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Liz Truss ‘not Ruling Out’ Direct Financial Support For Cost Of Living – Live

Key events

Aubrey Allegretti

In case you missed it last night, ministers have been told to “get the wheels of justice turning” again by allowing more legal specialists to serve as crown prosecutors to help clear the courts backlog.

With record numbers of outstanding cases in magistrates and crown courts in England and Wales, the shadow attorney general, Emily Thornberry, said the more junior associate prosecutors were “not being used to the maximum extent possible” in crown courts due to an “unnecessary and outdated legal restriction”.

There are 127 criminal law specialists employed by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) as associate prosecutors. They handle less contentious matters at magistrates court level, such as bail applications from defendants, uncontested applications to impose civil preventative orders and criminal proceedings relating to less serious, non-imprisonable offences.

But Labour said they were prevented from taking on the more serious casework dealt with by crown prosecutors in magistrates courts, such as initial hearings for offences that are due to be sent for trial in crown court.

The party has called for this law to be changed, saying associate prosecutors had years of experience and were already at an advanced stage in their careers but were forced to pursue costly and time-consuming retraining as generalist lawyers in order to become crown prosecutors.

Lifting restrictions on the 127 associate prosecutors employed by the CPS would represent an increase of those able to handle the workload currently reserved for crown prosecutors by up to two-thirds, Labour said.

Gemma McSherry

Refuse workers in Scotland have been presented with a new offer in an attempt to end ongoing strike action.

Scottish council cleansing staff across much of the country are striking over pay disputes with local authorities.

A strike in Edinburgh led to rubbish including food waste building up in the streets during the Edinburgh festival fringe – the busiest time of year for the city – and is due to end on Wednesday while staff in authorities across Scotland have taken action over the weekend with a further stretch planned for next week.

The Scottish first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has faced a backlash after attending a series of events and public appearances while Scottish residents have been in what Scottish Labour’s business manager, Neil Bibby, described as “litter-strewn streets”.

“The first minister needs to fund councils properly and secure a fair deal for council workers and bring an end to this chaos, as well as using the powers she has to help Scots struggling with soaring bills,” Bibby added.

Sturgeon travelled to Copenhagen on Friday to officially open the Scottish government’s Nordic office and made a number of appearances at the Edinburgh festivals.

Peter Walker

Ministers must act immediately on soaring energy prices to avoid people being hit with a “lethal cocktail” of high inflation and recession, Alistair Darling, the Labour chancellor during the 2008 banking collapse, has said.

With Liz Truss, the expected successor to Boris Johnson, still refusing to set out what additional help she could give households to pay bills, Darling said a key lesson from the 2008 crash was that action needed to be swift and radical.

“You need something significant and substantial and you need it now, because people’s bills are going to start coming in in a few weeks’ time,” Darling, who served as chancellor under Gordon Brown, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“If you don’t do that then you have the risks that I’ve been describing, that the economy will slip into recession, with all that entails. And when you’ve got that on top of the fact you’ve got inflation already at very, very high levels we haven’t seen since the 1970s, this is a lethal cocktail, which is why it needs bold action taken by the government now, not fiddling around with small measures that frankly won’t make any difference at all.”

Home Office pays firm £2m to pick up people trying to cross Channel

Rob Davies

The Home Office is paying a private company £2m over six months to charter boats and crew to pick up people trying to cross the Channel, amid tension with the Royal Navy over its role in Priti Patel’s plans to deter asylum seekers.

Contract disclosures published on a government portal show that Aeolian Offshore, which is based on the Isle of Wight and usually serves the offshore wind industry, has provided three boats.

Details of the outsourcing plan were published as the number of people crossing the channel in small boats hit a new record, despite the government’s controversial plan to deter them by striking a deal with Rwanda to deport asylum seekers to the central African state.

According to the contract with Aeolian, its three vessels will work in 12-hour shifts, departing from Ramsgate, Kent, and sailing to “reported sightings of migrant vessels, to collect the migrants found”.

The boats, which usually have space for 12 passengers and three crew, must be able to accommodate a “minimum of 100 migrants” on deck, it states, as well as towing any craft that the people they pick up may have used to cross the Channel.

Andrew Gregory

In a television studio in Stoke-on-Trent last month, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak traded blows over everything from credit card economics to Channel migrants to the accessories chain Claire’s. The list of issues the pair clashed over was dizzyingly long.

There was one glaring omission, however. In the hour-long debate there was not a single mention of the NHS – despite being engulfed in its biggest ever crisis. The NHS now shares the same traits as many of those relying upon it to keep them alive and well: it is elderly, has multiple comorbidities, and is in dire need of emergency care. Summer has left it on its knees. Worse is expected this winter.

“The new prime minister will inherit an NHS in its worst state in living memory,” says Matthew Taylor, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents the healthcare system in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. “There is no escaping that the NHS is in a state of crisis.”

The facts, he says, speak for themselves. “There are 105,000 vacancies. A&Es are overcrowded. Around one in seven hospital beds are occupied by patients who can’t be discharged. Some patients have had to wait over 40 hours for an ambulance. Care is being put at risk by neglected buildings due to underinvestment. And then there’s the waiting lists, which stretch into the millions across elective care, mental health and community care.”

Jeremy Hunt, the chair of the health and social care committee, is equally concerned. “The new PM will inherit an NHS facing the most serious crisis in its history,” he warns. “A&Es, ambulances, general practice and social care are in serious peril across the country.”

The overriding problem for the new Downing Street incumbent is that, while in previous years problems in the NHS centred on specific areas, today the entire house is on fire.

The outgoing prime minister Boris Johnson is set to call on his successor to not give up investing in green energy in favour of quick fixes for the spiralling cost of living crisis, according to the Daily Telegraph.

It is understood Johnson will argue in a farewell message that Britain can tackle future energy crises while pursuing its net zero targets at the same time as supporting those struggling to pay for their heating.

The Telegraph reports:

His comments will be seen as a warning to Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak to maintain his ambition to build a new nuclear reactor every year and secure a five-fold increase in offshore wind power by 2030, accounting for almost half the UK’s total electricity consumption.

It will be seen as particularly relevant to Ms Truss, who has pledged to suspend green levies on energy bills and insisted that, while backing the existing target of reaching net zero by 2050, it must be done “in a way that doesn’t harm businesses or consumers”.

Ms Truss, the favourite to become prime minister a week on Tuesday, is also considering a potential five per cent cut in VAT and raising of income tax personal allowances to help offset the cost of living pressures on families.

The Conservative leadership frontrunner Liz Truss is set to declare China as an official “threat” to the UK’s national security for the first time, according to a report in The Times this morning.

She is planning a tougher approach to Beijing and, according to allies of the foreign secretary, would elevate China to a similar status as Russia – currently defined as an “acute threat”.

The foreign secretary has promised to reshape foreign policy if she becomes prime minister, The Times reported, adding that she has pledged to reopen an integrated review, published last year, which set out British priorities in diplomacy and defence over the next decade.

Aubrey Allegretti

Boris Johnson is “hoping to do a Berlusconi” and make a “populist return” to Downing Street after being ousted by his own MPs, according to a former Conservative cabinet minister.

In an interview with the Guardian, Rory Stewart said people needed to be reminded Johnson was forced to quit – over a slew of scandals – because some supporters wanted Johnson to “come back”.

Several of Johnson’s allies believe his detractors will come to rue removing him from office upon his successor taking over, and will brush off the poor polling as midterm blues.

But some Conservative MPs have privately voiced concerns the party could be on course to lose the next general election, due in part to the damage wreaked by Johnson – evidenced by a string of byelection losses and not having held a poll lead since December 2021.

Stewart, who ran against Johnson in the Tory 2019 leadership election, called Johnson “dangerous” and said “there are people who want him back”.

He added: “I think we need to remind people why he left. He should have gone much, much earlier. What he did was deeply, deeply shameful – and dangerous.”

Meanwhile, Alistair Darling has argued the government must take bold action to tackle spiralling energy prices to avoid a “lethal cocktail” of recession and high inflation.

The Labour former chancellor told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

You need something significant and substantial and you need it now, because people’s bills are going to start coming in in a few weeks’ time. If you don’t do that then you have the risks that I’ve been describing, that the economy will slip into recession with all that entails.

And when you’ve got that on top of the fact you’ve got inflation already at very, very high levels we haven’t seen since the 1970s, this is a lethal cocktail, which is why it needs bold action taken by the government now, not fiddling around with small measures that frankly won’t make any difference at all.

Darling said the lesson he learned in the 2008 financial crisis was that government had to do “more than people expect” as he called for more action to tackle rising energy prices.

He added:

One lesson that I drew from what happened in 2008 is you’ve got to do more than people expect and you’ve got to do it more quickly than people expect if it’s going to work.

It’s going to cost money. When I announced the package in 2008 when it was the banking crisis, it amounted in total to about £500 billion, that actually we got all of that money back over the following years…

So what I think we need to see today from the government, from the new prime minister, is measures that will be big enough to deal with this.

You’ve got to look at things like the proposal from my former colleagues in the Labour party, talking about a freeze on prices for a period while we sort these these things out, and you’ve got to announce it now.

The government is working on plans to help people with energy bills this winter, a Tory minister has claimed.

Victoria Prentis, a minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, told Times Radio on Monday:

It’s right that people need help and I’m really here to try to reassure that the government is making plans to help people as they will need it with energy bills this winter.

She added:

I would like to reassure that there are many, many different plans being worked on by civil servants and ministers at the moment, and whoever comes in as the next Conservative leader and our next prime minister will have the background work ready and will be able to make those difficult choices very quickly and before it’s needed.

Prentis, a supporter of Rishi Sunak, argued that the nationalisation of Britain’s energy industry or freezing the price cap were not the solution, but that targeted support was needed. She said:

What we need to do is not necessarily help everybody in the country in the same way. We need to make sure that while we will be providing some general support… most of our support goes to those really vulnerable households, particularly pensioners, people with disabilities, for example, people who really don’t have other options.

Liz Truss ‘not ruling anything out’ on direct financial support for everyoneGood morning and welcome to the UK politics live blog on this August Bank Holiday Monday. I hope you are having a good weekend so far.

We start with news from Team Truss. Her camp has said the Tory leadership frontrunner is leaning towards targeted support over help for all to ease the cost of living crisis, but said she is not “ruling anything out”.

Various different possibilities have been floated in the media, with Rishi Sunak’s team warning that cutting VAT by 5% across the board would be “regressive” amid reports over the weekend his rival was considering the move as a “nuclear” option, the Press Association reported.

The Sunday Telegraph said this was one of a series of possible strategies to ease the strain being drawn up by the Treasury for the new prime minister to look at when they take office.

It was also reported by the BBC on Sunday that Liz Truss had “ruled out” direct support for everyone to assist with soaring bills. But a source from the foreign secretary’s team later said that – while she is more attracted to targeted assistance – she has not yet ruled anything out.

They said:

Liz has been clear we need to lower the burden of taxation and focus on boosting energy supplies and this will be her priority as prime minister.

She’s also been clear further support may be required to help. Her preference is to target this to those most in need, but isn’t ruling anything out.

Liz Truss during a hustings event at the Holiday Inn, in Norwich North, Norfolk, as part of her campaign to be leader of the Conservative Party and the next prime minister. Photograph: Joe Giddens/PAIt comes as The Times released new polling suggesting nearly half of current Tory voters want Britain’s energy industry to be re-nationalised. The newspaper reported that 47% back returning energy companies to public ownership, while 28% oppose it and 25% are unsure, according to the YouGov survey.

The poll, carried out on Tuesday and Wednesday last week, also found that Labour’s plan to temporarily freeze energy bills, valued by the party at £29 billion, is supported by 51% of Tory voters, with only 17% opposing the policy.

With the energy price cap set to rise by 80% by October, whoever emerges as Boris Johnson’s successor on 5 September will have a mammoth task on their hands to steer the country through the winter.

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