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Rishi Sunak Gives Spring Statement As UK faces Fuel and Energy Crisis

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Rishi Sunak delivered his Spring Statement as he faced pressure to help households through a cost of living crisis.

The Chancellor kicked off his address to the Commons stressing how a strong economy underpins the country’s security as Vladimir Putin’s forces attack Ukraine. He said the invasion is ‘not cost-free’ to Britain’s economy, as shockwaves ripple through the global economy amid harsh sanctions imposed on Moscow.

Fuel prices were already hitting record highs, following a surge in global gas prices due to a rise in demand and lower production in the wake of the pandemic. In a bid to cushion the blow, Sunak announced fuel duty will be cut by 5p per litre from 6pm this evening, which he said was the biggest reduction ever. This temporary fall will go on until March next year and will amount to a tax cut worth £5billion.

On top of that, Sunak said that for the first time in 16 years, the basic rate of income tax will be cut from 20% to 19% ‘before the end of this parliament’ – which will be in 2024.

Sunak also said he will scrap VAT on energy efficiency measures such as solar panels, heat pumps and insulation installed for five years. He told MPs: ‘A family having a solar panel installed will see tax savings worth over £1,000. And savings on their energy bill of over £300 per year.’

He said the policy will not apply immediately to Northern Ireland due to ‘deficiencies’ in the Northern Ireland Protocol but said support would be offered.

It comes as Brits face a 54% rise in energy bills from next month as regulator Ofgem increases its price cap. The Chancellor also said he is doubling the Household Support Fund to £1billion, with local authorities best placed to help those in need in their areas, adding they will receive this funding from April.

With the future looking so bleak, Sunak faced calls to axe a planned increase in National Insurance contributions to cushion the blow for everyday people. But the Chancellor has defended the plans as a necessary after two years of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He was also accused of imposing a ‘stealth tax’ by not raising the National Insurance thresholds in line with inflation. But today, Sunak announced a £3,000 jump in the basic rate at which the levy is paid – rising from £9,600 to £12,570 and bringing it in line with income tax. The Chancellor described this as a £6billion personal tax cut for 30million people in the UK – worth over £330 a year.

Sunak said his new ‘tax plan’ being published today will ‘help families with the cost of living’, ‘create the conditions for higher growth’, and ‘share the proceeds of growth fairly’.

Sunak has already announced a £200 loan for gas and electricity payments from October, although not until the price cap jumps by 54%. Households will have to pay back the £200 rebate over four instalments from next year when energy prices should supposedly fall.

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Deborah James Awarded Damehood After Raising Over £3,000,000 for Charity

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Deborah James has said she is ‘blown away’ after being made a Dame for her tireless campaigning for cancer charities.

The inspirational broadcaster and author announced earlier this week that she is receiving hospice care at home after stopping her cancer treatment, and has said she ‘could have weeks to live at most’.

In recent days, the You, Me & The Big C host has raised over £3million for charities that have helped her over the past five years, through her Bowelbabe Fund.

After calls for her to receive the Royal honour, it has been revealed that Deborah is now officially Dame Deborah James.

‘I don’t know what to say. I’m blown away and feel incredibly honoured,’ she said reacting to the news.

She added ‘I don’t feel like I deserve this. I can’t tell you what this means to my family, it’s so much to take in.’

Her husband Sebastien Bowen, said the public support of the fundraiser has ‘brought a piercing ray of light and hope into this, the darkest of times’, adding that the Damehood is ‘so truly deserved’.

Downing Street said the Queen was ‘pleased to approve the honour of damehood’ be bestowed upon Deborah James.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed Dame Deborah as an figure of inspiration to the country.

‘If ever an honour was richly deserved, this is it,’ the leader said.

‘Deborah has been an inspiration and her honesty, warmth and courage has been a source of strength to so many people.’

Thank you for all your incredible work.

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EuroMillions: UK ticket holder claims £184m jackpot

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One lucky ticket-holder’s life has changed forever after winning the £184million EuroMillions jackpot. It means they have become the biggest ever National Lottery winner, operator Camelot has said.

Whoever they are, they have knocked the anonymous winner of £170million in October 2019 off the top spot. They have also become the National Lottery’s 14th winner of more than £100million.

The winner, who is yet to be named, is also the second person in the UK to win the EuroMillions jackpot this year, after someone bagged £109million in February.

The winning numbers were 3, 25, 27, 28 and 29 – plus the Lucky Star numbers 4 and 9. One ticket matched all seven numbers to win £184,262,899.10.

Senior winners’ adviser for the National Lottery, Andy Carter said: “What an amazing night for one UK ticket-holder who has scooped the incredible £184million EuroMillions jackpot – they have become the UK’s biggest ever National Lottery winner.”

The claim will now go through a validation process to ensure terms and conditions are met and once the ticket has been validated the winner can choose whether or not to remain anonymous.

What would you do with all that money?

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Baby P’s Killer Mum Tracey Connelly Set for Prison Release after Judge Gives Green Light

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Tracey Connelly, the mother of Baby P, who died after months of abuse, will be released from prison after the Parole Board rejected a Government challenge against its ruling.

The decision comes after Justice Secretary Dominic Raab appealed against the recommendation to free Tracey Connelly from prison.

Connelly was jailed at the Old Bailey in 2009 for causing or allowing the death of her 17-month-old son Peter at their home in Tottenham, north London, on August 3 2007.

Dominic Raab said the decision demonstrated why the system “needs a fundamental overhaul – including a ministerial check for the most serious offenders”.

Now 40, this was Connelly’s fourth parole review after she was released on licence in 2013 but recalled to prison in 2015 for breaching her parole conditions by “developing intimate personal relationships” online and inciting another resident at her accommodation to engage in “inappropriate sexualised behaviour”.

In a statement, the Parole Board said: “In summary, the judge has concluded that the panel did take into consideration all evidence mentioned by the application and made rational conclusions.

“The reconsideration decision clarifies that the weight given to the evidence given by the Secretary of States witnesses, who supported release, and the proposed external controls, was proportionate and the reasons were clearly outlined in the decision letter.

“The final ground on the rationality of the outcome was also rejected on the grounds of not reaching the threshold, as defined by law, for becoming unreasonable.”

The Parole Board, which is independent of government, received a formal request to review the decision to free Connelly last week.

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