Plan B decision delayed by ministers – follow live

Plan B decision delayed by ministers – follow live
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Former minister Robert Jenrick admits Test and Trace failures ‘concerning’

Ministers have reportedly decided to wait until after the half-term break to decide if they will enforce so-called plan B Covid restrictions, despite the UK reporting 263 deaths on Tuesday – the highest figure since 3 March.

Measures under consideration include restricting household mixing indoors this winter, as data modelling suggestsworking from home and mandatory mask wearing might not be enough to avoid an increase in hospital admissions.

The government will wait another two weeks before making its final decision on the matter, The Independent understands, amid calls from Labour to “follow the science” with shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves arguing if “scientists are saying work from home and wear masks, we should do that”.

It comes amid a damning report by MPs, which concludes the NHS Test and Trace system cost taxpayers “eye-watering” sums of money.

The programme was rapidly set up in May last year, with the objective of testing the nation and tracing contacts of positive cases. But the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said, among other findings, the programme “failed to achieve its main objective” of letting people return to a normal life.

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ICYMI: Watch anti-vaxx parents mock child speaking at school meeting

Anti-vaxx parents mock child speaking at school meeting
Sam Hancock27 October 2021 09:21
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Ed Sheeran’s daughter tests positive for Covid

Ed Sheeran’s one-year-old daughter Lyra has tested positive for coronavirus.

This news comes after the 30-year-old singer also confirmed that he had tested positive for the virus on Monday ahead of his scheduled appearance on Saturday Night Live.

The “Bad Habits” singer is currently isolating with his daughter for 10 days away from his wife, Cherry Seaborn, reports Peony Hirwani.

Ed Sheeran’s daughter tests positive for Covid-19

Singer is currently isolating with his child for 10 days

Sam Hancock27 October 2021 09:19
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Should ministers enforce another lockdown? Tell us in our poll

As Covid infection rates soar across the UK, questions are being asked about what measures are in place to stem the rise.

Many believe more needs to be done to protect the NHS from becoming too stretched and to stop the infection rate getting out of control. And in minutes published last Friday, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said advice to work from home is “likely to have the greatest individual impact” in cutting infections, which are now increasing in the majority of age groups and regions across the UK, according to official data.

But what do you think? Should the government be imposing another lockdown? Should restrictions be increased? Or do you think sticking with the government’s plan A is the best course of action?

Tell us in our poll, and we’ll publish the results at the end of the week:

Should the government be enforcing another lockdown? Tell us in our poll

We want to know if you think it is time for another lockdown as Covid infection rates rise

Sam Hancock27 October 2021 08:56
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‘Lessons must be learnt’ from Test and Trace failures, says former minister

The NHS Test and Trace system “played an important part” in tackling coronavirus, a former minister has said, before admitting that is “concerning” a Commons committee found it had failed to achieve its “main objective”.

Speaking to Sky News earlier, Robert Jenrick said:

“Are there lessons that can, and should, be learnt from it? Absolutely.”

Sam Hancock27 October 2021 08:41
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Test and Trace treated taxpayer ‘like an ATM machine,’ says Labour MP

The controversial Test and trace programme treated taxpayers as if they were an ATM machine, a Labour MP who chairs the Commons Public Accounts Committee has said.

A highly critical report by the committee found the programme, headed by Baroness Harding, failed in its objectives despite spending £37bn.

The committee chairwoman Dame Meg Hillier told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme:

“There was a lot of gung-ho confidence from No 10 that we would have a ‘moonshot’ towards mass testing.

“Those messages kept getting more optimistic. Baroness Harding was also very optimistic about what they achieved.

“But in the end it massively over-promised for what it delivered and it was eye-watering sums of money.

“That is one of the biggest concerns – it is almost as if the taxpayer was an ATM machine. That lack of regard for taxpayer funding is a real concern for us as a committee.”

<p>Dame Meg Hillier</p>

Dame Meg Hillier

Sam Hancock27 October 2021 08:28
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Budget’s ‘optimism’ boosted by projected post-Covid growth

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will hail a “new age of optimism” in his Budget amid predictions he will have more money than expected to spend due to a fast bounce-back from Covid.

Mr Sunak is set to strike an upbeat tone as he talks up building a “stronger economy of the future”, with the promise of rising wages, cash for the NHS and investment into regional transport projects.

His spending plans are likely to be bolstered by forecasts of faster growth than predicted in the spring as the economy roars back into life since the lifting of coronavirus restrictions, according to analysts.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), the independent body whose forecasts guide Budget spending, is expected to up its growth outlook for 2021, cut its unemployment prediction and pencil in lower borrowing thanks to higher tax receipts.

The EY Item Club, a UK economic forecasting group, believes the OBR will hike its gross domestic product (GDP) forecast for 2021 to growth of 7 per cent from the 4 per cent forecast at the last fiscal statement in March. It also predicts the OBR will slash its estimate for how much the pandemic has scarred the economy to as low as 1 per cent, which could boost the government’s fiscal position by £25bn a year by 2025.

The Times said the GDP growth figures, matched with “favourable” employment figures, could give the Chancellor another £20bn to £30bn extra to spend.

Sam Hancock27 October 2021 08:10
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Budge optimism boosted by projected post-Covid growth

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will hail a “new age of optimism” in his Budget amid predictions he will have more money than expected to spend due to a fast bounce-back from Covid.

Mr Sunak is set to strike an upbeat tone as he talks up building a “stronger economy of the future”, with the promise of rising wages, cash for the NHS and investment into regional transport projects.

His spending plans are likely to be bolstered by forecasts of faster growth than predicted in the spring as the economy roars back into life since the lifting of coronavirus restrictions, according to analysts.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), the independent body whose forecasts guide Budget spending, is expected to up its growth outlook for 2021, cut its unemployment prediction and pencil in lower borrowing thanks to higher tax receipts.

The EY Item Club, a UK economic forecasting group, believes the OBR will hike its gross domestic product (GDP) forecast for 2021 to growth of 7 per cent from the 4 per cent forecast at the last fiscal statement in March. It also predicts the OBR will slash its estimate for how much the pandemic has scarred the economy to as low as 1 per cent, which could boost the government’s fiscal position by £25bn a year by 2025.

The Times said the GDP growth figures, matched with “favourable” employment figures, could give the Chancellor another £20bn to £30bn extra to spend.

Sam Hancock27 October 2021 08:10
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Test and Trace cost taxpayer ‘eye-watering’ sums of money

NHS Test and Trace has cost taxpayers “eye-watering” sums of money and “has not achieved its main objective” of letting people return to a normal live , a damning report by MPs has concluded.

The programme was rapidly set up in May last year and spearheaded by Baroness Dido Harding, with the objective of testing the nation and tracing contacts of positive cases. But a report from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said the scheme was “muddled” and a number of the aims of the programme have been “overstated or not achieved”.

The failures come despite the programme being given the equivalent of 20 per cent of the NHS’s entire annual budget – £37bn over two years, writes Joe Middleton.

NHS Test and Trace used ‘eye-watering’ sums of money

A report by MPs said the scheme was ‘muddled’ and a number of aims ‘overstated or not achieved’

Sam Hancock27 October 2021 08:03
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Ministers delay plan B decision by two weeks

Ministers will not make a decision on Covid-19 restrictions for two weeks until the impact of half-term on infections can be seen, The Independent understands.

The UK reported 263 deaths on Tuesday, a higher number than any day since 3 March at the tail end of the second wave, when 315 were reported.

It comes amid an increasing clamour from experts and politicians to impose measures, including social distancing, as soon as possible. Labour has leant its backing to imposing plan-B measures and called on the government to enact it without “dither and delay”, reports our economics editor Anna Isaac.

Ministers put off Covid decisions for two weeks

Holding back on restrictions comes as some experts and the Labour Party have called for measures to be introduced

Sam Hancock27 October 2021 08:00
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Good morning, and welcome to The Independent’s rolling Covid coverage. Stay tuned as we bring you the latest statistics and updates to do with the pandemic.

Sam Hancock27 October 2021 07:56

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