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Government warned to reinstate eviction ban to prevent people from losing homes during cost of living crisis | UK News

The eviction ban must be reinstated in England to ensure no one loses their home during the cost of living crisis, a new report has warned.

The Kerslake Commission on Homelessness and Rough Sleeping warned that inaction could lead to a “catastrophic” homelessness crisis, with the government failing to meet its manifesto pledge to end rough sleeping.

Its new report calls on the government to temporarily bring back the eviction ban – mirroring what was announced in Scotland earlier this month.

The report calls for a pause in benefits deductions and for benefits to be increased immediately – not next April as planned.

It urges the government to take a “two-pronged” approach to get people off the streets and ensure vulnerable tenants do not end up on them.

The commission was set up to examine the lessons from the public health emergency response to rough sleeping during the pandemic. It is chaired by former head of the Civil Service Lord Bob Kerslake and comprises 36 experts from the health, housing and homelessness sectors.

Its latest report includes new recommendations on the cost-of-living crisis and says “the cost of not acting now is too great, as we stand on the precipice of a new emergency”.

Lord Kerslake said the government’s responses to the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis “must be equally urgent”.

He added that failure to act could see this become a “homelessness as well as an economic crisis” and that the results could be “catastrophic”.

The National Residential Landlords Association said it was right to call for improvements to the benefits system, but that preventing failed tenancies from ending would be “catastrophic” and would not address people’s hardships.

Chief executive Ben Beadle said: “There is a very real danger that an eviction ban would give free rein to tenants committing antisocial behaviour and those deliberately not paying their rents, knowing they will face no consequences and the bill will be picked up by others.”

The government did not say whether it was considering a temporary ban.

A spokeswoman said: “We are giving councils £316 million this year to ensure families are not left without a roof over their heads.

“This is alongside the action we are taking to support families with the cost of living this winter through our £37 billion pound support package.

“This includes £1,200 this year for the most vulnerable, helping them to pay their bills and stay in their homes.”

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.”

BrewDog to close six pubs due to spiralling costs and ‘no prospect of help from clueless government’ | Business News

BrewDog has announced it will close six of its pubs, blaming spiralling costs and a “clueless government”.

The craft beer firm will shut the Hop and Anchor in Aberdeen, Smithfield Market Arms in London, Hop Hub in Motherwell and its BrewDog bars in Dalston, east London; Old Street, east London; and Peterhead, Scotland.

James Watt, founder and chief executive of the company, said in a LinkedIn post that the hospitality sector faces “sheer ‘rabbit in the headlights’ paralysis of this zombie government” as rocketing costs threaten the future of many pubs, restaurants and bars.

Cost of WFH v commuting outlined – cost of living latest

He said it was “heart-breaking” to lose the six pubs but added: “Reality in the hospitality space is starting to bite and bite hard. And the government needs to get a grip, now.

“If nothing happens, the UK looks set to lose half of its pubs and bars and all the millions of jobs these locations provide, as well as the vital role they play in local communities.”

A spokesman for the company said staff at the affected pubs had been redeployed in other venues, and no jobs would be lost.

It comes just two weeks after BrewDog opened its largest bar in London’s Waterloo station, with Mr Watt saying this location had received more than 20,000 visitors since then.

However, he said it was important not to let this success “blind us all to the reality we as a sector are facing”, adding that he had no choice but to close the six pubs.

Read more on Sky News:
‘Nobody expected to be hit with this crisis’: Hospitality businesses call for urgent VAT cut
Who is going on strike in August and September – and for how long

“I warned a few weeks ago, costs are rising to such a degree, with no prospect of any help from a clueless government, that these very difficult decisions have to be made,” he said.

“It was going to be simply impossible to get these bars even close to financial viability in the foreseeable future. We had no choice but to close them.

“I am so, so happy that due to the strength in other parts of our bar estate, every single person has been offered a role in a separate bar nearby, so there will be no job losses. But I pray this is not a sign of things to come.”

It comes a day after trade group UKHospitality called on the government for urgent support, including VAT cuts, to prevent “tens of thousands of job losses”.

The call was backed earlier in August by Manchester’s night time economy adviser Sacha Lord and chef Simon Wood, who both said government needed to cut VAT for hospitality businesses.

At the time, Mr Wood said the energy bill for his restaurant WOOD Manchester had gone from £6,000 a month to £16,000.

Government ‘must do more’ to help energy consumers pay soaring bills | Business News

The government must increase its energy bills discount by at least 150% or risk pushing millions of households into financial distress.

That is the warning from consumer group Which? ahead of Friday’s announcement of the energy price cap for the three months from October.

In May, the government said that it would give every household a £400 discount on energy bills, with more help available for those deemed vulnerable, such as the disabled or pensioners.

This was announced when the energy price cap was predicted to reach around £2,800 in October, but more recent forecasts are predicting £3,554 in October, £4,650 in January, and more than £5,300 in April.

Which? said that the government’s support should, therefore, increase from £400 to £1,000 – or from £67 to £167 per month from October to March.

But even this would not be enough for those on the lowest incomes, Which? said, adding that they should also be given an extra one-off minimum payment of £150.

Rocio Concha, Which? director of policy and advocacy, added: “While increased support will provide relief for many, it is not a long-term solution.

“The government and regulator must urgently undertake a wide-ranging review of retail energy pricing – including the price cap – to build a fair and affordable system for consumers.

“The government must also develop a programme to urgently improve the insulation of homes – as this will help to reduce people’s energy costs for years to come.”

Meanwhile, the Resolution Foundation said that, even with the support already announced, the four million people on pre-payment meters – often the most vulnerable – would be spending around 44% of their monthly disposable income on bills.

Jonny Marshall, a senior economist at the Resolution Foundation, said: “A catastrophe is coming this winter as soaring energy bills risk causing serious physical and financial damage to families across Britain.

“We are on course for thousands to see their energy cut off entirely, while millions will be unable to pay bills and (will) build up unmanageable arrears.

“The new prime minister will need to think the unthinkable in terms of the policies needed to get sufficient support to where it’s needed most.

“Significant additional support should be targeted at those most exposed to rising bills and least able to cope with them, and be watertight so that no-one falls through the cracks.

“But none of the proposals from the leadership candidates or the opposition parties currently do this.”

The foundation also called for a new social energy tariff for low and middle income households, funded by an extra 1% on income tax rates.

Read more:
What happens if you can’t pay your energy bills
UK inflation to top 18% as gas prices soar, banking giant Citi forecasts

Mr Marshall said that would have been “an unthinkable policy in the context of the leadership debates, but a practical solution to the reality facing families this winter”.

Alison Garnham, Child Poverty Action Group chief executive, added that low-income families will be short on their energy bills by an estimated £1,000 in the year to April 2023.

She said: “Over the next few months families will need extra support that covers their costs and reflects family size, and social security must rise to match inflation from April.

“Four million children are already in poverty with many others now perilously close to it. Leaving their families to sink cannot be an option.”

A Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy spokesman said: “We know the pressures people are facing with rising costs, which is why we are taking direct action to help households with £37bn worth of support.

“In addition to providing eight million of the most vulnerable households with £1,200 extra support this winter, we are also investing £6.6bn in this parliament to improve energy efficiency as part of the government’s ‘Help to Heat’ programme which is helping make households across the country cheaper to heat.”

Government diversity training ‘riddled with left-wing views’, says Suella Braverman | Politics News

Diversity training across government departments is “riddled with left-wing views”, claims Suella Braverman.

The attorney general says she is “all for a diverse workforce… meritocracy [and] inclusion”, but tells Sky News there has been a “takeover by HR teams [and] campaign groups” in the civil service, which has “propagated a political ideology when it comes to identity politics”.

She is backing plans from Conservative leadership contender Liz Truss to scrap the diversity and inclusion roles in Whitehall, which the foreign secretary claims will save £12m a year.

The policy was part of the candidate’s plan to “wage war on Whitehall waste” announced earlier this week, which led to a huge U-turn on how to save £8.8bn on public sector pay.

Politics Hub: Sunak and Truss prepare for Sky News Battle for Number 10 leadership special

Ms Truss had wanted to introduce regional pay boards to set salaries dependent on where people lived, but it sparked fury from Tory MPs worried it could hit the likes of nurses, teachers and police officers in less affluent areas.

Less than 24 hours after the plan was announced, Team Truss scrapped the regional element, but indicated they would be sticking with other parts, including the removal of these Civil Service roles.

Ms Braverman – who ran for the leadership herself, but got behind Ms Truss after she was knocked out – says there has been “thousands of hours” of diversity and inclusion training within government departments at “a huge cost to the tax payer”.

“It’s been divisive, not inclusive,” she told Sky News. “It’s been patronising, not empowering.

“It’s based on an assumption that me as an ethnic Asian woman from working class roots must be a victim, necessarily oppressed. That’s a misassumption. And I think it creates division.

“It’s tearing up society, breaking down the fabric of our country. And I think it’s a waste of money.”

‘Divisive nature’

The attorney general also claimed the way it is taught is “indoctrinating”, adding: “The training materials that I’ve seen used in the civil service is riddled with left-wing views on race and gender, things like white privilege.

“Civil servants are taught about micro-aggressions. They’re taught about white fragility. They’re taught about how to be a straight ally. I don’t think those are objectively impartial when it comes to politics.

“And I don’t think they are good value for money. And I don’t think ultimately that’s what taxpayers want their civil servants or their government lawyers to be spending their time on.”

Ms Braverman denied her views – and Ms Truss’s policy – were “anti-woke”, instead saying they were “against identity politics and the divisive nature of all of this”.

But she also admitted it was not the “biggest issue of the day”.

“It comes to civil service efficiency, it comes to government delivery,” she says.

“And if we can reduce the cost of civil service to reduce the cost of government, that’s only not only good for the economy and public spending, it’s also really good for efficiency and public service delivery for individuals.”

The issue may well arise at Sky News’ Battle for Number 10 programme at 8pm tonight.

Ms Truss and Mr Sunak will take part in back-to-back questioning from a live studio audience at Sky Studios in west London – made up of undecided Conservative Party members – before facing an in-depth interview with Kay Burley.

‘The Battle for Number 10′ will be broadcast live for 90 minutes and for free on Sky News channel 501, on Freeview 233, on Sky Showcase channel 106, and across Sky News’ digital channels.