Published:

Wage boost and tax cuts for workers hit by coronavirus…

“Boris Johnson is expected to reveal an unprecedented package of wage subsidies and tax cuts today after he pledged to “stand by the workers of this country”. Cuts to employers’ national insurance and the basic rate of income tax and a plan to subsidise people’s wages are being considered by the Treasury to help those who will “really suffer” in the economic shutdown. One source suggested that the government could in effect underwrite 60 per cent of the average national wage for each worker. The plan was described by an official as an “entirely new approach” that would present “significant technical challenges”. The package had been due to be announced next week but has been brought forward in the face of accusations by senior Conservative MPs that the government’s existing measures are “simply not going to be enough”.” – The Times

  • Chancellor to unveil wage bailout to help millions – Daily Telegraph
  • Sunak ‘could underwrite £17,000 of salary for every worker’ by waiving income tax or national insurance – Daily Mail
  • Bank of England cuts rates to 0.1% and launches £200bn bond-buying programme – FT
  • Calls for UK basic income payment to cushion coronavirus impact – The Guardian
  • Hancock ‘admits statutory sick pay is not enough to live on’ – Daily Express

More:

  • Queen urges country to be strong – The Times
  • Train services to be halved under revised timetables – FT
  • Tech firms lead fight to track virus spread – The Times

>Yesterday:

Jeremy Warner: Can Britain actually afford to do ‘whatever it takes’?

“Nonetheless, they reflect genuine concern about the economic costs of the lockdown now being imposed to flatten the curve of the virus’s progress. These are going to be considerable, not just to business, but to the public finances, still struggling to recover from the financial crisis of a decade ago. When the economy is force-stopped like this, the Government becomes the insurer of last resort, underwriting wages and lost revenues. The solvency of the state itself then gets questioned. The reawakening of let-rip deficit spending will require massive bond issuance at a time when virtually all governments are looking to tap debt markets to prop up distressed economies. There is a resulting scramble for investors’ money, when all investors really want is cash, not sovereign paper.” – Daily Telegraph

  • We need bolder action to save the economy – Ed Conway, The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Sunak needs a big, big, bigger bazooka

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The prospect seems remote. But is National Government on its way?

Raab reveals ‘massive’ operation has been launched to arrange aid flights for people stuck overseas

“Up to a million Britons are stranded abroad and facing extortionate air fares to get home, the Foreign Secretary said yesterday. Dominic Raab said there was a ‘massive’ operation under way to repatriate those wanting to return before borders closed and airlines stopped flying. He revealed he was in talks with commercial airlines about operating new routes they had never flown before and also with allies to take Britons back on their flights. Giving evidence to the foreign affairs select committee, Mr Raab said: ‘Getting hundreds of thousands home is a massive, epic challenge but I’m confident we are rising to it.’ He said he was working with countries such as Peru to make sure there was a ‘window of opportunity’ for British nationals to get out. But last night stranded Britons said flights being offered by commercial airlines were ‘unaffordable’.” – Daily Mail

  • You’d be better off staying abroad, Foreign Secretary tells stranded tourists – The Times

Food supply ‘starts to show strain’

“UK households started stockpiling in the final week of February, according to the data firm Nielsen. The surge – which could not be foreseen by algorithms used to set stock levels – has prompted supermarket chains to ration items and manufacturers and distributors to find ways to increase supply. Factories are moving to longer operating times and food producers cutting ranges to focus on volume. In the first week of March, sales of pasta, canned meat and tinned soups spiked in the UK by more than 60 per cent compared with the same week a year earlier. Other companies have reported rising purchases of ready meals, meat, fresh produce, and bread – a product that had suffered from weak demand in recent years.” – FT

  • Stores to feed UK by sharing staff and delivery vans – The Times
  • Asda launches scheme to help closed businesses and those out of work – Daily Express
  • Tearful nurse urges the public to stop panic buying food – Daily Mail

>Today: Amanda Milling MP in Comment: My message to Party activists. We can’t get busy seeking votes. But let’s do so helping neighbours.

Army of 65,000 retired nurses and doctors told ‘Your NHS Needs You’…

“An army of 65,000 retired nurses and doctors have been told “Your NHS Needs You” in the battle against coronavirus. Medical students and trainee nurses are also being invited to join the fight — while members of the public have been asked if they can help, too. Unions backed the call to arms to deal with what was being described as a “national emergency” and the “greatest global health threat” in a century. NHS trusts have been told to provide 30,000 critical care beds as the UK death toll rose by 40 to 144. Tired doctors joined a campaign to urge the public to stay at home while one dedicated team of intensive therapy staff in the front line posed in their protective kit.” – The Sun

  • Troops given four weeks to prepare for war on coronavirus – Daily Mail
  • Hancock: thousands of engineers answered call for ventilators – Daily Express
  • NHS Trust is ‘turning away COVID-19 patients’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Social care wins £3bn in move to free hospital beds – FT

More:

  • Total confirmed cases hit 3,269, with 144 deceased – Daily Telegraph
  • British cases surge by 2,000 in a week – Daily Mail
  • First British coronavirus victim begins groundbreaking trial of new treatment drug – The Sun
  • Deaths rising faster in UK than Italy – Daily Telegraph
  • Latest advice – HM Government

>Yesterday:

…as medics are given powers to arrest patients

“Doctors and nurses will be given powers to detain people infected with coronavirus, it has emerged. It comes as the Government today announced a package of emergency laws including bringing ex-NHS workers out of retirement. The health service hopes that as many as 65,000 retired medics will roll up their sleeves to help tackle the “greatest global health threat in history”. The new measures ensure they can come back to the health service without risking their pension pots… It comes as it emerged that other retired emergency service workers could also be called on to return to action. London mayor Sadiq Khan said work was under way in writing to recently retired police officers so they could return to work to do back-office functions.” – The Sun

  • Khan: We will infringe civil liberties if necessary to save lives – The Times
  • ‘Zero prospect’ of London lockdown involving movement limits, says No 10 – The Guardian
  • Police can force patients with coronavirus into six-week quarantine – The Times

Comment:

  • Johnson will have to sacrifice his liberal principles to save Britain – Camilla Tominey, Daily Telegraph
  • Britain will have to get more self-sufficient – Iain Martin, The Times
  • Johnson as Churchill? History really does repeat as farce – Geoffrey Wheatcroft, The Guardian
  • Singapore shows how to limit coronavirus without resorting to draconian measures – James Bartholomew, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Shaun Bailey in Local Government: Our communities are capable of greatness when we pull together

Heads call for tests so pupils carry on studying after school shutdown

“Head teachers made last ditch demands for government to reconsider plans to replace A-level and GCSE exams with predicted grades and teacher assessment as schools close for 11 million children today. They want testing in some form to be included in the mix, both for fairness and to keep their pupils studying hard over the next few months. They were enraged when ministers announced on Wednesday that exams would be cancelled with no plans in place for how hundreds and thousands of children would have these crucial results determined. The Times has learnt that the most likely model is “evidenced assessment”. That would combine previous exam results, predicted grades and teacher assessment.” – The Times

  • Students across the UK face exam-grade uncertainty – FT
  • Key workers whose children will be allowed to stay in school – The Sun

Comment:

  • The things I wish I’d known before the schools went into lockdown – Mandie Gower, Daily Telegraph
  • Here’s how children could benefit from the delay in exams – Dr Joanna Williams, Daily Mail
  • Let’s scrap GCSEs for ever, not just this year – Philip Collins, The Times
  • Closing our schools may not be the right choice – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph

Patel apologises as Windrush report condemns Home Office

“Priti Patel apologised to the Windrush generation on behalf of successive governments yesterday after a report found that the scandal was “foreseeable and preventable”. The home secretary said they had been let down by the country they called home by “systemic operational failings” at her department. The report said that the Home Office demonstrated “ignorance and thoughtlessness” over race and that institutional failure had turned the lives of thousands of people upside down. The Windrush Lessons Learned Review was commissioned because migrants who came to Britain after the Second World War were wrongly detained, deported and lost access to benefits when they could not prove they had a right to be here.” – The Times

  • ‘Fundamental changes’ needed to avoid another Windrush – FT

More:

  • Surge in migrants crossing channel as French police divert to lockdown – Daily Telegraph

Salmond trial: Scotland’s former first minister ‘was sexual predator’

“Alex Salmond, Scotland’s former first minister, has been accused of being a “sexual predator” who abused his power to sexually assault women for personal gratification. A jury in Edinburgh was told by the prosecutor Alex Prentice QC on Thursday that Salmond preyed for nearly eight years on young, aspirational women who worked for him while he was first minister, often when they were alone at night. “This case isn’t about a plot or political conspiracy,” he told them. “This is about a powerful man who abused his power to satisfy his sexual desires with impunity.” Summing up after nearly nine days of evidence, Prentice invited the jury of nine women and six men to convict Salmond of one charge of attempted rape, an intent to rape, nine charges of sexual assault and two of indecent assault – charges that Salmond denies.” – The Guardian

  • I checked on woman alone with ex-First Minister, says adviser – The Times

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Sturgeon abandons bid for 2020 independence referendum due to epidemic

News in Brief:

  • This crisis is no time for ideological hobby horses – Matthew Lesh, CapX
  • Why the elderly are dicing with death – Mary Dejevsky, UnHerd
  • Extend sick pay, increase benefits and pay company wage bills – Mike Brewer, Reaction
  • Could measures we’ve taken to stop Covid-19 already be saving lives? – Ross Clark, The Spectator
  • Secret, haphazard pseudo-laws are not the way to treat the coronavirus – Ben Lewis, The Critic

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