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Premier League sets goal of swift funding ‘New Deal’ with EFL | Business News

The Premier League is targeting a financial agreement with its lower league counterparts within weeks as English football seeks to head off political criticism over the distribution of money through the sport.

Sky News has learnt that the Premier League told its 20 ‘shareholders’ on Thursday that it now hoped to reach a swift conclusion to the long-running talks, with top flight clubs preparing to fork out well over £100m in additional funding every year to the English Football League (EFL).

Further details of the so-called ‘New Deal’ for football were unclear on Friday, but the communication to clubs including Arsenal, Manchester City and newcomers Luton Town suggests that an end to negotiations may finally be in sight.

However, an imminent agreement may yet prove elusive, according to one executive involved in the discussions, reflecting the complexity and significance of a deal.

The talks have focused in part on the proportion of ‘net media revenues’ – or combined broadcast income – across the two organisations that the Premier League would agree to see redistributed to the 72 EFL clubs.

In March, Sky News revealed that the top flight had offered a £30m annual cash sweetener in an attempt to secure a deal, but talks since then have made only painstaking progress.

One club executive said on Friday that they had been told that Richard Masters, the Premier League’s chief executive, was “hopeful that a resolution can be reached quickly”.

A further update is expected this month, they added.

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Sources on both sides of the table said that a switch in the EFL’s desired formula for calculating the sums that it would receive had taken place during the process.

The communication came on the eve of the new Premier League seasons and at a time of intense scrutiny on the potential impact of the huge sums being splurged by the Saudi Pro League on signing players from around the world.

In June, MPs on the culture, media and sport select committee said the Premier League and EFL should urgently reach agreement on the provision of funding throughout the English football pyramid, or have a settlement imposed on them by a new regulator that ministers have plkedged to establish.

“Unless the football authorities get their act together soon on agreeing a fairer share of revenue, we risk more clubs collapsing, with the devastating impact that can have on local communities,” Dame Caroline Dinenage, the committee chair, said.

In a white paper published earlier this year, the government said: “The current distribution of revenue is not sufficient, contributing to problems of financial unsustainability and having a destabilising effect on the football pyramid.

“Therefore, there remains a clear need to reform financial distributions in English football.”

The white paper highlighted a £4bn chasm between the combined revenues of Premier League clubs and those of Championship clubs in the 2020-21 season.

The £125m-a-year proposed by the top flight in March would be in addition to the current system of ‘solidarity payments’ it makes to Championship and other EFL clubs – currently totalling £110m-a-year.

Excluding teams which are in receipt of parachute payments, each Championship club received £4.8m last season, while those in League One and League Two got £720,000 and £480,000 respectively.

Meanwhile, clubs which relegated from the Premier League received £44m in their first season in the Championship in 2022-23, £36m in year two and £16m the season after.

The Premier League declined to comment, while an EFL spokesperson said discussions were ongoing.

Kidney disease ‘could become public health emergency’ without more funding, charity warns | UK News

Kidney disease could become a public health emergency without more government funding, a charity has warned.

The illness already costs the UK economy £7bn a year, according to a new report by Kidney Research UK, and that could rise to £13.9bn in the next decade if no action is taken.

That covers the direct cost of treatment to the NHS, as well as money lost by those left unable to work.

The main factor which could drive up costs is an increase in demand for dialysis – a crucial treatment for patients who suffer kidney failure.

More than seven million people live with chronic kidney disease across the country, the charity estimates.

But that figure could rise, with people with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and those who are obese most at risk.

The charity wants the government to commit £50m a year into kidney disease research – way up from the £17.7m its report says was provided in 2021-22.

NHS ‘risks being overwhelmed’

Kidney Research UK said the greater funding could be put towards developing better prevention strategies and treatment options, as well as earlier diagnosis.

Chief executive Sandra Currie said without it, the NHS “risks being overwhelmed with demand”.

“There is no cure for kidney disease, a transplant does not last a lifetime and dialysis patients face hours of gruelling treatment every week, taking them away from loved ones and making it harder to work,” she added.

“We know the only hope for stopping the growth of kidney disease and the increasing burden to the health system, the economy and to patients is better prevention strategies, earlier diagnosis and better treatment options, and yet kidney disease isn’t even included in NHS long-term strategic plans.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said the government is “committed” to improving services for patients living with kidney disease.

“We fund research for all aspects of health, including research into kidney disease, through the National Institute for Health and Care Research,” they added.

British Steel cuts 7% of workforce despite government funding talks | Business News

British Steel has revealed it is to cut 260 jobs, almost 7% of its workforce, despite continuing government funding talks with its Chinese owners.

It was announced that the losses would be felt at its Scunthorpe plant through the closure of its coking ovens – used to turn coal into the high-temperature product needed to service its blast furnaces.

The Unite union responded by saying it would look to defend every job and did not rule out the prospect of industrial action.

The move was revealed after Sky News reported that officials from the Department for Business and Trade were due in China to meet executives from Jingye Group amid protracted talks about a £300m grant.

Sources said the talks were expected to focus on the value of an energy subsidy package, which could take the overall value of government support for British Steel to approximately £1bn.

The prospect of additional taxpayers’ cash had been dependent on job guarantees.

Sky’s City editor Mark Kleinman reported last month that Jingye was drawing up plans to cut around 800 jobs at British Steel.

The company placed no timeframe on its proposals but said it had entered talks with unions.

It placed an emphasis on cutting its environmental impact and energy bills.

The Scunthorpe steel plant
The Scunthorpe British Steel plant

The company said its costs, on both fronts, rose by a combined £190m last year.

It declared in a statement that “decisive action is required because of the unprecedented rise in operating costs, surging inflation and the need to improve environmental performance.”

British Steel chief executive Xifeng Han said: “Steel is vital to modern economies and with demand expected to grow over the coming decades, British Steel has a crucial role to play in ensuring the UK has its own supply of high-quality steel.

“To make sure we can deliver the steel Britain requires, we’re undergoing the biggest transformation in our 130-year history.”

He added: “We have taken action to reduce costs within our control; however, steelmaking in the UK remains uncompetitive when compared to other international steelmakers.

“Our energy costs, carbon costs and labour costs are some of the highest across the world, which are factors that we cannot influence directly.

“For the reasons outlined, we entered into talks with the UK government in summer 2022 and are extremely grateful for its support.

“It’s important we have the correct policies and frameworks in place to back our drive to become a clean, green and successful company and we’re continuing to discuss this with the government.”

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Unite general secretary Sharon Graham responded: “British Steel workers are faced with the toxic combination of a greedy employer that is reneging on investment promises and a shambolic UK government that has no serious plan for the industry.

“Unite’s members in British Steel are clear that they will fight this and they will have the full support of their union.

Unite national officer Linda McCulloch said: “This union has not yet seen any financial justification for the closure of the coking ovens. British Steel needs to come clean and open its book in order to try to justify its decisions.

“Unite will pursue every avenue, including industrial action, to defend members’ jobs at British Steel.”

Sizewell C nuclear power plant given green light with £700m of government funding | Politics News

Boris Johnson has given the green light to the Sizewell C nuclear power plant in Suffolk, promising £700m of government funding for the project.

He confirmed the move during a speech from the site in one of his final acts as prime minister – and amid the rising cost of living crisis – saying he was “absolutely confident it will get over the line” in the next few weeks.

The government has previously said the £20bn power plant would take just under a decade to build and could power six million homes.

Mr Johnson is due to be replaced as prime minister next week when either Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss is announced as his successor.

Politics live: Boris Johnson makes £700m promise as time in office draws to a close

In his speech, the PM praised the history of nuclear discoveries in the UK, but asked “what happened to us?” – claiming British nuclear energy was in “paralysis”.

He decried the “short termism” that he said led to no new nuclear power plants being built in the UK in nearly 30 years, while the likes of France had built four in the same timeframe.

And he criticised past leaders of both Labour and the Liberal Democrats – though not mentioning his own party’s time in office – saying it had been “a chronic case of politicians not being able to see beyond the political cycle” and choosing to invest.

Mr Johnson said his government’s British energy security strategy was “rectifying the chronic mistakes of the past and taking the long term decisions that it needs”, adding: “We need to pull our national finger out and get on with Sizewell C.

“This project will create tens of thousands of jobs, it will also power six million homes – that is roughly a fifth of all the homes in the UK – so it’ll help to fix the energy needs, not just of this generation but of the next.”

Earlier this week, the Financial Times reported that by taking a stake in Sizewell C, the government would give confidence to investors about the country’s commitment to new nuclear power stations.

The newspaper also said French state-owned EDF, the project developer, is set to take stake too as part of efforts to remove a Chinese state-backed nuclear energy company from the project.

But campaign group Stop Sizewell said the power station was a “vanity project” for the PM that his successor should “consign to the bin”.

They added: “When every penny matters, it’s totally wrong to shackle the next prime minister and billions in taxpayers’ money to this damaging project, whose ballooning cost, lengthy construction, failure-prone technology and long term water supply are so uncertain.”

Mr Johnson said there was “no cultural aversion to nuclear power” in the UK, and the campaign group – who protested outside the site ahead of his speech – we an example of “pure nimbyism”.

He added: “A baby born this year will be getting energy from Sizewell C long after she retires and this new reactor is just a part of our Great British nuclear campaign.”

TfL secures £1.2bn funding but mayor warns fare increases and bus service cuts still likely | Business News

Transport for London has secured around £1.2bn in funding from the government, but the city’s mayor has warned the agreement is “far from ideal”.

The funding package replaces TfL’s last bailout, which was the fourth since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020.

Andy Byford, Transport for London commissioner, said the agreement, which lasts until the end of March 2024, would bring benefits for the whole country.

“There is no UK recovery without a London recovery, and no London recovery without a properly funded transport network,” he said.

Mr Byford added that the funding would help avoid large-scale cuts to services and would mean the company would commit £3.6bn to capital investment over the period.

Among the projects to benefit will be new Piccadilly line trains, the repair of Hammersmith Bridge and the extension of the Northern line.

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, said that the agreement brought “a number of key concessions from the government”, though he warned that it was “far from ideal”.

He said there would still be a £740m funding gap in TfL’s budget over the next 20 months, adding: “We will likely have to increase fares in the future and still proceed with some cuts to bus services.”

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‘Onerous strings attached’

Mr Khan said: “There are also onerous strings attached, such as the government’s condition requiring TfL to come up with options for reform of TfL’s pension scheme at pace, which could well lead to more industrial action and more disruption for commuters.

“These are things we have had no choice but to accept in order to get the deal over the line to avoid TfL becoming bankrupt, to save the jobs of thousands of transport workers and to keep trains, tubes and buses running across our city.”

He added: “The sole cause of TfL’s financial crisis was the impact of the pandemic so it’s simply wrong to punish Londoners and transport workers in this way.

“Levelling up the country should not be about levelling down London.”

‘Put politics to one side and get on with the job’

Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, said: “For over two years now we’ve time and again shown our unwavering commitment to London and the transport network it depends on, but we have to be fair to taxpayers across the entire country.

“This deal more than delivers for Londoners and even matches the mayor’s own pre-pandemic spending plans, but for this to work the mayor must follow through on his promises to get TfL back on a steady financial footing, stop relying on government bailouts and take responsibility for his actions.

“Now is the time to put politics to one side and get on with the job – Londoners depend on it.”