Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 1 August 2022

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


Sunak promises ‘radical’ tax cut

Rishi Sunak has promised the biggest income tax cut in 30 years – slashing the basic rate from 20% to 16% if he becomes PM. The Tory leadership hopeful said the “biggest income tax cut since Margaret Thatcher’s government” is a “radical vision”, but “also a realistic one”. However, a Liz Truss campaign source described the move as a “flip-flop”. Sunak had previously described Truss’ plans for tax cuts as “immoral” and dismissed them as “comforting fairytales”. Conservative Party members start to receive their ballot papers this week, with some able to submit their votes as early as today.


Queen praises victorious Lionesses

The Queen has led the tributes to England’s Uefa Women’s Euro 2022 winners, describing them as “an inspiration”. The Lionesses created history by winning their first major women’s tournament, with goals from substitutes Ella Toone and Chloe Kelly securing a 2-1 victory against Germany after extra-time at Wembley. The Guardian said England’s win is “only the beginning for the women’s game” and Sky News said that “if England are to capitalise on their Euros success, further investment will be needed in grassroots infrastructure, particularly to ensure a greater diversity in the talent pool”.


UK has ‘done least’ on fuel prices

The RAC said the UK has done less to ease the burden of high petrol prices than other European countries. In a table of European governments that have taken action to slash petrol taxes only Luxembourg performed worse. Sky News said the 5p per litre reduction implemented by the government in March is “dwarfed” by fuel tax cuts in Germany (25.1p per litre), Italy (21.2p per litre) and Portugal (16.2p per litre). An RAC spokesman said that Boris Johnson’s government has “pretty much done the least to support drivers through the current period of record high fuel prices”.


Covid waves ‘shorter and sharper’

Scientists have warned that Covid cases are bringing increasingly short periods of immunity and people could find themselves reinfected after just 28 days. Omicron has brought “shorter, sharper” waves of infections across the UK, said the i newspaper, with the Zoe Covid study app measuring a peak of around 350,000 cases a day earlier this month, before cases almost halved in the following two weeks. This year there have been three Omicron peaks within just seven months in the UK and a similar trend has already been seen in Australia and New Zealand and in some US states.


Top businessman killed in Ukraine

One of Ukraine’s wealthiest businessmen has been killed with his wife in Russian shelling of the southern city of Mykolaiv. Local officials said Oleksiy Vadatursky, 74, and his wife Raisa, died when a missile hit their home overnight. The death of Vadatursky – the founder of Nibulon, one of Ukraine’s largest grain producing and export companies – was a “great loss for Mykolaiv... and all of Ukraine”, said President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.


AI to detect hepatitis C

The NHS will use artificial intelligence (AI) to detect, screen and treat people at risk of hepatitis C, The Guardian reported. Hepatitis C, which is known as “the silent killer”, often does not have any noticeable symptoms until the liver has been severely damaged, which means thousands of people are living with the infection without realising it. The health service will identify people who may have the virus by using AI to scan health records for a number of key risk factors, such as historical blood transfusions or an HIV diagnosis.


Late appeal for Archie Battersbee

The Court of Appeal will hold a last-minute hearing in the case of Archie Battersbee, just hours before doctors are due to withdraw life support. The 12-year-old was expected to have treatment withdrawn at 2pm today, but following interventions from the government and the UN, a virtual court hearing will take place at 11am. Battersbee has been on life support since April after being found unconscious at home by his mother in Southend, Essex. Doctors said he is brain-stem dead and continued life-support treatment is not in his best interests.


Water companies fail on leaks

A quarter of water companies in England and Wales have failed to meet targets for reducing wasteful mains leakage, according to data from the regulator. Ofwat found that leakage has come down by 11% in five years, but only three quarters of water companies are meeting their individual leakage targets, which were brought in because a fifth of mains water was being lost daily. The Times noted that the news comes as “swathes of Britain face hosepipe bans” and the National Infrastructure Commission warns that it will cost up to £40bn to keep the UK supplied with water in coming decades.


Households face ‘impossible choices’

More than one in eight households believe they have no further way to make cuts to afford a sharp rise in annual energy bills this autumn. More than 25% of households earning less than £20,000 worry they will be unable to cope with higher bills, according to a study of 20,000 people by Legal & General. Families in Yorkshire, the south west and Northern Ireland are the least confident about covering their costs. Nigel Wilson, the chief executive of Legal & General, said that for some in the UK the “very tough financial choices” seem “impossible”.


Taliban clash with Iranian guards

Taliban forces from Afghanistan have clashed with Iranian border guards on the frontier between the two countries. Mawlawi Mohammad Ebrahim Hewad, the Islamic Emirate’s border commander in the province of Nimroz, told Afghanistan’s TOLOnews that a Taliban soldier had died in the fighting. He claimed Iranian forces began the fighting in the Kong district in Nimroz, but Iran’s state-run news agency IRNA said the disturbance was started by Taliban forces. There have been several clashes at the border since Taliban militants took over Afghanistan a year ago.


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