Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 21 September 2022

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

1. Firms to get energy support

Businesses could have their energy bills cut by a third under government support to be revealed today. Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg is expected to announce a cap on wholesale energy costs for business customers. The BBC said the limit “would mean businesses facing an energy bill of £40,000 could see a reduction of £10,000 depending on usage patterns”. But the “support could go further”, said The i, with all businesses in Britain and Northern Ireland receiving “up to 50% discounts on their energy bills”.

How does the UK’s energy bill bailout plan compare with rest of Europe’s?

2. West slams ‘sham’ vote plan

Moscow’s plans to hold urgent referendums in parts of Ukraine that are currently under Russian control have been condemned by the West. After Russian-backed officials in four Ukrainian regions said they would hold votes on whether they should become part of Russia, the US, Germany and France all spoke out saying they would never recognise the results of such “sham” ballots. Analysts believe the plans could indicate the Kremlin has made a decision to formally annex the territories.

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How Xi and Putin meeting could affect Ukraine

3. Brits ‘skip meals’ to pay bills

Britons are skipping meals “just to keep the lights on,” according to a study reported in The Guardian. Around 20% of UK adults, or 10.9m people, are behind on one or more household bill – up by 3m since March – said the Money Advice Trust report. The Opinium survey found 5.6m have gone without food in the past three months as a result of the cost of living crisis. Nearly eight million people had “sold a personal or household item to help cover bills”, the researchers found.

How to cut your energy bills this winter

4. UK may join new European ‘club’

The UK is considering whether to attend a new European political “club of nations”. The first meeting of the European Political Community, an idea championed by Emmanuel Macron, is due to be held in Prague in October. The French president proposed the idea as a “new space” for co-operation. But Downing Street has said it wants to see more detail on the summit before Liz Truss commits to attending and no final decision has been made. UK officials are seeking assurances that the meeting will “not be too dominated by EU countries,” said the BBC.

Truss and Sunak clash over whether Macron is ‘friend or foe’

5. Truss ‘to cut stamp duty’

Liz Truss will announce radical plans to cut stamp duty in a bid to drive economic growth, according to The Times. The new PM believes that cutting stamp duty “will encourage economic growth by allowing more people to move and enabling first-time buyers to get on the property ladder”, said the paper. Truss has pledged to review all tax rates to help struggling households and businesses through the cost of living crisis, in “her latest break from Treasury orthodoxy,” said The Guardian.

What is trickle-down economics?

6. Tensions grow between US and UK

Joe Biden will urge Liz Truss to co-operate with the European Union to resolve tensions around post-Brexit trading arrangements in Northern Ireland, said the White House. Tensions between London and Washington have grown over the UK’s plans to override the Northern Ireland Protocol. Meanwhile, Liz Truss has admitted that a new trade deal with the US is unlikely in the “short to medium term”. The government had previously promised a post-Brexit trade deal with the US by 2022.

The problem with a UK-US trade deal

7. Man sets himself on fire to protest funeral

A man has set himself alight reportedly to protest a state funeral for Japan’s former prime minister, Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated in July. On Wednesday, witnesses called police after spotting a man on fire near the PM’s office in Tokyo. Officers put out the blaze, and took the still-conscious man, thought to be in his seventies, to hospital. Local media reported the man had voiced his opposition to the funeral to a nearby officer before setting himself alight. It comes after “public opposition to the holding of the state funeral has intensified”, said the BBC.

8. Channel 4 ‘U-turn on cards’

The new Culture Minister has said that the government will revisit plans to privatise Channel 4. Michelle Donelan, who replaced Nadine Dorries as minister for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has said the “business case” for selling Channel 4 will be re-examined after the sale of the public broadcaster was put on hold. Her comments “suggest that a U-turn could be on the cards,” said The i paper, just months after DCMS announced it would formally trigger the process to sell off the advertising-funded broadcaster.

Is Channel 4 a victim of Tory spite?

9. Queen’s resting place opens to public next week

The public will be able to visit the final resting place of Queen Elizabeth in St George’s Chapel, Windsor, from next Thursday. Windsor Castle is expected to reopen to the public on September 29. Visitors can tour St George’s Chapel — except on Sundays — and see into the George VI chapel, on the north side of the main chapel, although they are not allowed to enter. The monarch was buried on Monday alongside the Duke of Edinburgh in the King George VI Memorial Chapel.

St George’s Chapel: where the Queen will be laid to rest

10. Cannabis sweets ‘targeted at children’

Cannabis sweets “packaged to look like bags of Haribo and Skittles are being sold and promoted on social media”, Sky News reported. Dealers are operating openly on all of the UK’s five most popular social media sites: Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and Snapchat, as well as messaging services Whatsapp and Telegram. Police have warned that the packaging makes the products especially attractive to children. At least six children have been taken to hospital after eating cannabis sweets, with one as young as eight years old.

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