Mass mortgage defaults expected
The Financial Conduct Authority has warned that more than 750,000 households are at risk of defaulting on their mortgages over the next two years. As soaring borrowing costs make payments unaffordable, Britain’s financial regulator said that over 200,000 households had already fallen behind on payments by the end of June 2022 and a further 570,000 households were “at risk of payment shortfall” within the next two years. The news will “trigger fresh fears” that a “wave of forced property sales could bring down house prices in the coming months”, said The Telegraph.
Call for prepayment ban
The government is under pressure to stop the forced installation of prepayment meters after it emerged that 3.2m people were left with cold and dark homes last year as they ran out of credit. Suppliers have stepped up the use of court warrants to force their way into homes to install prepayment meters, with some magistrates approving hundreds of applications at a time. “There must be a total ban on energy companies forcing those already at breaking point on to prepayment meters,” said Citizens Advice. “If the energy regulator doesn’t act, the government must intervene.”
Johnson faces new partygate claims
Boris Johnson is facing allegations of a cover-up after it was claimed that key Partygate evidence was shredded. A whistleblower at No10 made the claims weeks before public hearings are expected to begin into whether Johnson misled MPs over the lockdown parties scandal. “There was a sense, and an implication, that we should start deleting evidence before an investigation,” a source told ITV’s Partygate: The Inside Story. “And a lot of people started shredding things.” Meanwhile, reported The Times, some of Johnson’s aides are believed to have had sex at 10 Downing Street during a lockdown party.
Innovator Beck dies at 78
The legendary rock guitarist Jeff Beck has died at the age of 78. The news was broken on his official Twitter page. “On behalf of his family, it is with deep and profound sadness that we share the news of Jeff Beck’s passing,” the statement said, adding that “after suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis, he peacefully passed away”. Beck rose to prominence as part of the Yardbirds, where he replaced Eric Clapton, before forming the Jeff Beck group with Rod Stewart. The guitarist, whose fingers and thumbs were insured for £7m, was regarded as a musical innovator.
Biden aides find new documents
Joe Biden’s legal team has found a fresh batch of classified government records at a second location, in a “growing political embarrassment for the White House”, said the BBC. Searches for additional paperwork took place after Biden’s lawyers found the initial classified documents in early November. The latest development “handed fresh ammunition” to Republicans seeking to draw a “false equivalence” with a justice department investigation into former president Donald Trump’s mishandling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida, said The Guardian.
Call for more black organ donors
New data from the NHS has revealed that black patients wait up to six months longer for an organ transplant than the general population. Only 2% of donors in 2021/22 were black, while black people make up 4% of the population, according to the BBC. The best organ matches come from someone of the same ethnicity and the NHS said there’s an “urgent need” for more people from ethnic minorities to donate. “Black people wait longer because there’s less people coming forward to give their organs from their ethnic group,” said Winnie Andango from NHS Blood and Transplant
Benefits overhaul considered
The Treasury is considering plans to allow people to “keep claiming sickness benefits after returning to work”, reported The Times. Ministers believe the current “perverse” assessment system encourages people to prove they are too ill to work. The government is also believed to be discussing plans to incentivise people to return to work by offering tax breaks. The news comes a week after the prime minister said that “we need to look at how our welfare system is operating”, questioning whether it was “incentivising people who can be to be in work”.
Putin shuffles the pack
Vladimir Putin has removed his top commander in Ukraine, just three months after he was installed. Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov will now take the lead, replacing Sergei Surovikin who has overseen recent brutal attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. The “reshuffle” comes as Russians claim they are “making progress in eastern Ukraine” after suffering a series of military defeats in recent months, said the BBC. However, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has mocked claims of Russian victory in Soledar.
Former Eton master charged with murder
A former master at Eton College has been charged with murdering his elderly mother at her home in the Cotswolds. Matthew Corry, 45 is accused of killing his 84-year-old mother, Beatrice Corry, in Chipping Campden. He did not enter a plea as he made a brief appearance at Bristol Crown Court, where he was remanded in custody. Corry, who was a master at Eton College until 2008, was educated at Papplewick preparatory school in Ascot, Berkshire.
Kind acts ‘better than therapy’
A new study has concluded that performing acts of kindness can reduce depression and may benefit some people more than therapies offered by the NHS. Researchers at the Ohio State University divided 122 adults with moderate or severe depression, anxiety and stress into three groups, one of which was asked to perform regular acts of kindness for others a couple of days each week. People in that group “showed a larger improvement in depressive symptoms after 10 weeks than others who were instead assigned cognitive behavioural therapy”, said The Times.