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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 25 January 2023

1

Germany and US to send tanks

The US and Germany plan to send tanks to Ukraine, in what Kyiv hopes will be a “game-changer on the battlefield”, said the BBC. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has reportedly decided to send at least 14 Leopard 2 tanks and Washington is expected to announce plans to send at least 30 M1 Abrams tanks. Kyiv has been “pleading for months” for Western nations to send tanks to give its forces the “firepower and mobility” it hopes will be able to break through Russian defensive lines and recapture territory occupied by Russia, said Sky News.

Are Western battle tanks really a silver bullet for Ukraine?

2

Tory says Zahawi is ‘dead man walking’

Nadhim Zahawi is a “dead man walking” and could destroy the standing of Rishi Sunak, Tory MPs have warned. “He’s a dead man walking and the PM looks weak,” a former minister told the inews site. “He needs to act decisively now or he will start to lose all his credit with MPs.” Meanwhile, said The Times, neither Rishi Sunak nor Liz Truss were informed about the former chancellor’s settlement with HMRC. Sunak is expected to face more criticism over the episode at Prime Minister’s Questions later.

Back to basics: can Sunak stave off return of Tory sleaze?

3

Hunt ‘loses autumn headroom’

The Office for Budget Responsibility has told Jeremy Hunt that it overestimated the prospects for medium-term growth in the economy last year and it intends to revise its forecasts down. The downgrade would “wipe out” all of the government’s £9.2bn headroom in the chancellor’s autumn statement and limit his scope for manoeuvre as he draws up plans for the budget. Hunt has also reportedly been surprised by a spike in public borrowing, with a Treasury source saying the amount was “way higher” than expected.

Five main points from the chancellor’s Autumn Statement

4

Bots to decide who gets seen by doctors

“Dr Robot” will decide who gets seen first as the NHS bids to clear waiting lists, said The Telegraph. The NHS is reportedly planning to use automatisation in about 100 areas, with pilot schemes using automated calls to assess patients waiting for operations and prioritise their urgency. There are concerns about how the elderly will react to automated calls and critics also noted that 1,800 patients were accidentally wiped from lists in one scheme at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospital NHS Trust because the robot’s “memory capacity” became full.

Why the entire NHS system is ‘on its knees’ – and what should be done to fix it

5

Drag queen’s death investigated

Police are investigating the death of a well-known drag queen who was found dead in a city centre alleyway in Cardiff. Darren Moore, 39, was last seen in the early hours of Sunday morning while wearing full face make-up, a luminous green dress, blonde wig and heels. Detective Chief Inspector Paul Raikes, who is leading the investigation, said a post-mortem has been conducted. “I would like to respectfully ask people to refrain from speculating on social media about what has occurred and please let the police investigation take its course,” he said.

6

North of England underinvestment claim

The north of England would rank second worst for investment if it were an OECD country, according to a thinktank. Researchers at IPPR North, the northern branch of the influential Institute for Public Policy Research, said only Greece has lower levels of public and private investment in a ranking of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries. The news comes a week after the government’s second round of levelling up funding sparked accusations of favouritism towards Conservative seats.

Levelling up: simple sound bite or social imperative? 

7

Excess deaths soar again

Official data shows that excess deaths have reached their highest number since the second wave of the pandemic. Some 17,381 people died in England and Wales in the week ending 13 January, 2023. The Telegraph noted that the five-year pre-pandemic average for deaths was 14,544, meaning there were 2,837 excess deaths last week alone. Less than 5% of the excess deaths were from Covid, with high flu rates, record NHS waiting lists for routine operations, ambulance and A&E delays, and unmet needs from the pandemic year also blamed.

Non-Covid excess deaths: why are they rising?

8

New rape claim against Tyson

A woman is suing Mike Tyson, alleging that he raped her in the early 1990s. The woman is using a New York law that offers victims of sexual crimes a window of time to seek redress for cases that are decades old. She says that she met the boxer at a nightclub in Albany, New York. He offered her a lift to a party and violently raped her in his limousine, she claims. Tyson was previously convicted of rape in 1992 and served three years in prison. He has yet to comment on the latest allegation.

9

Pension age could be raised sooner

People will have to work for longer before claiming the state pension under plans to raise the official retirement age to 68 sooner than initially planned. The present threshold of 66 was due to be raised to 68 in 2046. However, ministers are looking at bringing forward the change to as early as 2035, affecting those who are 54 and under today. Experts said bringing the move forward would spare the taxpayer about £10bn but sceptics said it would disrupt the plans of those already planning for retirement.

Should areas with lower life expectancy receive an early pension?

10

Bieber sells his catalogue

Justin Bieber has sold his share of the rights to his music for a reported $200m. Hipgnosis Songs Capital will now receive a royalty every time a song they own part of is played in public. Musicians are increasingly selling stakes in their work to music funds,with stars including Justin Timberlake and Shakira also striking deals with Hipgnosis, a $1bn (£811m) venture between Hipgnosis Song Management and the financial firm Blackstone. Its founder said hit songs can be “more valuable than gold or oil”.

Business of music rights: Shakira becomes latest star to sell back catalogue

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