Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 8 August 2023


Is cost of living crisis ‘ending’?

Economists said that average pay is about to start rising faster than inflation for the first time in more than a year. New inflation figures, due next week, are expected to show a fall in the consumer price index from 7.9% in June to about 6.8% last month. Average earnings data, also due next week, is likely to show a rise in wages of slightly more than 7%. “Based on this measure”, Ashley Webb, UK economist for Capital Economics told The Times, “the cost of living crisis appears to be coming to an end”.

Interest rates rise to 5.25% for first time in 15 years


Migrants board housing barge

The first small group of asylum seekers has boarded a controversial housing barge after delays over safety concerns. Up to 500 men will eventually live on the Bibby Stockholm vessel in Dorset while they await the outcome of asylum applications. Ministers insist the barge is safe and will save money but human rights groups have called the scheme “inhumane”. Lawyers are attempting to stop further people being moved to the vessel, which they say is unsafe and unsuitable for traumatised people.

The cost of housing asylum seekers examined


Pollution linked to antibiotic issue

Air pollution is powering a rise in antibiotic resistance that poses a significant threat to human health worldwide, according to a major study. Analysis of data from more than 100 countries over nearly 20 years suggests that increased air pollution is linked with rising antibiotic resistance across every country and continent. It found that increases in air pollution levels coincided with larger rises in antibiotic resistance. “This analysis is the first to show how air pollution affects antibiotic resistance globally”, said the researchers in the Lancet Planetary Health journal.

Indoor air pollution: the dangers inside your home


Hospitalisations for Covid

Covid hospital admissions have risen, with a rate of 1.97 per 100,000, up from the previous week when the hospital admission rate was 1.47 per 100,000. Those aged over 85 were the highest affected age group. The new Omicron variant, named Eris after the Greek goddess of strife and discord, now accounts for as many as one in seven cases after it was first recorded in the UK last month. Meanwhile, said The Telegraph, Covid boosters will be axed for adults under 65 this winter as the health service attempts to “go back to normal”.

The new Covid variant Eris behind a rise in cases this summer


Rain slows down clothing sales

Wet weather in July caused a slowdown in UK retail sales. Overall retail sales grew 1.5% in July, down from 2.3% the year before, said the British Retail Consortium. Demand for clothing fell as people “felt less need to restock their summer wardrobes”, said the BBC. Britain’s “hard-pressed” retailers are being “forced to slash their prices to drum up business”, said The Guardian. “An increasing number of retailers” are offering promotional offers to “woo consumers reluctant to part with their cash”, it added.


Sunak under boiler pressure

Senior Tories are urging the prime minister to scrap a net zero ban on new oil boilers. Householders are being encouraged to switch to heat pumps under government proposals to help cut heating emissions, but George Eustice, a former environment secretary, is calling for the ban to be dropped – describing the policy as “a Ulez for rural communities”. More than 30 Tory MPs have written to Rishi Sunak, expressing concern the plan could disproportionately affect rural Conservative communities.

Will Sunak and Starmer drop green policies to win voters?


Man charged over boy’s death

A man is due in court over the death of a “beautiful happy” boy who was hit by a car on Saturday while crossing a motorway. The 12-year-old, who was killed in a hit-and-run on the M62 in West Yorkshire, has been named by police as Callum Rycroft, from Leeds. He had been walking on the motorway with a man after an earlier collision involving an Audi Q5 on the slip road to Hartshead Moor services. “The house is so quiet without him here”, said his mother.


HSBC criticised over Beijing links

Sherard Cowper-Coles, head of public affairs at the lender, said the government was “weak” for adhering to US demands to cut back dealings with Beijing. He has since apologised but HSBC is facing “growing scrutiny” of its activities in China and Hong Kong, where it has been accused by British MPs of “complicity in human rights abuses”, said The Telegraph.

SEP 2020: Hong Kong: how HSBC became wrapped up in China’s ‘security law’


Covid report delay criticised

The Covid inquiry is unlikely to report before the next general election on the impact of Tory austerity on the pandemic, said the i news site. Lady Hallett’s verdict on government preparations in the decade before the outbreak was due by early in the new year, but her conclusions are now expected to be delivered in the “early summer” of 2024, at the earliest. “The recommendations are being delayed while we continue to see the death toll rising”, said the Covid Bereaved Families For Justice campaign.

Covid inquiry: can it bring about meaningful change?


Bryant reveals groping experiences

A Labour MP has claimed that he has been repeatedly groped by male politicians during his time in Parliament. In his new book, Code of Conduct, Chris Bryant, the head of the Standards Committee, wrote that “over the years five male MPs have felt my bottom uninvited”. The openly gay MP added that one of the MPs “who still does not accept that he is gay, pushed me against a wall and felt my crotch”. Bryant has been a “vocal proponent” of the need to eradicate “sleaze” from the corridors of Westminster, said The Telegraph.



Greedflation: the claim that businesses are making inflation worse


How worried we should be about space debris


Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 12 September 2023


Politics and football pundits: should they stay on the sidelines?