Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 22 September 2022

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

1. Bank expected to hike rates

Interest rates are expected to rise for a seventh time in a row today, inflicting misery on millions of homeowners. The Bank of England is widely expected to increase rates by half a percentage point, or possibly more. Officials at the Bank have been put in a “tricky position,” said the Daily Mail, because while ramping up the base rate could help to tame inflation, by encouraging saving rather than spending, it also “bumps up the cost of borrowing for all and puts a damper on economic growth”.

Why the Bank of England is raising interest rates again

2. Arrests in Russia after call up

Police in Russia have arrested hundreds of protesters rallying against the Kremlin’s decision to call up thousands of extra troops to fight in Ukraine. A human rights group put the total number of those arrested at more than 1,300. Meanwhile, Liz Truss has dismissed as “sabre-rattling” Vladimir Putin’s warning that Russia will use “all the means at our disposal” to protect itself. US president Joe Biden has sought to unite the international community in the face of what he called “reckless” threats.

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‘Nuclear blackmail’: Putin’s address to Russia

3. Covid rise on schools return

Covid cases are starting to soar again and experts are predicting a record high this autumn. According to the Zoe Covid study app, daily symptomatic infections have increased by 42% in three weeks, rising from 101,600 on August 27th – their lowest level this year – to 144,813 on Monday. The return to school and cooler weather have been blamed for the new rise. Tim Spector, the King’s College London professor who runs the Zoe app, predicts daily symptomatic infections will rise to around 600,000 to 650,000 cases a day by the end of October or early November.

Is this the end of Covid?

4. Trumps face fraud lawsuit

Donald Trump and three of his children are facing a fraud lawsuit after an investigation into their family company conclude that they lied “by billions” about the value of real estate in order to get loans and pay less tax. Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, said: “This conduct cannot be brushed aside and dismissed as some sort of good-faith mistake.” However, the Trump attorney Alina Habba told CNN that the filing is “neither focused on the facts nor the law”.

What is Donald Trump up to now?

5. Coffey pledges better GP access

Health Secretary Thérèse Coffey will promise to improve access to GPs, including same-day appointments for those who need them. Amid declining satisfaction over access to GPs, family doctors will be able to take on extra staff, including senior nurses, while pharmacists will be asked to take on more work to free up appointments. However, GP leaders said the announcement would have a “minimal impact”. The Royal College of GPs accused Coffey of burdening already hard-pressed surgeries with new targets that will not improve care.

Thérèse Coffey: the new prime minister’s ‘closest political confidante’

6. Studies find rocketing anxiety

A major study has shown that anxiety levels are soaring in Britain, noted The Times. Research from the University College London, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, found that generalised anxiety disorder trebled in women aged 18 to 24 between 2008 and 2018 (rising from 8% to 30%). There were sweeping rises in anxiety in men and women under 55 too, with economic and social factors, from the recession to fears about climate change, blamed. Meanwhile, an American health panel has recommended that all adults under 65 are routinely screened for anxiety.

Why people with anxiety struggle to manage their emotions

7. IFS warning on Truss tax plans

Britain’s escalating debts will be unsustainable if Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng press ahead with sweeping tax cuts in a mini-budget on Friday, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank. The chancellor is expected to reverse an increase in national insurance payments and cut corporation tax at a cost to the Treasury of £30bn, while increasing spending. “There is no miracle cure, and setting plans underpinned by the idea that headline tax cuts will deliver a sustained boost to growth is a gamble, at best,” said the IFS.

What is trickle-down economics?

8. Warning on betel-nut addiction

China is struggling to control an “epidemic of betel-nut addiction,” amid fears that the mild stimulant heightens the risk of oral cancer, said The Times. The pop star Fu Song died of oral cancer this month and blamed his illness on years of chewing betel. An estimated 700m Chinese consume the nut, which was originally used for its medicinal effects. The seed’s recreational use took off in China in the 1990s when local governments in the southern province of Hunan turned its production into a pillar of the economy.

9. Majority want electoral reform

The annual British Social Attitudes survey has found that more British people want to see the first-past-the-post electoral system scrapped for the first time since records began. Some 51% of people are in favour of switching to a form of proportional representation, while 44% want the current electoral system retained. Professor John Curtice, who led the survey for the National Centre for Social Research, said the change in attitudes appeared to be driven by a change of mind among supporters of Labour.

Proportional representation: The pros and cons

10. Royal Albert Hall fears ‘terrifying’ future

The manager of the Royal Albert Hall has warned that the venue faces a “terrifying” future due to the cost-of-living crisis. Craig Hassall, the CEO, said the venue’s energy bills are set to triple to £1.5m a year, despite government support and warned that the concert hall – currently the busiest in the world – might be forced to cut back on shows and maintenance work to balance the books. The Hall hosts around 800 events a year, including 390 in its famous 5,500-seat central theatre, noted The i.

Will UK firms survive the winter?

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