The chancellor is preparing an announcement of squeezed public sector pay in light of the economic shock of the pandemic, according to reports.
Government sources say the announcement will be part of a mini-budget on Wednesday and will include plans to launch a Whitehall savings drive to tackle record levels of borrowing.
It will also see the tightening of public servants’ pay – many of whom were at the forefront of the government’s pandemic response.
Up to five million public sector workers are reportedly facing the pay freeze.
Those set to foot the bill for the government’s spending include soldiers, police officers, teachers and civil servants.
It is understood that NHS staff, nurses and doctors are exempt from the pay cap.
Rishi Sunak is expected to argue that it is ‘not fair’ public sector workers receive pay rises while private sector employees are losing jobs and enduring pay cuts.
In real terms, public sector pay is falling behind where it was a decade ago due to Tory austerity.
In July, Sunak launched a spending review where he warned that public sector pay would need to keep ‘parity’ with private-sector wages.
He wrote at the time: “In the interest of fairness we must exercise restraint in future public sector pay awards, ensuring that, across this year and the spending review period, public sector pay levels retain parity with the private sector.”
The rightwing thinktank, Centre for Policy Studies (CPS), explained that freezing the wages of 5.5million public sector employees for three years would save £23 billion on the Treasury bill. It is expected Rishi Sunak will use this report as the basis in his consideration.
Stopping wage increases would, in effect, be a pay cut as wages would not keep up with the rate of inflation which is currently 0.5%.
Instead, if the pay rise was capped to just 1%, analysts think this could ‘save’ up to £11.7billion.
The CPS – set up by Margaret Thatcher and whose director was one of the leading authors of the 2019 Conservative manifesto – claims private-sector workers have ‘suffered far more than those in the public sector’.
It says in its ‘Public Sector Pay: The Case for Restraint’ report: “The economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been severe, but the pain has not been shared equally.
“Some businesses are folding under the strain, public finances have been decimated, while the public sector has escaped relatively unscathed.
“Healthcare workers aside, it is difficult to justify generous pay rises in the public sector when private sector wages are actually falling.
“At the same time, there is a need to control public spending and reduce the structural deficit which the pandemic is likely to have opened up.
“The Chancellor should redress this imbalance by showing restraint when it comes to pay and pensions in the public sector.”
Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said: “Freezing their pay is no way to reward key workers for their service. Unions will fight for the proper pay rise they have earned. Working people must not bear the burden of the crisis.”
Dave Prentis, the general secretary of Unison, said: “The government must do what’s right next week and announce the wage rise staff have more than earned. Anything less risks destroying morale when the entire country is counting on them.”
Rehana Azam, national secretary of the GMB trade union, said: “Billions are being wasted, flowing out of Treasury into the pockets of their chums. Some people are benefiting from the pandemic while our workers are working throughout it.
“It’s dangerous territory for the chancellor if he imposes pay restraint as a way of offsetting the cost of the pandemic. We’re not through it, we’re still in it. Does he really want to do this when people’s morale is so low?
“When people have lost loved ones and people they’ve worked with, is now the time to kick them even more? I don’t think it would go down well.”
Student suffers severe heart failure after drinking four cans of energy drink a day
‘I believe they are very addictive and far too accessible to young children’
A young man who consumed two litres of energy drink a day was admitted to intensive care with severe heart failure.
According to a leading medical journal, the university student landed himself in hospital after drinking four cans of energy drink per day.
The 21-year-old spent nearly two months in intensive care due to heart failure, with the British Medical Journal stating this was ‘potentially related to excessive energy drink consumption’ in a report.
According to the report, the man drank four 500ml energy drinks every day for two years, becoming so ill that medics thought he might require an organ transplant.
The patient went on to describe his medical episode as ‘traumatising’, eventually seeking medical help after he suffered from weight loss and shortness of breath for roughly four months.
Doctors performed blood tests, scans, and ECG readings, and found that he had both kidney and heart failure – however, the kidney failure was discovered to be linked to a previously undiagnosed condition.
Each energy drink the man was consuming contained around 160mg of caffeine, and medics said that ‘energy drink-induced cardiotoxicity’ was the most likely cause of the severe heart failure.
In the report, the authors from Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust wrote: “We report a case of severe biventricular heart failure potentially related to excessive energy drink consumption in a 21-year-old man.”
They said the conclusion to their report ‘adds to the growing concern in the literature about the potential cardiotoxic effects of energy drinks’, adding that the man’s heart function seems to have returned to normal nine months later but with ‘mildly impaired function’.
The recovered patient added his own thoughts to the article, saying: “When I was drinking up to four energy drinks per day, I suffered from tremors and heart palpitations, which interfered with my ability to concentrate on daily tasks and my studies at university.
“I also suffered from severe migraine headaches which would often occur during the periods when I did not drink energy drink; this also restricted my ability to perform day-to-day tasks and even leisurely activities such as going to the park or taking a walk.”
He added: “I think there should be more awareness about energy drinks and the effect of their contents.
“I believe they are very addictive and far too accessible to young children. I think warning labels, similar to smoking, should be made to illustrate the potential dangers of the ingredients in energy drink.”
Drivers could soon be fined for parking on the pavement under new rules
Make sure you’re aware of the proposed rule changes
A ban on parking on the pavement could soon be implemented across England, under new laws which are expected to be rolled out this year.
Parking on pavements would be a thing of the past, with £70 penalty fines for offenders coming into effect under the proposed new rules.
According to reports, the new legislation would see a ban on antisocial parking introduced, in a bid to make pavements safer for people with disabilities and visual impairments, as well as families.
The changes to the law which are being considered have already been implemented in London and would be rolled out nationwide.
They come in response to complaints about pavement parking and the risks it brings with it to those whose use pavements, with the Department for Transport (DfT) initially launching a proposal on the subject in September 2020.
The proposals came after a review discovered that almost half of wheelchair users and a third of visually impaired people were less willing to go out on the streets alone due to ‘antisocial’ parking on the pavement.
A spokeswoman from the DfT explained to The Mirror that the government is currently collating responses after receiving ‘overwhelming’ feedback.
The public consultation period for the proposals ended back on November 22nd, and as such a decision on the plan is expected imminently.
However, Mark Tongue, director of Select Car Leasing has said that ‘the guidelines are currently quite confusing for motorists’.
The motoring company conducted a report which discovered that local authorities would have the power to dish out £70 fines if a vehicle was considered an obstruction, even if it was parked outside the driver’s house.
Mr Tongue said: “A pavement parking ban is 100% needed nationwide – anything that puts pedestrians at an increased risk requires action.
“However, the information given so far is slightly confusing for drivers. At the moment, there’s no clear guidelines for those who park on the pavement due to having no room on their own drive. Most households have more than one car, so it will be interesting to see where motorists are expected to park if not on the pavement outside their homes.
“Clear guidance is required for drivers so they know the correct location to park in order to avoid a fine.”
Operation Forth Bridge: the full plan for what happens next after Prince Philip’s death
Buckingham Palace confirmed the sad news of his passing earlier today
Buckingham Palace announced this afternoon that HRH Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh has died.
The 99-year-old, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday in June, passed away peacefully at Windsor Castle this morning, Friday April 9th.
Buckingham Palace said: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
“His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.
“Further announcements will be made in due course. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”
There were already strict procedures put in place for when Prince Philip died, which have now begun, and they’re known as Operation Forth Bridge.
According to the plan there are several steps that need to be followed, including everything from national mourning to a burial site for the Duke.
Operation Forth Bridge has been around for many years, with Buckingham Palace, in consultation with both the Queen and Prince Philip, regularly updating and reviewing it.
Part one of the operation was the announcement from Buckingham Palace confirming the death of the Duke, which was distributed to the Press Association and BBC first.
Then the country enters a period of national mourning, meaning a set of rules, like flags being flown at half-mast, must be followed.
According to reports, it’s thought newsreaders and other TV presenters must wear black out of respect.
Next, plans for the funeral will be drawn up, and while Prince Philip is entitled to a state funeral he reportedly wanted something more discreet – a private service in the style of a military funeral at St George’s Chapel in Windsor, followed by burial at Frogmore Gardens.
The funeral is still expected to be televised despite the current restrictions, although it remains unclear how many people will be able to attend it.
The Queen’s private secretary and senior adviser, Sir Edward Young, will be on hand to help her during the undoubtedly challenging days ahead.
As well as being responsible for supporting the Queen in her duties, Sir Edward is also the channel of communication between the Queen and the government.