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Rishi Sunak hints tax rises will be DELAYED amid layoffs by firms

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rishi sunak hints tax rises will be delayed amid layoffs by firms

Rishi Sunak hinted that tax rises could be delayed to save jobs today as it emerged firms have already made plans to lay off 500,000 people during the coronavirus crisis. 

After using his Tory conference speech to warn hikes will be needed, the Chancellor insisted his ‘focus at the moment’ was on propping up the economy and the books would only be balanced ‘over time’.

The comments came in a round of interviews after new figures showed businesses notified the government in August they planned to axe 58,000 posts.

Although the numbers, released to the BBC under FOI rules, are lower than June and July they take the total since the start of the pandemic to nearly 500,000. 

Mr Sunak warned in his ‘virtual’ speech to Conservative members yesterday that ‘hard choices’ on tax rises and spending cuts will be needed. 

After using his Tory conference speech to warn hikes will be needed, Rishi Sunak told Sky News today his 'focus at the moment' was on propping up the economy and the books would only be balanced 'over time'

After using his Tory conference speech to warn hikes will be needed, Rishi Sunak told Sky News today his ‘focus at the moment’ was on propping up the economy and the books would only be balanced ‘over time’

Public sector borrowing has been soaring this year compared to last year - with tax revenues slumping and the IFS saying £70billion has been spent tackling the coronavirus crisis

Public sector borrowing has been soaring this year compared to last year – with tax revenues slumping and the IFS saying £70billion has been spent tackling the coronavirus crisis

He said ‘over the medium term’ the government will need to ‘get our borrowing and debt back under control’.

‘This Conservative government will always balance the books,’ he said. 

There had been strong indications that the Chancellor intended to raise taxes in a Budget this Autumn, but that package was delayed as coronavirus cases surged again.

Speaking to Sky News this morning Mr Sunak said balancing the books would have to be achieved ‘over time’ and that his immediate priority was employment.

‘My overall focus at the moment is trying to protect as many jobs as possible. What is happening in our economy at the moment is significant and severe, many people are losing their jobs,’ he said.

‘So the focus of my intention in the short term is doing what we can to support as much employment as possible.

‘Over time we need to have sustainable public finances. That is important to me, it is important to the Government, but in the short term the best way to have long-term sustainable public finances is to protect as much employment as possible.’

The BBC obtained figures on planned redundancies from the Insolvency Service, which has to be notified by businesses intending to make lay offs.

The worst hit sectors from the crisis include retail and hospitality as some commercial giants announced huge redundancy plans including Debenhams, Marks & Spencer and WH Smith.

More recently, fashion giant H&M announced its plan to shut 250 stores worldwide last week, while Burger King prepares to axe 1,600 UK staff.

The world’s second largest clothing retailer said around a quarter of its 5,000 stores are able to renegotiate or exit contracts next year, allowing it to close some stores.

H&M is not yet disclosing details on the number of job losses or store closures in the UK that are expected to take place as a result of the plan.

It follows TSB announcing yesterday that it will cut around 900 jobs as part of plans to close 164 of its high street bank branches.

The Edinburgh-based bank said it expects most of the redundancies to be voluntary but did not rule out forcing staff out. 

A government spokesman told the BBC: ‘Supporting jobs is an absolute priority, which is why we have set out our plan for jobs to protect, create and support jobs across the UK.

‘We are helping employees get back to work through a £1,000 retention bonus, creating new roles for young people with our £2billion Kickstart scheme and doubling the number of frontline work coaches.’

The government is struggling to revive the economy after lockdown plunged it into recession

The government is struggling to revive the economy after lockdown plunged it into recession

Mr Sunak has dismissed calls from Labour to extend the massive furlough scheme, which closes at the end of the month.

Instead he announced last month that it will be replaced with the Job Support Scheme.

That will mean the government subsidising workers so they can pick up 77 per cent of their usual wages for doing as little as a third of regular hours.

Under the new system employees’ wages receive a maximum subsidy of 22 per cent from the Treasury, depending on how many hours they work.

But firms must pick up the additional 55 per cent, compared to 20 per cent under furlough.

It has sparked fears that many businesses will simply lay staff off instead of taking it up.

Employers are obliged to notify government when they plan to make 20 or more staff redundant in any single ‘establishment’ using an HR1 Advance Notice of Redundancy form. However, they often make fewer positions redundant than the number they initially notify. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Danish murderer who killed journalist on submarine ‘escapes prison’

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danish murderer who killed journalist on submarine escapes prison

The Danish murderer who killed a journalist on his submarine was apprehended after trying to escape from prison today, local media says. 

Peter Madsen threatened guards by claiming he was carrying a bomb during his escape attempt this morning.   

He was later seen sitting upright by a roadside surrounded by a massive police presence a few hundred yards from the prison in Albertslund.  

Snipers had their guns trained on Madsen during the stand-off on the cordoned-off street while police negotiators arrived to speak to the 49-year-old killer.  

Peter Madsen sits by a roadside surrounded by a massive police presence a few hundred yards from the prison he tried to escape from in Denmark today

Peter Madsen sits by a roadside surrounded by a massive police presence a few hundred yards from the prison he tried to escape from in Denmark today 

Peter Madsen

Kim Wall

Danish inventor Peter Madsen (left) was jailed in 2018 for the gory murder of journalist Kim Wall (right) on his submarine in a Copenhagen harbour 

Danish armed guards on the scene today after Peter Madsen dramatically tried to escape from his life sentence for the 2017 submarine murder

Danish armed guards on the scene today after Peter Madsen dramatically tried to escape from his life sentence for the 2017 submarine murder 

Police confirmed that a man had been stopped after attempting to escape’ without giving Madsen’s name. 

According to Denmark’s Ekstra Bladet, Madsen has previously been kept in isolation because guards suspected he would try to escape.  

Madsen was sentenced to life in prison in 2018 for the gory murder of journalist Kim Wall who was sexually assaulted and dismembered in a Copenhagen harbour. 

Wall’s mutilated body was found in August 2017 after she boarded his home-made sub to research a piece on the eccentric inventor. 

Madsen changed his version of events several times, eventually arguing that Wall had been suffocated by an accidental gas leak. 

But forensic tests found that she had either been strangled or had her throat cut – and that around the time of her death, Madsen had stabbed her in her breasts and genitals with a knife or screwdriver.

A police prosecutor said images of women being strangled and decapitated, ‘which we presumed to be real’, had been found on Madsen’s computer in a laboratory. 

More to follow.  

The home-made submarine 'UC3 Nautilus', which was built by Danish inventor Peter Madsen and is where he killed Kim Wall in 2017

The home-made submarine ‘UC3 Nautilus’, which was built by Danish inventor Peter Madsen and is where he killed Kim Wall in 2017 

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Competition watchdog boss threatens action against Google and Facebook

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competition watchdog boss threatens action against google and facebook

The boss of Britain’s competition watchdog has threatened action against Google and Facebook to break their monopoly on online advertising if the Government does not set up a digital regulator to curb their powers within a year.

Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the Competition and Markets Authority, said ministers needed to urgently set up a regulatory regime to counter big tech’s monopoly on the search and digital ad markets or it would act alone.

Google and Facebook took 80% of the UK’s £14bn digital advertising market last year, the CMA revealed, thanks to their ‘unassailable incumbency advantage’ and use of shadowy algorithms to drive internet traffic.

Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the Competition and Markets Authority, said ministers needed to urgently set up a regulatory regime to counter big tech's monopoly on the search and digital ad markets or it would act alone

Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the Competition and Markets Authority, said ministers needed to urgently set up a regulatory regime to counter big tech’s monopoly on the search and digital ad markets or it would act alone

Dr Coscelli told the Financial Times: ‘Plan A is to have a regulatory framework. If [within a year] there is little action because of Covid-19 and Brexit then we would certainly do something ourselves directly — that is plan B.’

He said the CMA could launch multiple intensive investigations into big tech, and could also mount and antitrust legal case in parallel with the EU.

Christian Ahlborn, competition partner at Linklaters, said Government action to change the laws regulating online advertising would be more effective than the CMA acting independently.

It comes amid a wider campaign against big tech in the UK, Europe and America to reduce the damage they cause to other digital companies, including struggling local newspapers who are being starved of much-needed ad revenue.

Last week, Dr Coscelli revealed he was recruiting teams of high-powered mathematicians and psychologists to crack the mysterious algorithms Google and Facebook deploy to drive internet traffic.

Meanwhile, pressure is growing at Westminster for the companies to pay a fair rate to news outlets when they use their material – possibly through a new ‘tech levy’ – and in particular to struggling local media companies which have been hit hardest by Covid-19.

Plans for a code of conduct for tech companies to ensure content producers are properly rewarded were first suggested last year in a report for the Treasury by Jason Furman, President Obama’s former chief economist.

There is also an ongoing debate in Government over how to regulate the increasingly powerful internet giants.

Facebook and Google took 80% of the UK's £14bn digital advertising market last year, the CMA revealed

Facebook and Google took 80% of the UK’s £14bn digital advertising market last year, the CMA revealed

The Home Office is drafting new laws to punish social media companies over harmful material which it allows to be published such as suicide footage or jihadi videos.

However, it is facing growing criticism over its failure to devise an effective ‘publishers’ exemption’ to stop it leading to the backdoor censorship of mainstream news outlets.

Earlier this year, the CMA published the results of a year-long investigation into the tech giants’ dominance of digital advertising markets, recommending mandatory codes of conduct to ensure news publishers are adequately rewarded.

In 2019, Google and Facebook accounted for an estimated two-thirds of the £13 billion digital advertising market in the UK, with the business driven by opaque algorithms which are a mystery even to the advertisers.

Google, for instance, can tweak its search algorithms at will to reduce traffic to websites it doesn’t favour.

In a speech last week to New York’s Fordham University, Dr Coscelli said that the dominance of the online platforms was a serious threat to rival businesses and innovators.

He said that ‘large multinational online platforms such as Google and Facebook now have a central role in the digital advertising ecosystem and have developed such unassailable market positions that rivals can no longer compete on equal terms’.

And he added that their ‘large user base’ was a ‘source of market power, leading to weak competition in search and social media’.

Google can tweak its search algorithms at will to reduce traffic to websites it doesn't favour.

Google can tweak its search algorithms at will to reduce traffic to websites it doesn’t favour.

Calling for a new regulatory regime, Dr Coscelli said that ‘the largest platforms are increasingly acting as a brake on innovation, setting the terms of competition in a way that tips the balance in their own favour, and undermining the business models of new entrants and potential challengers alike’.

He called for a special ‘Digital Markets Unit’ to be established, with the ability to enforce a code of conduct on the internet giants to ensure that they ‘do not engage in exploitative or exclusionary practices’.

Dr Coscelli also called on Google to reveal its search engine algorithms to rival search engines ‘so they can properly compete’.

As part of the CMA’s drive, Dr Coscelli is hiring staff with PhDs in applied mathematics or physics, as well as trained psychologists, effectively emulating Winston Churchill’s drive during the Second World War to recruit code-breaking experts to Bletchley Park.

He added that the new recruits were ‘scrutinising how digital businesses use algorithms and how this could negatively impact competition and consumers… we believe it is not acceptable for firms not to be able to explain the outputs of their algorithms’. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Youtuber, 30, dies from rare cancer after Covid lockdown stopped him seeing GP or physio

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youtuber 30 dies from rare cancer after covid lockdown stopped him seeing gp or physio

A popular Youtuber died from a rare form of cancer after the Covid-19 pandemic stopped him from seeing a physiotherapist who could have helped diagnose it.

Fit and healthy David Macmillan, better known on YouTube as Pirate Dog, started feeling a slight ache in his shoulder as early as January, but put it down to an arm wrestle he’d shared with his father.

When the pain persisted, the 30-year-old tried to see his doctor, but was unable to get an appointment, instead a nurse prescribed painkillers and referred him to a physiotherapist.  

But the school kitchen worker, who had 250,000 subscribers on YouTube, never got an appointment, as the country was plunged into lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He was later diagnosed with rare mediastinal germ cell cancer, and died this month.

His mother, Dianne Whinn, said: ‘I just think if someone had physically examined him we might have found out something sooner.’

David Macmillan, 30, died from a rare form of cancer after the Covid-19 pandemic delayed his chance to see a physiotherapist, his mother Dianne Whinn (pictured together), thinks he could have had been diagnosed earlier, if not for delays brought on by lockdown

David Macmillan, 30, died from a rare form of cancer after the Covid-19 pandemic delayed his chance to see a physiotherapist, his mother Dianne Whinn (pictured together), thinks he could have had been diagnosed earlier, if not for delays brought on by lockdown

Mr Macmillan began noticing a soreness in his shoulder after returning home after spending New Year’s Eve in Scotland. 

His mother urged him to see a doctor at the end of February, after the pain persisted. 

Unable to get a GP’s appointment, Mr Macmillan was seen by a nurse, who advised him to take paracetamol and Ibuprofen and referred him for physiotherapy. 

‘That was the middle of March,’ his mother explained. 

‘We were waiting for his physio appointment and by the middle of April nothing had happened.’

By Easter, Scottish-born Mr Macmillan had lost two stone, and his mother said he was out of breath just from walking to his nearby shops.  

Doctors gave David, better known on YouTube as Pirate Dog, an 89 per cent chance of surviving the rare form of cancer he had likely had since birth, but he died just four months after starting treatment

Doctors gave David, better known on YouTube as Pirate Dog, an 89 per cent chance of surviving the rare form of cancer he had likely had since birth, but he died just four months after starting treatment

Ms Whinn said: ‘Then suddenly everything fell into place for me. My first thought was it could be pneumonia. 

‘Covid wasn’t even in the mix for me because this had been going on for so long.’

After insisting he saw his GP the following day, Mr Macmillan was sent to Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington, where a tumour was discovered in his chest.

It was diagnosed as a cancerous germ cell tumour in his chest, with doctors optimistically predicting he had an 89 per cent survival rate. 

Doctors are not certain about how germ cell tumours in the abdomen form, but it is thought the cancer develops from very early cells that became misplaced during development in the womb.

David Macmillan's YouTube channel, Pirate Dog, boasted 250,000 subscribers, he would leave an emotional message thanking them after he received his diagnosis, telling them the channel was bigger than he 'ever dreamed'

David Macmillan’s YouTube channel, Pirate Dog, boasted 250,000 subscribers, he would leave an emotional message thanking them after he received his diagnosis, telling them the channel was bigger than he ‘ever dreamed’

The kitchen worker at Morpeth First School underwent chemotherapy, but doctors decided this month there was nothing more they could do.

Mr Macmillan was was put on a ventilator to help him breathe at the end of September, but he died in his mother’s arms on October 8.  

David was placed on a ventilator at the end of September, but died on October 8

David was placed on a ventilator at the end of September, but died on October 8

Ms Whinn, a trained nurse, said: ‘It’s quite possible he’s had it all his life, but because he was so fit and healthy it was a silent killer. I just think if someone had physically examined him we might have found out something sooner.  

‘Throughout this whole thing he was so positive.

‘He said he was going to fight all the way. He said he was going to get better, and he was going to go back to work.’

As the treatment began to take its toll, Mr Macmillan he told his YouTube subscribers why he had not been uploading many videos recently.

In a post on his channel, he wrote: ‘My health has took a turn for the worse. I’ve had a lot of muscular pain in my chest and back which I recently found out to be a tumour in my chest. 

‘I am currently in hospital under going chemotherapy surrounded by amazing health workers who I cannot thank enough and hopefully I will beat this in the coming months. 

‘Thank you to all my subscribers for making this channel bigger than I ever dreamed. I hope to be back.’  

Ms Whinn pleaded with young men to take their health seriously, adding: ‘If you have got any concerns doctors would rather see you and say you are fine than miss something.

‘Young men often think they are invincible.’

Mr Macmillan’s death comes as researchers warn lockdown’s toll on cancer patients will be felt for years.

If a tumour is spotted early, it can often be dealt with quickly. But if it spreads there is often nothing a doctor can do.

The suspension of cancer screenings during lockdown is likely to lead to a surge of cases caught too late.

NHS Digital estimates there were 26.7million fewer GP appointments in England between March and August this year than in the same period in 2019 – down from 146.2million to 119.5million

NHS Digital estimates there were 26.7million fewer GP appointments in England between March and August this year than in the same period in 2019 – down from 146.2million to 119.5million

GP appointments also plummeted and between April and August urgent cancer referrals fell by 350,000 in England, according to Cancer Research UK.

Treatment was also put on hold – with chemotherapy procedures falling by between 45 per cent and 66 per cent in April alone.

Academics at UCL calculated that within a year 6,270 extra Britons will have died of cancer in England owing to the pandemic. Hospitals are bracing themselves for a leap in cancer referrals which could add to the impact of a second wave. 

Doctors trying to learn more about rare mediastinal germ cancer 

According to Cancer Research UK, doctors are still trying to understand how germ cell cancer develops.

It’s understood that germ cells – which develop into sperm and eggs – can grow tumours, meaning the majority of cancer diagnoses are in the testicles or ovaries.

Mediastinal germ cell tumours are found in the centre of the chest, but doctors are not sure how the growths occur there.

According to Cancer Research UK, there are two theories surrounding the disease, these are: 

  • The cancer develops from very early cells that became misplaced during our development in the womb.
  • The cancer started in the testicle or ovary and spread at a very early stage, but the original cancer has either disappeared or is too small to find.

Symptoms of a cancerous mediastinal tumour have symptoms might include:

  • Shortness of breath 
  • Pain in the chest 
  • A cough 
  • Raised temperature 
  • Weight loss 
  • Night sweats 
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