Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 15 November 2022

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

1. Sunak ‘to raise living wage’

Rishi Sunak will announce a significant rise in the national living wage and offer cost of living payments “worth up to £1,100 to eight million households”, reported The Times. The government is expected to accept an official recommendation to increase the living wage from £9.50 an hour to about £10.40 an hour — a rise of nearly 10%. However, the PM and his chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, have also drawn up plans for £33bn of spending cuts and £22bn in tax rises.

Budget cuts and stealth tax rises: five predictions for the Autumn Statement

2. Truss ‘rushed Aus deal’

The UK’s trade deal with Australia is “not actually a very good” agreement, said Boris Johnson’s former environment secretary. In a Commons debate on the trade deals with Australia and New Zealand, George Eustice said: “The UK gave away far too much.” He added that Liz Truss, then international trade secretary, was in a rush to conclude talks quickly, meaning that “the UK was on the back foot repeatedly”. When the deal was agreed, Johnson, then prime minister, hailed the agreement as “global Britain at its best”.

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JUN 2021: How a trade deal is negotiated

3. Trump ally loses vote

Donald Trump ally Kari Lake has lost to Democrat Katie Hobbs in Arizona governor race, according to projections by CBS News. The result is a “rebuke of Lake, who has “peddled” the false claim that Donald Trump won the 2020 US election, said the BBC. Meanwhile, in the race to control the House of Representatives, Republicans appear to be inching closer to the 218 seats that would deliver them a majority, but 16 congressional races — including several in California — remain undeclared.

What do surprising midterms mean for 2024?

4. Population to reach eight billion today

The world’s population is expected to reach eight billion today. The milestone, which will be announced by the United Nations, has come due to longer lifespans and the rapid growth of some nations in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. “It’s a reflection of our success as a species, to be able to proliferate the way we have,” said John Wilmoth, director of the population division in the UN department of economic and social affairs, but he admitted that it also “raises questions about our impact on the world”.

Are overpopulation fears unfounded?

5. Sunak criticises Putin absence

Vladimir Putin should have been prepared to face world leaders at the G20 summit, Rishi Sunak has said. “It is notable that Putin didn’t feel able to join us here,” said the prime minister. “Maybe if he had, we could get on with sorting things out. Because the single biggest difference that anyone could make is for Russia to get out of Ukraine and end this barbaric war.” The gathering is expected to take steps to address food security affected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a US official has told the media.

G20 summit: five high-stakes issues facing world leaders

6. Branded food outpaces inflation

The cost of popular branded foods such as Heinz tomato ketchup has “risen significantly faster than non-branded goods in the past two years”, according to Which. The consumer group looked at the cost of 79 branded items at six supermarket chains, in autumn 2020 and compared them to current prices. Heinz tomato ketchup went up by 53% (91p), Dolmio lasagne sauce rose by 47% and Batchelors Super Noodles increased by an average of 43%. The increases compare with average food inflation of 14.6% since this time last year, and 0.8% during the preceding 12 months.

What is inflation and why does it matter?

7. Charles to widen stand-in pool

King Charles has proposed the addition of Princess Anne and Prince Edward to the list of royals who can stand in for the monarch for official duties. Currently, the “counsellors of state” are Camilla, the Queen Consort, plus four other senior royals. However, two of the four are Prince Andrew and Prince Harry, who are no longer available as working royals. Therefore, said the BBC, the plan is not to remove them from the list, but to “widen the pool”, so that the availability of Prince Andrew and Prince Harry would “cease be an issue”.

Charles III and the future of the UK monarchy: looking abroad for clues

8. Civil servant warned Raab

Dominic Raab was “warned about his behaviour towards officials” by a top civil servant during his time as foreign secretary, reported The Guardian. Simon McDonald, the then permanent secretary at the Foreign Office, spoke to Raab several times about how he treated staff in his private office and during meetings. It is thought that McDonald had several informal conversations with the head of the propriety and ethics team at the Cabinet Office between 2019 and 2020 about Raab’s behaviour. Last week it was claimed that Raab had bullied staff at the Ministry of Justice.

Why can’t Westminster solve its bullying problem?

9. England to fly in “Rain Bow” jet

England’s World Cup squad will fly to Qatar today on a plane called “Rain Bow” which features a cartoon figure in rainbow-themed trainers and has a registration number GV-PRD, an abbreviation of “Pride”. England players have posed in front of rainbow-styled swooshes and the team will wear rainbow “OneLove” armbands. But the French team captain Hugo Lloris has hinted he will not wear a rainbow-coloured armband, saying: “When we are in France, when we welcome foreigners, we often want them to follow our rules, to respect our culture, and I will do the same when I go to Qatar, quite simply.”

The countries where homosexuality is still illegal

10. Tory councils close to bankruptcy

Two Tory councils have warned Rishi Sunak that they will be forced to declare bankruptcy within months because of an unprecedented financial crisis. In a joint letter described as “strongly worded” by The Guardian, said they “cannot sit by and let two great counties sleepwalk into a financial disaster”. They added that even “drastic cuts” to current services would not be enough to address the vast holes in their budgets created by soaring inflation and rising pressures in adult and children’s social care.

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