Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 23 May 2022

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

1. PM: work is solution to crisis

Boris Johnson will respond to pressure for urgent action on the cost of living crisis by arguing that work is the best route out of poverty, reported The Guardian. The PM is expected to continue to throw the spotlight on the job market after telling the Welsh Conservative conference on Friday that he is “proud to say that you have to go all the way back to 1974 to find a time when the unemployment was as low in the UK as it is today”. But, the paper added, many of those struggling to make ends meet are already in jobs, with wages failing to keep up with 9% annual inflation.

How the UK’s cost-of-living crisis compares with the rest of the world

2. Monkeypox caution by UN

Anyone at high risk of having caught monkeypox should isolate for 21 days, states the latest UK guidance. Health officials will announce the latest number of UK monkeypox infections today, with 20 cases confirmed so far. UNAids, the United Nations Aids agency, has reported that a “significant portion of the cases have been identified among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men”, but urged “media, governments, and communities” to respond to the outbreak with a “rights-based, evidence-based approach that avoids stigma”.

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What is monkeypox and what are the symptoms?

3. Gene-edited crops ‘to be sped up’

The production of gene-edited crops is to be accelerated to help safeguard food supplies for Britain in the face of the conflict in Ukraine, reported The Telegraph. Ministers are set to introduce a bill which will allow farms to grow more crops by planting variants that have been edited to be more resistant to disease or need less water or fertiliser. “Water scarcity is a coming challenge with climate change, and this technology could therefore be imperative to global food security,” environment secretary George Eustice told the paper.

How gene editing works

4. Fuel poverty could double

The boss of a leading energy company has warned that one in five households are already in fuel poverty and that number could double in October when the energy price cap rises again. Michael Lewis, the chief executive of E.On, said that high gas and electricity prices could endure for at least another 18 months of “unprecedented” hardship. Fuel poverty is defined as spending more than 10% of disposable income on energy bills to maintain an adequate standard of warmth, said The Times.

Will the energy war hurt Europe more than Russia?

5. Children’s mental health crisis soars

A record 400,000 children and young people are being treated for mental health problems every month, said The Guardian. NHS data shows “open referrals” – troubled children and young people in England undergoing treatment or waiting to start care – reached 420,314 in February, the highest number since records began in 2016. The Covid pandemic has intensified issues such as anxiety, depression and self-harm among school-age children and experts believe that the “relentless and unsustainable” demand for help could overwhelm already stretched NHS services.

One in three Covid survivors ‘develop mental health problems’

6. Revolutionary Guard killed in Iran

Gunmen on a motorbike have killed a senior member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard outside his home in Tehran. The Iranian Foreign Ministry said Hassan Sayad Khodayari was assassinated by “sworn enemies” of the revolution who are “the terrorist agents affiliated with the global arrogance”, which is typically code for the US and Israel, explained the BBC. State media described Khodayari as a “defender of the sanctuary”, a term used to describe anyone who works on behalf of Iran in Syria or Iraq.

Arguments for and against the Iran Nuclear Deal

7. NHS waiting list could be double

The number of people waiting for NHS treatment could be twice the official figures being reported, said The Telegraph. Official data shows that a record 6.4m patients were waiting for treatment in March – one in ten of the population – which marks an increase of 3% since February. However, analysis seen by the paper suggested that the current method of counting “vastly underestimates” the “true scale of the problem”, with some patients lost in the system or removed before treatment is complete.

8. Biden to Kim: ‘Hello. Period’

Joe Biden has offered a terse message to North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un. During a visit to South Korea on Sunday, the US president responded with “Hello. Period” when he was asked whether he had a message for the dictator. CNN said the succinct greeting reflected the Biden administration’s so-far-unsuccessful attempts at restarting diplomacy with Pyongyang. “Attempts at outreach to the North have gone mostly unanswered,” said the news site.

Can North Korea control a major Covid outbreak?

9. Patel warned over immigration pledge

Priti Patel has been warned by red wall MPs that an expected “drastic increase” in net immigration “undeniably undermines” Brexit promises. Writing to the home secretary, more than two dozen Conservative Party politicians pointed to figures that show that work visas are up 25% to 239,987, family visas are up 49% to 280,776 and student visas are up 52% to 432,729. The letter was organised by John Hayes, who chairs the influential Common Sense Group, and had several red wall Conservative MPs among its signatories.

10. Tory tweet: girls ‘smell buttery’

A Conservative local election candidate has come under fire after a post on his Twitter account allegedly said that 16-year-old girls smell “buttery” and “creamy”, The Guardian reported. The full post, seen on the account of Jonty Campbell, who has stood for the party in Preston on a number of occasions, is thought to have said: “Here’s the thing with girls 22 or under, they smell massively different to a girl of 28. Girls aged 16 to, say 23, have this buttery, creamy, slightly sweet smell that is unbelievably magnetic.”

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