations. Bosses have hired three female comics to oversee the event - Regina Hall, Wanda Sykes and Amy Schumer.

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