Health research and ‘levelling-up’ of transport outside London are among big-ticket items
Rishi Sunak has rejected a fresh plea from Marcus Rashford to extend free school meals, saying the government has already acted to help children and has now “transitioned to a more normal way of doing things” post-Covid.
Meanwhile, viewers of the chancellor’s Budget speech later in the week may not get many surprises because the Treasury has already trailed some £20bn of investment ahead of time.
The spending spree includes some £7bn to “level up” transport outside London, though not all of it is new money; £500m for family support including new children’s centres; and £5bn for health research and genome sequencing.
Labour is fuming about the children’s centre funding, complaining the Conservatives had previously slashed funding for Sure Start but have now effectively co-opted the scheme. Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, said: “If you hadn’t taken all that away, imagine what difference it could have made to the lives of young people and to their parents.”
Elsewhere, Brexit negotiations are set to move to London in the week as the UK and Brussels remain “far apart” over the Northern Ireland protocol, which Boris Johnson’s government previously signed up to.
Nike suspends trainer recycling programme over Brexit costs
Nike has suspended its Reuse-a-Shoe recycling scheme in the UK as the recycling industry grapples with high costs related to Brexit, writes Kate Ng.
Customers looking to send their old shoes off for recycling can still collect a recycling bag from Nike stores to be sent to one of the brand’s four distribution centres in Belgium.
But now, they must pack the items themselves and pay for postage, which was previously paid for by Nike.
Customers now have to pay postage costs to send their old shoes for recycling
Vaccines minister insists Covid-19 ‘plan A’ is working
The new vaccines minister Maggie Throup says the government’s current approach to the surge in Covid-19 cases is working – refusing to say whether “plan B” measures could be introduced.
Speaking to LBC, Ms Throup refused to say whether further restrictions such as mandatory masks or work from home guidance. “The data right now shows that ‘plan A’ is working.”
Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, said earlier today that ‘plan B’ was not yet needed. However, some elements of the tougher measures are already in place – warning the public about the rising risk of coronavirus, and giving extra help to areas suffering “enduring transmission”.
Minister have thus far resisted more interventions, which would include mandatory face masks and advice to work from home.
Rishi Sunak admits £7bn transport pledge has only £1.5bn of new money
Rishi Sunak has admitted that his £7bn pre-Budget pledge for new transport projects contains only £1.5bn of new money, writes Adam Forrest.
Extra spending will go on train and tram upgrades in England’s cities, Mr Sunak said as he seeks to fend off protests that pledges to the north and Midlands are being broken.
Pressed on how much of the money was new, the chancellor conceded £4.2bn had previously been announced. “What we’ve done is top that up by £1.5bn,” he told Sky’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday.
Chancellor refuses to say if HS2 railway will be built in full to Leeds
‘Years lost and millions wasted’: How HS2’s eastern leg came to hang in balance
For Boris Johnson, it is a transport scheme that appeared oven-ready to deliver solutions to his two biggest challenges, writes Colin Drury.
The eastern leg of HS2 connecting Leeds and Sheffield to Birmingham and London would, advocates say, help level up vast swathes of the East Midlands, Yorkshire and the North East while also reducing the UK’s carbon emissions.
Already £140m has been spent compulsorily purchasing homes along the route. Tens of millions more have been ploughed into surveys and studies.
Yorkshire and East Midlands are expected to have hugely reduced offering under revised plans. So, Colin Drury asks, what went wrong? And what comes next for those places left behind?
Exclusive: North’s rail ‘betrayal’: HS2 to run on existing track in shoestring plan for Yorkshire route
HS2 trains will be forced to slow down and run on existing tracks between Yorkshire and the Midlands as part of government plans to scale back the major project, The Independent understands.
Fears have long been growing that the scheme’s eastern leg is to be significantly trimmed or even scrapped as part of the upcoming integrated rail plan, writes Colin Drury.
The Independent has now learned that a new station in Leeds and a new line connecting the city to South Yorkshire are both likely to be given the go-ahead – but, from there, trains heading south will have to run on existing track for much of the way to Birmingham.
Exclusive: Leeds to have new station and line but trains will slow down and move onto old network between South Yorkshire and Midlands
Full story: Rishi Sunak rejects Marcus Rashford’s call for free school meals extension
Rishi Sunak has rejected calls from Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford to extend the government’s free school meal programme, writes Adam Forrest.
The campaigning England star and supermarket bosses have called on ministers to push the scheme into the school holidays in a joint letter ahead of the Budget.
But Mr Sunak appeared to rule out any further support for meals – saying the government had “transitioned to a more normal way of doing things” after extra money put in place during the Covid crisis.
Chancellor says government has done enough with existing holiday activities scheme
Sunak rejects fresh free school meals plea from Rashford
Rishi Sunak appeared to reject calls from Marcus Rashford to extend the free school meal programme during his Sunday morning media round.
In a letter to The Sunday Times, England and Manchester United footballer joined with supermarket chiefs in asking ministers to push the scheme into the school holidays.
But Mr Sunak told The Andrew Marr Show: “So we put in place some measures to help families during coronavirus, that was the right thing to do, and in common with the other things that have now come to an end, whether it was furlough or other things, that’s right that we’ve transitioned to a more normal way of doing things.
“But we have actually already acted, is what I’d say to Marcus and everyone else. We’ve put in place something called the holiday activities program, which provides not just meals but also activities for children during holiday periods for those families that need extra help.
“That is a new programme, it was announced earlier this year, it’s being rolled out across the country, and I think that can make an enormous difference to people.”
Sunak says inflation out of his control
Rishi Sunak has indicated that a rise in inflation was due to factors he could not control.
He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “If you take the last inflation number, which was just over 3 per cent, which is obviously higher than we normally target, and you look at what’s causing that, the bulk of that increase is down to two things.
“One of those is the fact that as economies have reopened rather rapidly after coronavirus, that has put pressure on global supply chains, and then the other part of the increase is very much just down to energy prices.
“Both of those factors are global factors. We’re not alone in experiencing those problems, I don’t have a magic wand that can make either of those things disappear.”
Exclusive: Two-thirds of UK voters support tax rises for action on climate crisis
Two in three voters in the UK support tax rises to pay for measures to mitigate the climate crisis, exclusive new polling for The Independent has found.
Rishi Sunak is under pressure to avoid tax hikes from Conservative MPs sceptical of the government’s net zero plans as he prepares to deliver his Budget on Wednesday, writes Adam Forrest.
But the idea of raising taxes to deal with the climate emergency has widespread support from the British public, a survey by Savanta ComRes has revealed.
Exclusive: Poll shows widespread support for green spreading ahead of Rishi Sunak’s Budget
Labour demands government bring in Covid plan B measures now … and Rishi Sunak responds
Labour has called on government to bring in its so-called “Plan B” restrictions to tackle the surge in Covid cases, writes Adam Forrest.
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said Boris Johnson must listen to scientific advisers asking for tougher curbs – including the mandatory wearing of masks in public places and a return to work-from-home guidance.
“We think we should follow the science – if the scientists are saying wear masks and work from home we should do that,” Ms Reeves said on The Andrew Marr Show.
‘We think we should follow the science,’ says shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves