Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 6 September 2021

The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am

1. PM faces rebellion on tax

Boris Johnson faces a “battle” with his cabinet and MPs as the House of Commons returns today, the BBC reported, with the prime minister set to break manifesto commitments on tax. Plans to raise national insurance contributions to increase funding for the NHS and to overhaul social care have been privately criticised by cabinet ministers - and MPs have warned the chief whip they could rebel in the Commons. The PM is expected to announce the plans as early as tomorrow.

Boris Johnson’s manifesto-busting tax rise to fund social care

2. Charles ‘backed donor’s claim’

The Prince of Wales was “100%” behind the offer to help a Saudi billionaire with his application for British citizenship, The Times reported. A former aide to the prince has temporarily stepped down as head of one of Charles’s charities after he was said to have offered to help to secure a knighthood and British citizenship for Mahfouz Marei Mubarak, who gave more than £1.5m to Charles’s charities.

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3. Covid surge feared as schools return

There are fears that Covid infections could rise again as millions of pupils return to classrooms in England and Wales. Scientists have warned of a rapid rise in school cases because although pre-term Covid testing is being used to limit infection, rules on social distancing and facemasks have gone. Cases are more than 30 times higher among children compared with last year and experts have not recommended jabs for healthy 12 to 15-year-olds.

How much Covid disruption will schools face this year?

4. Afghan rebels offer talks

The leader of the Afghan resistance group waging a battle against the Taliban in the Panjshir Valley said he is willing to enter peace talks. Ahmad Massoud, head of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, made the announcement on the group’s Facebook page after Taliban forces claimed they had fought their way into the provincial capital of Panjshir province, north of Kabul, having already taken control of the surrounding districts.

Ahmad Massoud: the face of Afghanistan’s anti-Taliban resistance

5. John Lewis attacked for ‘poverty wages’

John Lewis is facing staff unrest amid complaints of “poverty wages” and tensions over the suspension of bonuses. Some employees claimed they receive less than the “real living wage” of £9.50 per hour, or £10.85 in London, and have struggled financially as a result. A petition, which claims one in five John Lewis workers do not receive the real living wage, has attracted nearly 30,000 signatories.

6. Sperm to be frozen for 55 years

Britons will be able to freeze their eggs, sperm and embryos for up to 55 years in a reform of fertility rules intended to help prospective parents. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the current limit of ten years was “severely restrictive”. Research from the Royal College of Obstetricians found that modern freezing techniques mean eggs can be stored indefinitely without deterioration.

7. CBI warns over long-lasting crisis

The CBI has said the UK labour crisis could last for up to two years. The business lobby group called for ministers to take action on visas for foreign workers and stop “waiting for shortages to solve themselves”. It added that the economic recovery from Covid lockdowns was being undermined by a lack of skills in key positions, with growing risks that the problem would continue for some time. “We need to simultaneously address short-term economic needs and long-term economic reform,” a spokesperson said.

Britain’s supply chain crisis explained

8. Tributes to Sarah Harding

Girls Aloud members Nadine Coyle and Nicola Roberts have led the tributes to former bandmate Sarah Harding, who died of breast cancer at the age of 39 this weekend. Writing on Instagram, Coyle said: “I can’t think of words that could possibly express how I feel about this girl & what she means to me!!” Roberts said: “Electric girl, you made us. You gave it everything and still with a smile.” Girls Aloud shot to fame in 2002.

9. Ministers urged to back lab meat

The government has been encouraged to push vegetarian options, including lab-grown meat, in the fight against climate change. The Social Market Foundation argued that promoting the consumption of “alternative proteins” that do not come from animals would be “politically easier” for ministers than taxing traditional meats, reported The Times. Animal agriculture accounts for 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The pros and cons of lab-grown meat

10. Yorkshire appeared in most TV shows

Research by the BBC has found that Yorkshire appeared in more programmes on the UK’s five main channels than anywhere else in England last year, almost double the number of its nearest rival. The county appeared in 12 TV show titles on the UK’s five main channels last year, Cornwall was the next highest with seven. The Telegraph says TV bosses have now started the hunt for the “new Yorkshire” with Norfolk, the Cotswolds and the South Downs in their sights.

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