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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 17 July 2023

1

Rates rises push families into crisis

Rising interest rates are pushing more households into debt as incomes fail to cover basic costs, said the UK’s largest debt support charity. Citizens Advice said the number of people it was seeing who could no longer afford the property they were living in had almost doubled in a year. A report by the Resolution Foundation economic think tank said soaring interest rates had caused household wealth across Britain to fall by £2.1 trillion over the past year. This is the biggest fall since the Second World War, the think tank warned.

Why aren’t soaring interest rates bringing down inflation?

2

Record heatwaves across globe

“Hundreds of millions” of people “from the US to Europe and Asia” have been hit by severe heat, said The Guardian. Southern Europe is bracing for a second heat storm in a week while in the US, more than 100 million people are sweltering under extreme heat advisories. There are unconfirmed reports that China set a new national temperature record at 52.2C in Sanbao, Xinjiang Province on Sunday. “Incredibly”, tweeted BBC Weather, “it’s roughly six months since it also saw a record low temp of -53C, so in that short time it’s a swing of more than 100C”.

Is climate change to blame for Europe’s blistering heatwave?

3

Race row hits royals

The royal family has been dragged into an “n-word race row” after dozens of references to the offensive term were found in official documents, said The Independent. A catalogue published by the Royal Collection Trust contained more than 40 mentions of offensive racial terms, which are “mostly used to describe people of African ancestry who appear on jewels”, said the paper. A brooch is described as the “head of a n**** in three-quarter profile to the right”. A spokesperson for the Trust said documents were continually “under review”.

4

Sunak’s uni crackdown

Rishi Sunak has pledged to crack down on what he called “rip-off” degrees that do not lead to graduate jobs. Universities in England will be forced to limit the number of students they recruit onto underperforming courses, on the basis of data about each course’s graduate employment and dropout rates. Writing for The Telegraph, Sunak said too many young people are being sold a “false dream” that going to university will give them the skills they need to get a “decent job”. However, Labour has accused the government of “attacking the aspirations of young people”. Universities UK, an advocacy group, said any measures must be “targeted and proportionate, and not a sledgehammer to crack a nut”.

Is it time to rethink the value of a university degree?

5

Tony Blair backs BBC

Tony Blair has said the BBC should “stand up for itself more”. Asked about the corporation’s response to the Huw Edwards controversy, the former PM told Sky News: “I think it’s a great British institution … I mean, of course these things will hit them from time to time but I don’t think it means that the whole of the BBC is now a bad institution.” He added that “frankly, the BBC should stand up for itself a bit more, to be blunt about it”. As Blair re-emerges onto the political scene, the i news site said “the centrist silver fox is on the prowl in the political henhouse once again”.

BBC at 100: what does the future hold for at-threat institution?

6

Ad revenue plunges at Twitter

Twitter has lost almost half of its advertising revenue since it was bought by Elon Musk, the owner has revealed. In a tweet, Musk said the company had not seen the increase in receipts that had been expected in June, but added that July looked a “bit more promising”. However, the news is the “latest sign that aggressive cost-cutting measures since Musk acquired Twitter are not enough to get cashflow positive”, said The Guardian. Twitter is “struggling under a heavy debt load”, said the BBC, as rival app Threads now has an estimated 150 million users.

Tweet of clay: will Twitter’s demise bring down Elon Musk?

7

Gambling ads dominate football

Gambling logos appear up to 3,500 times during the course of a televised football match with the majority on pitchside hoardings, according to a study led by psychology experts from four universities. The Big Step, which wants football clubs to cut ties with the betting industry, said the data showed football clubs were not taking gambling’s links to addiction, financial problems and suicide seriously. The “disgusting level of gambling advertising around football stadiums is a national shame” and “shows why removing the ads from shirts is nowhere near enough”, said a spokesperson.

The sports betting epidemic: who picks up the tab?

8

Johnson not campaigning in Uxbridge

Boris Johnson has not campaigned in support of his potential successor in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election, claimed The Telegraph. The former PM has been absent from the campaign trail as voters in the seat prepare to choose a new MP on Thursday, in a by-election triggered by Johnson’s resignation. The paper added that Johnson and Steve Tuckwell are thought to have spoken just once on the phone, in a call that lasted around 30 seconds and in which Johnson “asked if Tuckewell had read his most recent column in the Daily Mail”, said the paper.

The make-or-break by-elections facing Rishi Sunak

9

Private jets threaten net zero

One in 10 flights from UK airports are now private jets, reported The Times. In the 10 years before Covid-19, private jets accounted for about 7.5% of all UK departures but that figure rose to more than 20% during the pandemic when conventional flights were grounded. The number has now reached around 10%, said the climate charity Possible. The growth in private flights “poses a challenge to Britain’s 2050 net zero goal”, said The Times with the planes carrying an average of three passengers or less.

The real climate cost of private jets

10

US ‘falls out of love with ice cream’

America’s “age-old love affair with ice cream” appears to be “winding down”, said CNN. In 1986, the average American ate 18 pounds of regular ice cream, according to the US Department of Agriculture, but by 2021, the most recent year of the data, that was down a third to just 12 pounds per person. The shift to premium brands means that ice cream could be “more of a treat than it is a staple that you would potentially have in your freezer,” said John Crawford, VP of client insights for dairy at Circana, a consumer research firm.

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