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‘No drop in standards’ amid diversity row, head of RAF says | UK News

There has been “no drop in operational standards”, the head of the RAF has said, after its head of recruitment described a policy on diversity as “unlawful”.

Sky News reported last month that a group captain refused to follow an order to prioritise women and ethnic minority candidates.

She told her boss in an email that she was unwilling to allocate slots on Royal Air Force training courses based purely on a specific gender or ethnicity.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston told Sky News on Tuesday there was “absolutely no drop in operational standards, no drop in any standards”.

He said: “There was no discrimination against any group, no standards were dropped, there was no discrimination against any group.

“No approach to recruiting, or any measures that we’ve taken to recruit from the widest pool of talent in the UK workforce, has in any way detracted from our operational standards and our operational service.”

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Head of RAF rejects diversity claims

He added: “We’ve been very clear where we stand. We will continue to examine our practices, we will do everything we can to recruit from the widest pool of talent.

“We will be very clear about how we approach any attempts to widen that pool of talent, widen our diversity, and we will continue to protect the nation, we will secure our skies and patrol our seas.”

The MOD has announced it aims to increase the ratio of female recruits coming into the Armed Forces in general to 30% by 2030 from around 12%.

The RAF is aiming to go further. It is seeking for the ratio of female air force recruits to hit 40% by the end of the decade – more than double the current level.

The target for ethnic minorities is to reach 20% of all air force recruits within the same timeframe, up from around 10%.

House prices continue to rise – up for the 12th month in a row | Business News

Annual house price growth in the UK accelerated to 11% in July, slightly up from the 10.7% seen in June, according to new figures.

House prices increased by 0.1% month-on-month – the 12th consecutive monthly increase – according to Nationwide Building Society.

The average house price in July reached £271,209.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said the housing market had been surprisingly buoyant so far, given the strains on households’ budgets and consumer confidence plunging to a record low.

He added: “We continue to expect the market to slow as pressure on household budgets intensifies in the coming quarters, with inflation set to reach double digits towards the end of the year.”

Marc von Grundherr, director of London estate agent Benham and Reeves, said: “You’d have thought that having gorged themselves on a feast of mortgage affordability and stamp duty reductions during the pandemic, the appetite of the nation’s homebuyers would be dwindling.

“This clearly isn’t the case and even a string of consecutive interest rate hikes are yet to taint their taste buds as they continue to pile their plates high – pushing house prices to record highs in the process.

“With the bricks and mortar buffet on offer remaining understocked with regard to the level of homes available, we can expect property prices to remain robust even against an uncertain economic backdrop.”

‘Market momentum remains unwavered’

James Forrester, managing director of Barrows and Forrester, added: “Market momentum remains unwavered, having weathered a prolonged period of Brexit uncertainty, a global pandemic, increasing inflation and the most incompetent prime minister in living memory.

“All things considered, it seems as though nothing short of an apocalypse can bring the property market to its knees.”

But managing director of HBB Solutions, Chris Hodgkinson, said: “While house prices remain sky high, home sellers would be well advised to fasten their seatbelts as we’re likely to witness a period of heightened turbulence before the year is out.

“Buyer demand levels are already starting to wane and when the well runs dry, home sellers will have to adjust their asking price expectations in order to secure a sale, as a perfect storm of increasing mortgage costs, record inflation levels and the steep cost of living all put pressure on the UK property market.”