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Heathrow says airport travel chaos is easing

Holidaymakers suffered delays and cancellations along with lengthy queues as airports struggled with baggage handling, air traffic control and security…reports Asian Lite News

Heathrow airport has insisted that the recent travel chaos is beginning to ease after telling airlines to cut their flight programmes to tackle delays and cancellations.

The group’s Chief Executive, John Holland-Kaye, said passengers have been seeing “better, more reliable journeys” since the cap on departing flights was enforced.

Heathrow and Gatwick ordered airlines to slash their flight schedules following chaotic scenes as staff shortages left them struggling to cope with the sudden ramping up of demand for overseas holidays.

Holidaymakers suffered delays and cancellations along with lengthy queues as airports struggled with baggage handling, air traffic control and security.

But Heathrow said the cap has “delivered improvements to passenger experience, with fewer last-minute flight cancellations, better aircraft punctuality and baggage delivery”.

Holland-Kaye added: “Passengers are seeing better, more reliable journeys since the introduction of the demand cap. I want to thank all my colleagues across the airport for their amazing work in getting people away on their holidays.”

Heathrow did not give details on when the cap might be lifted, but said a boosting of airline ground handler operations would be a key factor, “and we have initiated a review of ground handling to support that objective”.

The group is likely to face a barrage of compensation claims from affected holiday firms and airlines, many of which have laid the blame for disruption squarely at the feet of the airports.

Tui on Wednesday revealed it is seeking to recoup a “significant” sum from the airports it flies from after taking a 75-million euro ($77.45-million) cost hit due to the recent travel woes.

Heathrow said security staffing is back at pre-pandemic levels and 88 per cent of passengers have been able to clear security within 20 minutes or less.

The group’s latest passenger statistics revealed it saw 318 per cent more people, a total of 6.3 million, pass through its terminals in July.

It said a further 16 million are expected to travel through Heathrow between July and September as travel demand ramps up.

ALSO READ: India, UK complete 5th round of FTA talks

UK News

Polio booster vax for children under 10

The National Health Service aims to complete the rollout of the booster dose within the next four to six weeks in Barnet, Brent, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington, Waltham Forest..reports Asian Lite News

Health officials are set to offer a targeted inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) booster dose to all children between the ages of 1 and 9 years to limit the spread of the virus’ outbreak in London.

This followed the discovery of Type 2 vaccine-derived poliovirus in sewage in north and east London.

According to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), 116 samples of vaccine-like poliovirus have been detected in the sewage water in London between February and July 2022.

While most are vaccine-like virus, only a few have sufficient mutations to be classified as vaccine derived poliovirus (VDPV2). But the VDPV2, like “wild” polio, is capable of causing paralysis in unvaccinated individuals, the UKHSA said.

The National Health Service aims to complete the rollout of the booster dose within the next four to six weeks in Barnet, Brent, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington, Waltham Forest – the areas in London where the poliovirus is being transmitted.

“These have some of the lowest vaccination rates, which is why the virus is spreading in these communities and puts those residents not fully vaccinated at greater risk,” said Dr Vanessa Saliba, Consultant Epidemiologist at UKHSA, in a statement.

But so far, “no cases of polio have been reported and for the majority of the population, who are fully vaccinated, the risk is low,” Saliba said.

Polio shots are given in routine National Health Service (NHS) childhood vaccinations at eight, 12 and 16 weeks as part of the 6-in-1 vaccine. Boosters are offered at the age of three and 14.

“While the majority of Londoners are protected from polio, the NHS will shortly be contacting parents of eligible children aged one to nine years old, to offer them a top-up dose to ensure they have maximum protection from the virus,” said Jane Clegg, chief nurse for the NHS in London.

A viral disease that can affect the nervous system and cause muscle weakness, the polio virus typically enters the body through the mouth, usually from hands contaminated with faecal matter of an infected person. Respiratory and oral-to-oral transmission through saliva may also occur.

Polio is very contagious, and a person can spread the virus even if they are not sick. Symptoms, which can be mild and flu-like (fatigue, fever, headache, stiffness, muscle pain, vomiting), can take up to 30 days to appear, during which, an infected individual can be shedding virus to others. Though rare, some polio cases can result in paralysis or death.

The last case of wild polio contracted in the UK was confirmed in 1984 and the UK was declared free of the virus in 2003. Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only two countries in the world where the infection is still classified as endemic.

ALSO READ: India, UK complete 5th round of FTA talks

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Surge in human-trafficking referrals in UK

From April to June this year, 4,171 cases were reported to the NRM, which was established in 2009…reports Asian Lite News

Britain has recorded its highest-ever number of human-trafficking referrals, with figures surging by a third over the past year, The Guardian reported.

About 90 percent of the referrals — which allow civil servants to report suspected trafficking crimes through the National Referral Mechanism — are believed to focus on the alleged victims of people smugglers.

From April to June this year, 4,171 cases were reported to the NRM, which was established in 2009. About half of the cases involved people being exploited in the UK. Of that figure, more than 1,000 cases involved people who refused to take any further action, including many who are alleged victims of labor and sexual exploitation.

The three biggest groups by nationality represented in the figures were Albanians, Britons and Eritreans, respectively.

The UK Home Office has set its sights on Albanian people smugglers as a key target. Offenders as well as asylum seekers were recently sent back to Albania on a deportation flight.

But campaigners and charities have warned that the NRM fails to offer adequate support for the victims of trafficking.

“We are worried to see a rise in recorded modern slavery cases at a time when the circumstances of so many survivors seems uncertain,” said Maya Esslemont of After Exploitation, which examines government data to monitor trafficking trends.

“Since the Nationality and Borders Act was brought into force, survivors no longer have a guarantee of support even if they are recognized as trafficking survivors by the Home Office’s own decision-makers.

“Today’s figures show just how urgently this government needs to step up and address the long-term challenges facing each of the victims recognized as an NRM statistic.”

Iryna Pona, policy and impact manager at The Children’s Society, said: “The record numbers of referrals show what huge problems modern slavery and exploitation are for all children, whether they are British or migrant children trafficked to the UK.

“More than a third are suspected to have been groomed and coerced — usually with terrifying threats — to commit crime, which can include carrying drugs … while scores more are believed to be victims of sexual exploitation.

“Children who are forcibly trafficked here from abroad — or offered an escape from war or persecution by being sold a dream of a new life of hope — are also often made to work in places like cannabis farms, car washes and nail bars, or forced to beg.”

ALSO READ: India, UK complete 5th round of FTA talks

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India, Britain trade may double by 2030

Through primary research, the report identifies 618 UK companies in India and how they are growing and contributing to the economy and job creation…reports Asian Lite News

Bilateral trade between India and the United Kingdom (UK) is likely to double by 2030 from the current level helped by greater economic engagements between the two countries, diversification of global supply chains, and overall ease of doing business, as per an industry report released on Thursday.

As India and the UK collaborate for economic growth against a backdrop of global disruptions, Grant Thornton Bharat launched the second edition of the Britain Meets India (BMI) Report 2022, in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), supported by the UK’s Department of International Trade (DIT).

Through primary research, the report identifies 618 UK companies in India and how they are growing and contributing to the economy and job creation.

According to the report, 618 UK companies have been identified in India that together employ approximately 4.66 lakh people and have a combined turnover of ₹ 3,634.9 billion. 58 of these 618 companies featured in the report’s Growth Tracker (companies with turnover greater than ₹ 500 million and 10 per cent year-on-year growth) – these fast-growing UK companies achieved an average growth of 36.3 per cent, which is a 10 per cent jump from 2021 where fast-growing UK companies clocked an average growth rate of 26 per cent.

The report was launched by Alex Ellis CMG, High Commissioner of UK to India, Chandrajit Banerjee, DG – CII, Vishesh C Chandiok, CEO, Grant Thornton Bharat and Pallavi Joshi Bakhru, Partner and India-UK Corridor Leader, Grant Thornton Bharat in New Delhi in the presence of over 50 dignitaries, industry and government representatives from the UK and India.

Speaking at the event, Alexander Ellis CMG said “India has been one of the UK’s most important partners in the journey of 75 years. The ‘living bridge’ between our countries is set to transform into a stronger bond as we continue to fight the pandemic together and address the challenges to our security in both the physical and digital worlds. Our shared focus will be on strengthening the economic relationship between the two nations for a more secure and prosperous decade ahead.”

“The report has highlighted several new emerging sectors and I hope we will derive qualitative outcomes that nurture opportunities for companies in India and the UK. We continue to work closely with the governments and businesses on both sides and leverage the strengths of UK companies to deepen our trade relationship,” said CII Director General Chandrajit Banerjee.

“Trade between India and the UK is expected to double by 2030 from current levels – based on dynamic connections between people of both countries, investment in technology, diversification of global supply chains and overall ease of doing business,” said Vishesh C Chandiok, CEO, Grant Thornton Bharat.

“Grant Thornton firms in India and the UK have been helping companies in the corridor grow and expand for over three decades – we are now at a juncture where we have an opportunity for real change in the narrative. India can not only provide a growth platform for UK companies but can also help them become more competitive globally,” Chandiok said.

Push to finalise free trade pact by Diwali

India and the UK are intent on sticking to a Diwali deadline for finalising a comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA) amid the ongoing political developments in Britain, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

Despite some questions raised by the leadership race in Britain’s ruling Conservative Party, the people made it clear both sides aim to have a deal stitched up and ready for signing by the leadership of the two countries by the last week of October. The UK is expected to have a new prime minister next month, giving enough time for the deal to be cleared on the British side.

“The two partners are targeting to conclude negotiations by the end of August or early September. After approvals of the respective governments, the agreement on most of tariff lines will be ready to be signed,” an Indian official said, declining to be named.

“Both the UK and India have been clear that we are working towards a comprehensive free trade agreement – neither nation is considering an interim agreement,” a person familiar with the negotiations said on condition of anonymity.

A spokesperson for the British high commission said: “We are making good progress toward our shared target to conclude the majority of talks on a comprehensive deal by Diwali. We remain clear that we won’t sacrifice quality for speed and will only sign a deal which delivers for the UK.”

An FTA with India “offers the opportunity to deepen our already strong relationship, which was worth £24.3 billion in 2021”, the spokesperson said.

The Indian official cited above said: “The political developments in the UK are unlikely to derail the talks.” On July 21, commerce secretary BVR Subrahmanyam said that irrespective of the party in power in the UK, the “logic of an FTA with India is irreversible”.

ALSO READ: ‘UK-UAE ties important for the world’

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UK Economy contracts in Q2

It is a big step down from the first quarter of the year, when GDP rose 0.8 per cent…reports Asian Lite News

The economy contracted in the last three months, further stoking fears that a recession might be around the corner, new data revealed on Friday.

The gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 0.1 per cent during the second quarter, dpa news agency quoted the Office for National Statistics (ONS) as saying.

It is a big step down from the first quarter of the year, when GDP rose 0.8 per cent.

The service sector was particularly badly hit, falling by 0.4 per cent over the quarter, ONS experts said.

A large part of this was in health and social work, and came as less money was spent on the fight against Covid-19.

The GDP fell 0.6 per cent in June, and the ONS revised its May estimate from growth of 0.5 per cent to just 0.4 per cent.

ONS director of economic statistics Darren Morgan said: “With May’s growth revised down a little and June showing a notable fall, overall the economy shrank slightly in the second quarter.

“Health was the biggest reason the economy contracted as both the test and trace and vaccine programmes were wound down, while many retailers also had a tough quarter. These were partially offset by growth in hotels, bars, hairdressers and outdoor events across the quarter, partly as a result of people celebrating the Platinum Jubilee.”

The Bank of England has warned that Britain might enter recession later this year.

ALSO READ: ‘UK-UAE ties important for the world’

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UK Energy bills to soar above £5,000

The energy price cap, which governs gas and electricity bills for the vast majority of UK households, has already jumped to £1,971 from £1,277 this year. Earlier this week, another forecast suggested it would hit £4,420 next April…reports Asian Lite News

British households face average annual energy bills surging above £5,000 next year, according to the latest forecast, heaping further pressure on the government to intervene to ease the spiralling cost of living crisis.

The warning from consultancy Auxilione follows a steep rise in wholesale British gas prices this week and came as electricity generators met with ministers in Downing Street on Thursday to discuss a response to the impact of rising wholesale energy prices driven primarily by Russia’s squeeze on gas supplies to Europe.

After the meeting, outgoing prime minister Boris Johnson said the government would “keep urging the electricity sector to continue working on ways we can ease the cost of living pressure and to invest further and faster in British energy security”.

But the government has faced accusations of failing to act quickly enough with no decisions expected until the Tory party leadership race appoints either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak prime minister next month. No concrete proposals emerged from the meeting on Thursday.

One industry figure who attended insisted there was “no complacency” among participants but acknowledged that proposals to help mitigate the crisis needed to now “be worked up with a sense of urgency”.

The prospect of a windfall tax on electricity generators, some of whom have enjoyed bumper profits from renewables and nuclear generation, has resurfaced this week.

“RWE, the German company that generates about 15 per cent of the UK’s electricity, warned however that any government action must be “appropriate and proportionate.” It has previously warned its planned £15bn investment in UK renewables could be under threat.

“Any insufficiently considered intervention when the energy sector is at a critical juncture — could be counter-productive and carries risks of unintended consequences,” RWE said in a statement following the meeting.

Others have called for more radical solutions as the UK faces the prospect of a deep recession. Former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown has suggested the government may need to eventually nationalise parts of the sector if they cannot lower prices.

Dale Vince, the founder of Ecotricity, a green energy generator and retailer, who was not at the meeting, said the government needed a “proper windfall tax” and to “ideally find £40bn, one-tenth of the pandemic funding, to get the country through the winter energy crisis”.

Vince also suggested the government should “impose a price cap on North Sea gas and oil” producers.

The energy price cap, which governs gas and electricity bills for the vast majority of UK households, has already jumped to £1,971 from £1,277 this year. Earlier this week, another forecast suggested it would hit £4,420 next April.

Auxilione said it expected regulator Ofgem to set the price cap at “just over £3,600” when it announces the results of its next review, now held every three months, on August 26. That rise would take effect in October before the cap was expected to exceed £5,000 in the first half of 2023, the consultancy added.

The Auxilione forecast follows warnings of a severe drought affecting shipments of coal and other commodities on the river Rhine in Germany, a key artery for supplying power stations. Norway has also signalled it will restrict electricity exports.

Business and energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng — who is widely tipped to be the next chancellor if leadership frontrunner Liz Truss becomes prime minister — is looking at options to decouple electricity prices unassociated with gas generation.

Kwarteng was also at the meeting along with chancellor Nadhim Zahawi and companies including RWE, EDF, Centrica, Drax and ScottishPower.

Former chancellor Rishi Sunak, who is running against Truss, has accused his rival of being slow to appreciate how worried households are about the prospect of soaring bills. He has promised to expand a £15bn support package he announced in May when bills were forecast to reach about £2,800 in October.

Truss has said she favours tax cuts over “handouts” but has left open the door to additional support.

Auxilione said there appeared to be “little appreciation” in government “for just how impossible” it would be to lower prices. “Energy companies and the government have little control over this in such a globally influenced market,” it added.

Ofgem has cautioned about forecasts for the price cap given the volatility in energy prices.

ALSO READ: ‘UK-UAE ties important for the world’

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‘UK-UAE ties important for the world’

Both leaders have exchanged views on the international repercussions resulting from the Ukraine crisis, especially with regard to energy and food security, reports Asian Lite Newsdesk

UK-UAE cooperation on global priorities including Ukraine, regional stability and climate change is hugely important for the world, the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan during a phone conversation.

The leaders tackled a number of regional and global issues of mutual interest. They agreed that great strides have been made in the UK-UAE relationship in recent years, 10 Downing Street said in a statement.

They have exchanged views on the international repercussions resulting from the Ukraine crisis, especially with regard to energy and food security, stressing the significance of working to develop the foundations of peace and stability at the regional and global levels.

During the call, Johnson praised the President Mohamed bin Zayed success in bringing prosperity to both the UAE and the Gulf more generally. President MBZ paid tribute to the role the Prime Minister Johnson has played in driving trade and investment between both countries, the statement added.

The Prime Minister said UK-UAE cooperation on global priorities including Ukraine, regional stability and climate change is hugely important for the world. He expressed his confidence that this cooperation will continue in the years ahead.

UAE, UK ink deal for cultural cooperation

Meanwhile on Wednesday, Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI), the UAE Federal export credit company, and UK Export Finance (UKEF) announced that they have jointly supported a major project in the Republic of Senegal to strengthen its national emergency response infrastructure.

This national emergency response project, called the Redco Project Senegal, will see the supply and building up of emergency services from fire fighting vehicles, airport firefighting and rescue vehicles, ambulances and medical vehicles, rescue boats, water trailers, cranes with cargo trucks and other safety equipment in Senegal.

The project, worth AED540 million, is funded by Standard Chartered Bank along with partial direct lending by the UKEF and is backed by the ECI and UKEF under a reinsurance arrangement with the ECI’s participation worth AED334 million.

Etihad Credit Insurance, in partnership with the UKEF, has provided guarantees for the loan obtained by the Senegal Ministry of Economy, Planning and Cooperation.

The emergency services equipment will be provided by NAFFCO, a UAE-based manufacturer and exporter of firefighting products and fire protection engineering.

This trade finance support is in line with Etihad Credit Insurance’s goals to boost the exports of Made in the UAE products and services as part of the “Operation 300bn” strategy, which aims to develop the UAE’s industrial sector and enhance its role in stimulating the national economy.

Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade and Deputy Chairman of ECI’s Board of Directors, said, “The long-standing bilateral relationship between the UAE and the United Kingdom (UK) is built on the shared vision of both countries to promote sustainable development and economic prosperity across the globe. The UAE has been keen on engaging in such remarkable projects that can transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

This new agreement between our export credit agencies is part of the UAE’s relentless commitment to advance key segments such as emergency services, healthcare, environment, and technology. This collaboration is based on an effective public-private partnership framework that will also bring about substantial investment opportunities for the UAE companies around sustainability, which is becoming the norm for the next generation developmental strategies.”

Meanwhile, Mike Freer, UK Minister for Exports, said, “The UK can provide a leading role when it comes to exporting fire safety equipment. This deal demonstrates how British ingenuity coupled with the UAE’s proactiveness can better protect communities abroad and shows how joint government initiatives can help businesses export their best-in-class equipment and services.”

The Federal Export Credit Company’s trade finance support is a response to the UAE’s Africa initiative and Senegal’s call for aid to enhance and strengthen its firefighting and emergency response capabilities.

Recently, the UAE sent an aircraft with emergency medical supplies to Senegal to mitigate the damage after the neonatal department at the Mame Abdou Aziz Sy Dabakh Hospital in the city of Tifwani, north of the capital Dakar, caught on fire, killing 11 new-borns.

“Our collaboration with the British export credit agency, UKEF, to support the emergency service sector in Senegal signifies the UAE’s strategic vision and leadership mission for sustainable development in the world.,” said Sir Massimo Falcioni, CEO of Etihad Credit Insurance.

Louis Taylor, CEO of UK Export Finance, said, “Senegal is a unique market for UK exporters to tap into. I have seen how the UK and Senegal can work together to unlock projects in the country with our financing and open new trade routes for UK companies. We are grateful to the UAE federal export credit company for their support for this project that will pave the way for similar collaborations benefitting the exporters of both countries.”

ALSO READ: ‘Culture key driver of UAE’s socio-economic growth’

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Olympic champion Eve Muirhead announces retirement 

Muirhead competed in four Winter Olympic competitions, and also won bronze at the Sochi 2014 Games…reports Asian Lite News

Olympic curling champion Eve Muirhead on Thursday announced her retirement from the sport, calling it “the hardest decision of my life”.

The Scot was the skipper of the Great Britain women’s team who claimed the gold medal at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing in February. The 32-year-old Muirhead, who is reigning Winter Olympic, world, and European champion, revealed her decision on social media.

“After 15 years of international curling and 21 international titles I have made the hardest decision of my life to hang up my curling shoes and retire,” Muirhead said in a statement on Twitter.

Muirhead competed in four Winter Olympic competitions, and also won bronze at the Sochi 2014 Games.

She won her first world title in 2013, is a three-time European women’s team champion, claimed European mixed team gold too, and “completed the set” with her fourth major title by winning gold in the World Mixed Doubles Curling championships alongside Scottish teammate Bobby Lammie in April.

“Retiring from curling as a current European, World, and Olympic champion is something I’ve always dreamed of, and I am signing off with a huge smile on my face,” Muirhead further said.

“I always dreamed of winning all three and to do it all in one season was amazing. To bow out at this stage is definitely the right time.With regards to what’s next… I’m looking forward to exploring more opportunities and getting my golf clubs out… but watch this space,” she added.

ALSO READ- BCCI awarded Rs 4cr in cash to Tokyo Olympic medallists

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‘I would rather lose than give false promises’

In an interview with the BBC, the former Chancellor said he was committed to helping the most vulnerable families with the cost-of-living crisis and felt a “moral responsibility to go further” and provide “extra help” over the winter…reports Asian Lite News

Prime ministerial candidate Rishi Sunak has insisted that he would rather lose the Conservative Party leadership race to replace Boris Johnson than win on a false promise on how he plans to tackle the economic crisis.

In an interview with the BBC, the former Chancellor said he was committed to helping the most vulnerable families with the cost-of-living crisis and felt a “moral responsibility to go further” and provide “extra help” over the winter.

The issue has become the key dividing line between him and his rival, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who has pledged tax cuts which the former finance minister insists will benefit wealthier households rather than those who need it most.

Liz Truss celebrates the suspension of US tariffs. Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss in her office inside the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office talks with the Acting United States Trade Representative Maria Pagan as they celebrates the suspension of US tariffs on Scottish Whisky. Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street

“I would rather lose than win on a false promise,” Sunak, 42, said.

“What I’m determined to do is help people across this country through what will be a very difficult winter. My first preference is always not to take money off people in the first place,” he said.

As the candidates continue to be grilled by Conservative Party members who will be voting in the election in hustings up and down the UK, the issue of soaring inflation and prices has dominated the agenda.

“People can judge me on my record,” reiterated Sunak in his BBC interview on Wednesday night, referring to his work as Chancellor through the Covid lockdown.

“People can judge me on their record – when bills were going up by around 1,200 pounds earlier this year, I made sure the most vulnerable received around 1,200 pounds,” he pointed out.

Sunak also promised to “go further” than what he has already announced if elected Prime Minister.

“I know millions of people are worried about inflation, particularly the cost of their energy bills. What I’ve said if I’m Prime Minister I will go further in supporting those families who most need support because the situation is worse than when I announced those measures earlier this year,” he said.

When Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak get the keys to Number 10 in just under month, they will have to answer the question: what can the government do to help people struggling with rising bills as winter approaches?

At the moment, the candidates are trying to appeal to 160,000 or so Conservative members, who are choosing their next leader and our next prime minister.

But as the wider electorate watches on, what have the candidates actually promised on the cost of living? Will they be forced to set out more detail about what they are prepared to do? And what does Rishi Sunak’s record tell us about his plans?

She wants to immediately reverse the rise in National Insurance contributions and suspend green levies on energy bills.

Her allies say this will give people more money in their pockets.

But the foreign secretary faced pressure over the weekend when she said she wanted to help people by reducing the tax burden – and “not giving handouts”.

Not quite. Truss’s team say she is not ruling anything in or out. She will, they say, look at what is needed and what is possible in her emergency budget.

Team Sunak don’t think so.

He hasn’t pulled any punches in an article for The Sun newspaper, saying that Ms Truss’s plans (including a plan to cancel an increase in corporation tax) are “a big bung to large businesses and the well-off, leaving those who most need help out in the cold”. He writes that bolder action is needed.

So what is he planning in his first weeks as prime minister? He has said he will scrap VAT on energy bills. But beyond that, he hasn’t offered much in the way of specifics.

Sunak’s supporters say it will depend on what happens with energy bills in the coming days. They have said he can be trusted based on his record as chancellor.

But remember – Sunak often faced a lot of pressure to act before he took decisions to help those on the lowest incomes.

He was criticised after the Spring Statement earlier this year for not doing enough to help people with increasing prices. Many Tory MPs urged him to act – and within weeks he announced further new cost of living support.

Sunak initially resisted Labour’s calls for a Windfall Tax to help pay for help – before eventually agreeing to one.

He has also used furlough as an example of decisive action. But remember he was criticised for being too slow to extend it towards the end of 2020.

In fact, Sunak resisted extending the scheme at first.

And then there’s this campaign. Mr Sunak has been criticised for saying he’ll scrap VAT on energy bills – given that he didn’t do it when he was in the Treasury.

There are four weeks to go in this leadership contest. There will be pressure on both candidates to give more details on what they will do to help with rising bills – and to spell out how they’ll pay for it.

ALSO READ-UK summons Chinese envoy over Taiwan drills

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Britain drying under yet another heatwave

Guillaume came all the way from the South of France to escape the heat, expecting chilly winds and a milder summer, but was gravely disappointed…reports Asian Lite News

Another heatwave has engulfed Britain. Temperatures are expected to reach 35 degrees Celsius by Friday and Saturday, prompting an amber weather warning (the second-most severe after red) and a hosepipe ban in some areas.

The current heat wave is milder than the one in July, when temperatures hovered around 40 degrees Celsius, but a prolonged English summer with extreme heat and dryness is unprecedented in recent memory.

“I’ve never seen a summer like this before,” Ryan, a Whales resident, said while feeding the pigeons in Hyde Park.

Parks and Greek have suffered the most as water reserves have run dry. The stretches of green have turned brown, dry, and parched, making it an ideal breeding ground for wildfires.

However, measures such as the government’s hosepipe ban, which was implemented to limit water usage, can be counterproductive at times because they can cause fires. The emergency services are on standby.

Guillaume came all the way from the South of France to escape the heat, expecting chilly winds and a milder summer, but was gravely disappointed.

“I chose London because it’s usually chilly and milder than where I am from. So I usually use this [trip] to escape the heat wave, but not this time,” Guillaume said as he searched for a lawn chair in the shade in one of London’s parks.

While the warnings remain lower than those issued during last month’s record temperatures, the UKHSA’s Dr Agostinho Sousa emphasised it was important vulnerable people, like the elderly who live alone or anyone with underlying health conditions, were “prepared for coping during the hot weather”.

“The most important advice is to ensure they stay hydrated, keep cool and take steps to prevent their homes from overheating,” he added.

Disabled people could be particularly affected by heat, and may suffer fatigue, difficulty regulating their body temperatures, or problems moving to cooler spots in the home, Fazilet Hadi, from Disability Rights UK, said.

Meanwhile, a dairy farmer in Shropshire has said he might have to send some of his cows to slaughter if there is no rain in August as a result of the reduced amount of grass available.

According to the Met Office, temperatures are not set to be as extreme as those in July which smashed records when the mercury climbed to above 40 degrees Celsius in some areas in the UK for the first time.

The dry conditions, combined with last month’s record-breaking heatwave, have depleted rivers, reservoirs and aquifers and dried up soils, hitting agriculture, water supplies and wildlife and raising the risk of wildfires.

Meanwhile, there was no immediate sign of rain in the latest forecast from the Met Office.

Temperatures are likely to rise into the low to mid-30s in the next few days in the area covered by the Met Office amber warning.

Outside the warning area, heatwave thresholds, which are met at different temperatures in different parts of the country, are still likely to be met for much of the UK, with temperatures widely into the high 20s and a chance of a few spots seeing temperatures into the low 30s.

Scotland and Northern Ireland will also see temperatures into the high 20s and could reach official heatwave criteria by Friday.

The Met Office’s fire severity index, an assessment of how severe a fire could become if one were to start, is very high for most of England and Wales, and will reach “exceptional” for a swathe of England by the weekend.

ALSO READ-India, UK complete 5th round of FTA talks