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Energy price cap: Average bills to fall by more than £100 – but predictions say they will rise again | Business News

The average annual energy bill will be £506 cheaper than a year ago from July, the sector’s regulator has announced.

The energy price cap – which limits what can be charged per unit of energy – is due to fall from the month after next.

It means the average annual bill will be £1,568 a year, 7% less than at present.

But while the July figure is a reduction, bills are still more expensive than before.

Before the energy price shock, caused primarily by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, a standard 12-monthly bill was £1,084.

Money latest: Energy bills fall – but predictions say they will rise again

So compared with three years ago, energy is costing homes an extra £484.

During the current period from 1 April to 30 June, the energy price cap is set at £1,690 per year for a typical bill.

Energy regulator Ofgem sets the cap four times a year, with the latest announcement applying from July to September.

The overall rate of inflation came down in April – in large part thanks to the current higher cap which came into effect that month and brought prices down for energy users, according to the Office for National Statistics.

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Price cap model faces review

However, many households are in debt to energy providers.

“The fall in the energy price cap reduces bills slightly, but our data tells us millions have fallen into the red or are unable to cover their essential costs every month,” said Dame Clare Moriarty, the chief executive of Citizens Advice.

“People cannot rely on lower energy prices alone to escape the financial issues they’ve been experiencing. That’s why we need better targeted energy bill support for those really struggling to keep the lights on or cook a hot meal.”

More expense to come

Latest forecasts suggest bills will increase again coming into winter as wholesale gas costs are on the rise.

Respected research firm Cornwall Insight said it expects the fall announced today “may be temporary”.

It predicts a typical bill will increase to £1,762 from October and remain around this level until the end of March.

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Gas prices reached four-month highs earlier this week on concerns that Russia could halt gas flows to Austrian multinational oil, gas and petrochemical company OMV and that US exports to Europe may be damaged by a contractor at a Texas terminal filing for bankruptcy protection.

General election: ‘Spineless’ Starmer accused of dodging weekly TV debates | Politics News

Rishi Sunak and senior Tories have sparked the first major row of the election campaign by accusing “spineless” Sir Keir Starmer of “chickening out” of weekly TV debates.

The prime minister has challenged the Labour leader to take part in six TV clashes during the campaign debating issues like tax, the cost of living and security.

But Labour’s high command has hit back, claiming Sir Keir‘s priority is spending time on the road talking to voters, and revealed that he will take part in two TV debates with the PM.

Politics latest: Sunak’s announcement gets brutal review from top Tory

Realistically, TV schedules in June and early July are packed with the group stages and knock-out matches in the Euro 2024 football tournament – with England the favourites – meaning six election debates are highly unlikely.

But undaunted by a football and politics clash, Mr Sunak threw down his challenge to the Labour leader in an article from The Daily Telegraph in which he declared: “There are big issues at stake in this election.

“Do we continue cutting taxes or raise taxes on working households as Labour would do?

More on General Election 2024

“Do we prioritise energy security and your family’s finances in our approach to net zero or put environmental dogma first as Sir Keir Starmer and Ed Miliband would?

“And, above all, how do we give this country the secure future it deserves?”

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Could the Euros affect the election?

Mr Sunak added: “I want to debate these issues with Sir Keir Starmer. But he doesn’t want to because he doesn’t have a plan and doesn’t have the courage to say what he wants to do.”

Using tougher language, Tory chairman Richard Holden turned up the heat on Sir Keir, telling the Daily Express: “It’s no surprise spineless Sir Keir Starmer is chickening out of debates that he publicly promised to do just months ago.

“It’s time for Sir Keir to grow a backbone. The public deserves to hear and scrutinise what the man who wants to be our prime minister has to say before he changes his mind, again.”

Read more:
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A six-week race for the keys to Number 10

Back in January, Sir Keir said on TV election debates: “I have been saying bring it on for a very, very long time. I’m happy to debate at any time.”

And rejecting the Tory claims of a U-turn, Labour sources told Sky News Sir Keir will speak to voters and take questions from media throughout the election campaign.

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“Labour believes spending time on the road talking to voters across the country is the priority and so Keir Starmer is planning to take part in the two debates with the largest audience: BBC and ITV,” said a senior party source.

“We won’t be tearing up the format established in previous elections just to suit this week’s whims of the Tory party.”

Sky News election debate in 2010
Sky News election debate in 2010

TV election debates took off in the UK in the 2010 general election when Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg took part in three debates, on ITV, Sky News and the BBC.

It was claimed they were responsible for the “Cleggmania” that eventually led to Mr Clegg becoming deputy prime minister in Mr Cameron’s coalition government.

During the debates, the phrase “I agree with Nick”, used frequently by Mr Cameron and Mr Brown, became a catchphrase successfully deployed by the Liberal Democrats during the election campaign.

At the last general election, in 2019, there were two debates between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn and it seems likely there will be two again in this campaign.

And they’re off… what has the first day of the election campaign told us? | Politics News

The political parties have been setting out their election campaigns, with voters going to the polls exactly six weeks from today.

On the Sky News Daily Niall Paterson speaks to deputy political editor Sam Coates who is following the prime minister on his campaign trail around the UK, visiting four nations in two days. He also chats with chief political correspondent Jon Craig about the launch of Labour’s campaign in Kent.

Plus, Sky’s online campaign correspondent Tom Cheshire tells Niall why the parties are spending big money online and whether it could affect the election outcome.

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Promotions Producer: Jada-Kai Meosa John
Editor: Wendy Parker

Lewis Edwards: Former police officer who used Snapchat to groom more than 200 girls loses appeal | UK News

A police officer who groomed more than 200 underage girls on Snapchat has lost an appeal to reduce his life sentence.

Lewis Edwards, a former South Wales Police officer, admitted more than 100 sexual offences against children and was sentenced to a minimum of 12 years behind bars.

He was jailed last year, but lawyers acting on his behalf argued on Thursday that the judge should not have passed a life sentence.

Read more: How police caught paedophile and beat his encryption

Three judges at the Court of Appeal dismissed the 24-year-old’s case.

Mrs Justice May said Edwards appeared to have “a settled, perverse sexual interest in young girls”.

“In these circumstances, we can understand the judge’s conclusion that it was impossible to conclude when or if the risk posed by the applicant would cease.

“We are not persuaded that the applicant should be differently sentenced. The sentence thus remains in all respects as it was before.”

Pic: South Wales Police
Pic: South Wales Police

Cardiff Crown Court was told during a hearing last October that Edwards used fake Snapchat accounts – posing as a 14-year-old boy – to groom more than 200 girls aged between 10 and 16 online.

Edwards asked scores of his victims for indecent images in school uniform and blackmailed many young girls – threatening to publish their photos or hurt their families to get them to cooperate.

Sentence ‘not unreasonable’

Edwards, formerly from the Cefn Glas area of Bridgend, had pleaded guilty to a total of 161 offences.

The former police officer refused to attend his sentencing and neither did he attend Thursday’s appeal hearing.

Susan Ferrier, Edwards’s lawyer, said life imprisonment should be a “last resort” and that he was “emotionally immature” at the time of his offending.

Roger Griffiths, on behalf of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said the sentence was not “manifestly excessive in the circumstances of this case”.

Mrs Justice May, who sat with Lord Justice Holroyde and Mr Justice Bourne, ruled that a life sentence was “not unreasonable” despite the case being at the “outer margins” of such a sentence.

General election 2024: Sky News reveals coverage plans as UK prepares to head to the polls | Politics News

Sky News has announced its coverage plans for the 2024 general election after Rishi Sunak surprised the nation by saying the public will go to the polls on 4 July.

Chief Presenter Kay Burley will anchor Election Night Live, the overnight results programme, from a 360-degree immersive studio normally used by Sky Sports shows like Monday Night Football.

Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester and a former Labour MP, will provide guest analysis alongside the former leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Baroness Ruth Davidson.

Burley, who will be covering her twelfth UK general election, will also be joined by Sky News’ award-winning political editor Beth Rigby, the presenter of our Sunday breakfast show Sir Trevor Phillips, and data and economics editor Ed Conway.

From left: Deputy political editor Sam Coates, Sunday morning breakfast show presenter Sir Trevor Phillips, lead politics presenter Sophy Ridge, chief presenter Kay Burley, political editor Beth Rigby and economics editor Ed Conway
From left: Deputy political editor Sam Coates, Sunday morning breakfast show presenter Sir Trevor Phillips, lead politics presenter Sophy Ridge, chief presenter Kay Burley, political editor Beth Rigby and economics editor Ed Conway

Sunak calls election: Follow live updates

Conway will be examining live election data on the massive canvas of the studio’s LED floor and walls, giving pioneering analysis that will dig into the facts and figures.

The Sky News team will take viewers through the key results on the night, making use of this new technology to explain the polling data from every angle, offering viewers the full story on the night.

Plus, the exit poll and winner of the race for Number 10 will be revealed with the help of an immersive to-scale augmented reality Downing Street.

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The gambler: Why summer election is a big call for the PM

Elections analyst Professor Michael Thrasher will be on hand to offer statistical analysis of the election for Sky News – as he has at every election since 1989.

From 7am on the morning after the nationwide voting, lead politics presenter Sophy Ridge, host of Sky’s Politics Hub, will be live from Westminster bringing viewers every development as the election result is absorbed and plans for the next government are made.

Ridge will be joined by deputy political editor Sam Coates and Sky News contributor Adam Boulton across what will be an historic day, as the nation awaits the next prime minister.

Sky News’ audience will be the first to find out what’s really happening – with our reporters and cameras at election counts up and down the UK revealing the dramatic results and hearing from candidates from across the political spectrum.

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Andy Burnham will join Kay Burley for our election night coverage
Andy Burnham will join Kay Burley for our election night coverage

More details on Sky News’ election night and campaign coverage, podcasts and special programming will be revealed in the days and weeks ahead.

Kay Burley, chief presenter, said: “This will be my twelfth UK general election. I’m as committed to top-rate, fast, accurate coverage in 2024 as I was when Margaret Thatcher became PM in 1979.”

Mr Burnham said: “I’m very much looking forward to joining the Sky team for the general election night coverage. It will be a different experience for me to be able to join the analysis of the results rather than just worrying about my own. Having been involved in the 1997 general election at Labour HQ and then as a minister in later elections, I hope to be able to bring a fresh view of what will face an incoming government.”

Baroness Ruth Davidson will provide guest analysis
Baroness Ruth Davidson will provide guest analysis

Baroness Davidson said: “Every election night is made up of a number of different stories. What happens in Scotland is undoubtedly going to be one of them. Over a decade on the political frontline north of the border means I’ll be able to analyse and interpret the results as they come in for viewers right across the UK.”

David Rhodes, executive chairman of Sky News, said: “We saw a tremendous response to our coverage of this month’s local elections – and we’ll have much, much more to offer at this UK general election, with the most experienced team, plus the most comprehensive data and analysis, presented online and on TV from the most state-of-the-art studio in the country.

“Our political team is the best in the business – Kay, Sophy, Beth, Trevor, Ed, Sam, and more are ready to bring audiences the full story, first.”

Will England’s or Scotland’s results at Euro 2024 affect the general election? | UK News

For only the second time, a general election campaign will coincide with a major football tournament.

Tens of thousands of voters could be in Germany around polling day on 4 July – depending on the progress of England and Scotland at Euro 2024 (14 June-14 July).

Can Rishi Sunak benefit from a football feelgood factor? Or could early exits for the home nations hasten his departure from No 10?

A myth has occasionally persisted that England’s 1966 World Cup victory kept Harold Wilson in Downing Street.

But Labour’s election victory actually came four months before the Wembley final – in March 1966.

England celebrate victory in 1966
England celebrate victory in 1966. Pic: Action Images/Reuters

The PM did, however, call the 1970 election in the middle of England’s World Cup defence in Mexico.

Cabinet minister Denis Healey later claimed Wilson was wondering about the political consequences of an England defeat ahead of election day.

And West Germany did turn it around against the world champions in the quarterfinals – just as the Conservatives confounded the pollsters to sweep Edward Heath to power four days later.

Edward Heath celebrates his 1970 election win Pic: AP
Edward Heath celebrates his 1970 election win Pic: AP

England’s early flight home came after blowing a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 – and sports minister Denis Howell later linked goalkeeping blunders with the moment everything “began to go wrong for Labour”.

A PM did not call a national poll again during a tournament until the Brexit vote – with the UK voting to leave the European Union during Euro 2016.

Read more: The gigs, sports events and festivals that clash with the 4 July general election

England fans – never reticent to goad rivals – adopted a new jingoistic chant: “We’re not in Europe anymore.”

The Three Lions fulfilled that far sooner on the pitch than the prolonged EU withdrawal – with a humiliating last-16 defeat to minnows Iceland.

At the upcoming Euros in Germany, the 4 July election unexpectedly called by Rishi Sunak comes after the round of 16.

Read more:
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Why summer election is a big call for the PM

Gareth Southgate arrives before the announcement.
Pic Reuters
Gareth Southgate. Pic: Reuters

Unwelcome news perhaps for Gareth Southgate, who for so long as England manager has been called on to unite the nation amid domestic political strife.

It was only in March that England were facing calls from both Sunak and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to restore the clear red St George’s cross to the shirt.

But Sky News pointed out to Southgate only yesterday that it seemed Euro 2024 “would be about football, not politics this time”.

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Kay Burley reveals Sky’s Election Night Live studio.

He replied: “Well, that’s what I started off in this job to do.”

A short-lived hope.

Even the Euros may not now be an election-free zone. But will results on the pitch have any impact on politics?

Sunak has gambled on election date knowing success under any definition is hard | Politics News

Rishi Sunak has made the calculation that 4 July is, if not the best date for an election for the Conservatives, then – as far as he can see – the least worst.

Firstly, he thinks there is a story to tell on the economy – albeit one that is not without peril.

Britain is out of recession, while inflation today is statistically within “normal” levels.

Politics Live: Sunak ditches jacket for first election rally – as he asks ‘who do you trust?’

Secondly, it’s likely a plane will possibly take off for the Rwanda within the election campaign. While this will be branded a success, it avoids the judgement on the true purpose of the policy – to stop the boats.

Thirdly, I understand it was no longer possible to have a budget or further fiscal statement after the big promise to increase military spending to 2.5% by 2030.

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In full: PM announces election

One Tory source told me that the moment they saw that, they knew there wouldn’t be further tax cuts and an election would be sooner rather than later.

More on General Election 2024

But more than that, there was a real – perhaps existential – question about how long Sunak could continue to hold it together.

Read More:
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Find your new constituency and how it’s changed

There are revolts in parliament looming – on abortion, on smoking and on shorter prison sentencing. This potentially avoids some of those.

He was also facing questions whether he would have to do a reshuffle after Chris Heaton Harris, Northern Ireland Secretary, announced his departure at the next election. Precedent that should have prompted a reshuffle – perhaps this has avoided that.

There are also claims – that might never be proved one way or another – that more and more Tories wanted him gone and he could have been tiptoeing closer to a vote of no confidence. Only Sir Graham Brady may know the truth of this.

All of that is now in the past. Sunak has gambled, knowing success under any definition is hard.

Craig McQuillian: Courier captured on CCTV trying to burn down Edinburgh flat with man and boy inside | UK News

A courier who tried to kill a young boy and a man by setting a fire outside their door within a high-rise block of flats has been jailed for six years.

Craig McQuillian, 44, was captured on camera starting the petrol blaze on the 10th floor of the 14-storey tenement in Edinburgh.

A court heard a youngster inside the flat smelled burning while in bed and raised the alarm by shouting “fire”.

A man, who was also in the property, was able to extinguish the flames blocking their only escape route by using a wet towel before emergency services arrived at the scene.

Craig McQuillian setting the fire. Pic: Crown Office
Craig McQuillian arriving at the flat. Pic: Crown Office

Craig McQuillian setting the fire. Pic: Crown Office
Pic: Crown Office

Although no one was injured, the sentencing judge made reference to the Grenfell Tower tragedy of June 2017, in which 72 people died after a blaze tore through the 24-storey block of flats in London.

Lord Mulholland told McQuillian: “You have pleaded guilty to two charges of attempted murder.

“Had it not been for the quick thinking and the bravery of one of the occupants in putting it out, you could have been facing charges of murder.

“You only need to look at Grenfell Tower to know the consequences of actions such as your own.

“However, you got off your mark leaving the occupants to their fate.”

Craig McQuillian setting the fire. Pic: Crown Office
Pic: Crown Office

Craig McQuillian setting the fire. Pic: Crown Office
Pic: Crown Office

The incident occurred at around 11.30pm on 12 November 2023.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard that McQuillian set the fire in a targeted attack against the older victim in response to the man’s alleged harassment towards a family member.

McQuillian, who worked as a courier delivering organs for the NHS, was captured on CCTV entering the block of flats with a metal crowbar and a plastic carrier bag which held a container filled with petrol.

After setting fire to the accelerant poured outside the flat door, McQuillian was then seen fleeing the scene.

Craig McQuillian. Pic: Police Scotland
Craig McQuillian. Pic: Police Scotland

A neighbour, whose doorbell camera recorded the attack, called 999 when they were alerted to the incident via a notification through an app on their phone.

Read more from Sky News:
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The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said a Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) commander reported that the blaze could have spread throughout the building, creating a risk of additional casualties and damage to the surrounding properties.

The court heard that McQuillian, who lived in Stirling before his arrest, began crying when he learned that a child had been present in the property.

McQuillian pleaded guilty on Tuesday to wilful fire-raising, danger to life and attempted murder. He was sentenced to six years behind bars on Wednesday.

Moira Orr, lead of homicide and major crime COPFS, said: “This was an extremely reckless act that could have had devastating consequences had it not been for the brave and swift actions of his victims.

“Craig McQuillian carefully planned this targeted attack, which took place when most residents would have been asleep in bed.

“It was only by good fortune that the young child smelled burning and was able to raise the alarm in time.

“McQuillian will now have to face the consequences of his callous actions and I hope this conviction gives his victims some comfort.”

UK weather: Amber warning for heavy rain issued with ‘danger to life’ alert | UK News

Heavy rain could spark travel disruption across much of the UK, with a warning that flooding in some places could cause “danger to life”.

The Met Office has issued an amber warning for rain across parts of north Wales and northwest England, including Manchester and Liverpool, for 24 hours from midday on Wednesday.

Fast-flowing or deep floodwater is “likely”, according to the forecaster, and a good chance some communities could become cut off, suffer power cuts and see train and bus services cancelled.

A yellow warning for rain covers the north of England, the Midlands and north and central Wales until 6am on Thursday, while another is in place for southern and eastern Scotland from midday today until 6pm tomorrow.

Much of the south coast is likely to see lightning, with a yellow warning for thunderstorms in place from 8am until 7pm on Wednesday.

Get the five-day forecast where you are here

The amber warning. Pic: Met Office
An amber warning for rain lasts 24 hours from midday on Wednesday. Pic: Met Office

There are warnings for most of the UK. Pic: Met Office
There are weather warnings for most of the UK. Pic: Met Office

“Some areas are really going to see a lot of heavy, persistent rain through a big chunk of Wednesday,” Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill said.

“It is going to be a pretty wet picture as we go through the rest of the week for many places.

“There is some uncertainty as to exactly where we are going to see the heaviest rain and where is most likely to be impacted.”

Many places could see 30-40mm of rain, while a few areas may receive 60-80mm as heavy downpours move northwards throughout Wednesday.

There is even a small chance a few upland areas could see up to 150mm, according to the forecaster.

Scientists have said downpours in the storms that battered the UK and Ireland last autumn and winter were made around 20% heavier by climate change.

A warmer atmosphere holds more water vapour, a key factor in climate change driving heavier rainfall.

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Chief meteorologist Andy Page said areas exposed to strengthening northerly winds are most likely to see the highest rainfall.

Northern areas are expected to remain cloudy and wet on Thursday, but southern parts can expect drier conditions, with sunshine becoming more widespread by the end of the week.

The news is better for bank holiday Monday, which is expected to be dry for much of the country, feeling warm in the sunshine.

Government announce Anglesey as preferred site of new nuclear power station | UK News

Wylfa in North Wales is the preferred site for a major new nuclear power development, the government has announced.

Ministers are beginning talks with international energy firms to explore building the UK’s third mega-nuclear power station at the Anglesey site, according to the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ).

The department said the gigawatt nuclear power plant could provide enough clean power for six million homes for 60 years.

Britain has a target of generating a quarter of all electricity – around 24GW – from home-grown nuclear power by 2050.

The aim is part of the government’s plan to enhance energy security and deliver on net zero.

Currently, the UK generates about 15% of its electricity needs from nuclear capacity.

The Wylfa project could be similar in scale to Hinkley in Somerset and Sizewell in Suffolk, with hopes it would bring thousands of jobs and investment to the area.

Labour has accused the government of “dither and delay” on new nuclear at Wylfa, after Japanese giant Hitachi pulled out of a previous project there in 2019 because of rising costs.

Wylfa’s twin reactor Magnox nuclear power station, which went online in 1971, stopped generating power at the end of 2015 and has been decommissioned.

Energy Security Secretary Claire Coutinho said: “Anglesey has a proud nuclear history and it is only right that, once again, it can play a central role in boosting the UK’s energy security.

“Wylfa would not only bring clean, reliable power to millions of homes – it could create thousands of well-paid jobs and bring investment to the whole of North Wales.”

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‘High-tech’ nuclear power for UK

The UK is working to expand nuclear power through traditional large-scale plants as well as small modular reactors (SMRs), which supporters hope will be quicker and cheaper to construct.

Great British Nuclear aims to announce winning bidders in the tendering process to build SMRs by the end of this year.

But this is later than the spring timetable the government set last October for announcing the successful companies.

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Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said the government is “absolutely right” to pursue more large-scale nuclear alongside the SMR programme.

He said: “Wylfa is the best site in Europe for a big nuclear project: It has an existing grid connection, the hard bedrock ideal for a nuclear power station, superior cooling water access, and some work to clear the site for large-scale construction was already done by the previous developer.”

Labour’s shadow energy minister Alan Whitehead said: “We welcome the government finally moving forward with a nuclear project identified by the last Labour government.

“But this should be the bare minimum – and celebrating a tentative step forward in 2024 on a project that should have been moving in 2010 tells you everything about this tired, snail’s-pace government.”