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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 20 May 2023

1

Inflation ‘to fall next week’

Inflation is expected to drop next week. The Consumer Prices Index – which measures the average increase in the prices of goods and services purchased by many households – is expected to fall significantly from its current rate of 10.1 per cent to between 8 and 85 per cent. Lower inflation “could spell good news for many mortgage holders”, said the inews site, “as experts say it may decrease the likelihood of a further interest rate rise next month”.

2

Private GPs on the rise

Patients are paying up to £550 an hour to see private GPs, reported The Guardian. Growing numbers of paid-for GP services are opening up across the country, cashing-in on public frustration over delays in getting an appointment with an NHS family doctor. Although the number of patients accessing a private GP is “small compared with the one million a day in England who see an NHS family doctor”, said The Guardian, “it is growing fast as the NHS is struggling with a deepening shortage of full-time GPs”.

3

US makes ‘historic’ jet decision

Washington said it will allow Western allies to supply Ukraine with advanced fighter jets, including American-made F-16s. US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Joe Biden “informed his G7 counterparts” of the decision at the bloc’s summit in Japan on Friday. The news is “a significant boost to western support for Kyiv as it prepares a major counteroffensive”, said The Guardian. President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed the move as a “historic decision”.

4

Heads warn of AI danger

Head teachers have warned that artificial intelligence is the greatest threat to education and the government is responding too slowly to its dangers. In a letter to The Times, a group of heads from some of the country’s top schools have warned of the “very real and present hazards and dangers” posed by the technology. The signatories, led by Sir Anthony Seldon, the head of Epsom College, said schools are “bewildered” by AI.

5

Hunt dismisses ‘corrosive’ negativity

The chancellor has warned that Britain is at risk of talking itself into economic decline because of a growing sense of “insidious” and “corrosive” negativity. Writing in The Telegraph, Jeremy Hunt claimed that critics across the political spectrum who portray the country as on the slide risk making a “self-fulfilling prophecy”. His article comes as household energy bills are expected to fall by an average £500 from July, noted the paper.

6

Prisons ‘waiting to blow’

British jails are a “powder keg waiting to blow” as they face record levels of overcrowding, said The Independent. Data released by the Ministry of Justice show more than 85,000 inmates are now locked up in England and Wales, with just hundreds of spaces remaining in prisons across the two countries. The government is building 1,000 portacabins to ease overcrowding, as well as doubling inmates up in single cells and bringing forward moves into open prisons.

7

Voters denied by ID rule

Thousands of people did not vote in the recent local elections as they did not have correct ID, reported the BBC. Data collected from 160 of 230 councils where polls were held this year shows 26,165 voters were initially denied ballot papers at polling stations. Of these, 16,588 people came back with valid ID, but 9,577 did not return. England’s local elections on 4 May were the first where people had to show photo ID, such as a passport or driving licence, to vote in person.

8

Lawyer tells West to come clean

Rose West’s former solicitor has pleaded with the serial killer, now aged 69, to admit her crimes and reveal if there are any other victims. Leo Goatley represented West after she and her husband were first arrested in 1994 and he has now urged her to “find redemption” by confessing. However, noted The Mirror, after 30 years in jail, West is still “pleading total innocence” of every “sickening, depraved crime she and her husband Fred committed”.

9

Tesco boss stands aside

John Allan will stand down as chair of Tesco after allegations of inappropriate behaviour. Allan, who has been chair of the UK’s biggest supermarket since 2015, will step down at the retailer’s AGM in June. Earlier this month, The Guardian reported that Allan allegedly touched the bottom of a senior member of Tesco staff in June 2022, at the company’s last AGM. Byron Grote, currently a senior independent director, will take over as chair until the appointment of a permanent replacement.

10

Sunak’s socks sell out

Bright red socks worn by the prime minister on his visit to Japan have sold out after they were featured in the nation’s media. Rishi Sunak “caused a Princess of Wales-style run on clothing” after he was seen wearing the £8 socks bearing the logo of a Hiroshima baseball team, Toyo Carp, said The Telegraph. Within hours, all the red socks were sold out in all Sock Shops in the Hiroshima region. The socks sold out online too.

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