Public sector workers to receive biggest pay rise in six years

Public sector workers including teachers, soldiers and police officers will reportedly be given pay rises above inflation as part of new government plans.

Theresa May is expected to make the announcement next week as one of her final acts as prime minister, according to The Times.

The proposed pay rise, which will come at a cost of £2bn, is the public sector’s biggest pay rise in six years.

Two million workers will receive the raise, with police officers set to get a 2.5% pay rise, soldiers a 2.9% increase and teachers and other school staff 2.75%.

Dentists and consultants will get 2.5% and senior civil servants 2%.

The rises will not apply to other public sector staff, including nurses and more junior civil servants, as their pay is dealt with separately.

It is expected the money will come from existing budgets, with the exception of some extra funding for schools.

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Although the pay increases are being welcomed, there is still some concern that the rises do not match the private sector’s push ahead on salaries.

Jonathan Cribb, a senior research economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, told The Times: “These public sector pay rises are higher than last year’s and considerably higher than the 1% for many years before that.

Image: Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to announce the plans next week

“It is the highest nominal pay increase since the coalition. But these increases are still slower than pay rises that are happening on average in the private sector.”

Mr Cribb also warned that without any new money to fund the rises “savings will have to be made elsewhere”.

The move signals a change in direction on public sector pay by the Conservative Party and Mrs May.

Public sector pay rises were capped at 1% by the Conservative-led coalition after it came to power in 2010, but the cap has since been scrapped.

Last year, Mrs May refused to agree to the recommendations of independent public sector pay review bodies, prompting a backlash from home secretary Sajid Javid and then-defence secretary Gavin Williamson.

Speaking at the last Conservative Party conference, the prime minister said the era of austerity had come to an end.

But with the Tory leadership election drawing to a close, front runner Boris Johnson refused to commit to a pay rise for public sector workers – despite an apparent policy pledge by one of his backers.

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt are facing the final hustings

Image: Boris Johnson refused to commit to a pay rise for public sector workers

Health secretary Matt Hancock said the public sector would be “shown some love” if Mr Johnson won, although the leadership contender specifically commit himself.

“Of course he’s right, we are going to make sure that we properly fund our public services,” Mr Johnson said.

“It’s very important when you’re in charge of a great public service, whether it’s the police or transport, you’ve got to make sure – or local government – you’ve got to make sure that you understand their cares and their needs.”

14 injured in collision at illegal street race

Fourteen people have been injured, police say, following a collision during an illegal street race in Stevenage.

Hertfordshire Constabulary said some of those being treated are seriously injured.

The crash, which happened on Monkswood Way at about 9.45pm on Thursday, involved two cars.

Footage from the incident appears to show the two vehicles colliding at high speed before careering into bystanders.

One car is seen turning in from a side road when another speeds past and clips the slower vehicle, sending both veering off in opposite directions.

Crowds appeared to be standing at the side of the road and on the central reservation before the crash.

Image: Crowds are seen standing at the side of the road and on the central reservation

A spokesperson for the East of England Ambulance Service initially said 12 people had been taken to three hospitals – the Lister Hospital in Stevenage, Watford General Hospital and the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow.

More follows…

Hundreds of deaths linked to failed salt reduction policy

A failed salt reduction strategy agreed between the government and the food industry has resulted in hundreds of early deaths that could have been avoided.

Researchers analysing the impact of the Public Health Responsibility Deal, introduced in 2011 and action by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) before then found that the new arrangement actually slowed the rate of reduction of salt in food.

The team from from Imperial College London, Liverpool University and the University of Stirling concluded that if the rate of reduction had stayed as it was prior to 2011 then there would have been 11,400 fewer cases of stomach cancer, stroke and heart disease and 1,320 fewer deaths between 2011 and 2018.

And the team warned that if nothing changes from now until 2025, an estimated 40,300 cases of the same diseases and 7,500 deaths will have occurred since 2011, which otherwise could have been avoided.

Prior to 2011 the FSA had voluntary agreements with industry to reformulate processed foods, but crucially had the power to set binding targets if the they were not met.

Those statutory powers disappeared with the Public Health Responsibility Deal.

Salt in food ‘killing 14,000 people a year’

Too much salt in our diets is causing up to 14,000 preventable deaths every year according to health campaigners

In their report the researchers said that in 2000/01, average daily dietary salt intake was 10.5g for men and 8g for women in England, well above the recommended 6g a day.

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Between 2003 and 2010, this intake fell by 0.2g among men and by 0.12 g among women.

But between 2011 and 2014, annual reductions in dietary salt intake slowed to 0.11g among men and to 0.07g among women.

One of the study authors, Professor Simon Capewell, from the University of Liverpool, said: “The policy messages from this dietary salt reduction analysis could not be clearer.

“The UK Government has a stark choice – either continue its laissez-faire approach which will kill or maim thousands more people, or reactivate the successful FSA approach which would prevent thousands of deaths, and powerfully
assist the NHS and UK economy.”

The research appears to confirm the findings of a 2015 government-funded study which found that the Public Health Responsibility Deal had little positive impact on people’s health.

Ultra-processed food linked to early death, studies find

Ultra-processed food linked to early death, studies find

Eating “ultra-processed” food could increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and an early death, according to new research

Tim Rycroft, chief operating officer of the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), speaking for industry, said: “FDF members have led the way in voluntarily reducing salt in food.

“Compared to four years ago, FDF member products contribute 14% less salt to the average shopping basket, continuing to build on two decades of steady reformulation work following successive voluntary targets.

“Thanks to the huge amount of work that has already been completed over a long period of time, it is no surprise that the rate of change will slow down.

“Most ingredients in food perform a wide range of functions, and go well beyond adding flavour, such as providing texture or shelf-life.

“This means taking anything out of food (through reformulation), be it salt, sugar or calories, is not straightforward.

“We recognise there is more to be done and manufacturers remain committed to the Government’s various reformulation programmes.”

Bravery award for police officer who saved man trapped under car

A police officer who risked his life to save a man trapped under a crashed car has received a top bravery award. 

Warwickshire Police’s PC Andrew Dear bore the weight of the car, which was leaking fuel and at risk of exploding, to help the severely injured victim.

He was the overall winner at the 24th Police Bravery Awards, an event recognising the heroic deeds of officers across the country.

Image: PC Dear won the overall award at this year’s event. Pic: Police Federation

PC Dear was the first to the scene of the serious accident, where he found the man trapped between the road and the roof of an upturned car.

The brave officer wedged himself into a 10-inch gap under the dangerously leaking car to provide an airway and reassure the casualty, who had a severe head inury and was bleeding badly.

Despite the risk to his own life, PC Dear supported the man until a paramedic arrived to secure an IV line and stem the bleeding.

After the incident, the officer said: “Knowing what his family would probably be thinking had he not made it, knowing somebody was there with him when he was injured, trapped – that means everything.”

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PC Dear was among 71 officers from 40 forces across England and Wales who were nominated for the 2019 awards.

Nominees were shot, stabbed, beaten, sprayed with ammonia and hit by their own Taser gun while on duty.

PC Andrew Dear risked his life to help save a man trapped under a car. Pic: Police Federation

Image: PC Andrew Dear (centre) risked his life to help save a man trapped under a car. Pic: Police Federation

Heroic officers rescued people from an oncoming train, a burning vehicle, a fast-flowing river and neck-deep sea water.

PC Dear and seven other regional winners – along with a police dog – picked up awards at the London ceremony, which was organised by the Police Federation and sponsored by Police Mutual.

Police dog Logan and his handler PC Ian Sweeney, from Humberside Police, were named the North East’s winner for catching a stabbing suspect after being shot with a pellet gun.

PC Sweeney was hit in the face, shoulder and leg, while Logan was shot in the mouth and nose three times.

The North West’s winner was Cumbria Police’s Sergeant Kevin Milby, who single-handedly chased and caught an axe-wielding suspect.

Sgt Kevin Milby single-handedly chased and caught an axe-wielding suspect. Pic: Police Federation

Image: Sgt Kevin Milby single-handedly chased and caught an axe-wielding suspect. Pic: Police Federation

He managed to disarm and handcuff the offender, who had forced his way into a home and attacked someone with an axe, leaving them with life-threatening injuries.

DC Joby Reeve, who won in the London region, was stabbed in the leg while protecting a victim from a moped attack.

The South West’s regional winner, PC Agata Makowska of Devon and Cornwall Police, rescued an unconscious man from a house fire.

The officer needed hospital treatment after she ran into the burning building to drag the man to safety.

Another winner, Bedfordshire Police’s PC Christopher Willcox-Cassidy, safely disarmed a vulnerable woman threatening to cut her own throat with a kitchen knife – an incident which happened in his first year of service.

But not all of the winners’ heroic acts were performed on duty.

DC Joanne Smith from Suffolk Police, who won the East regional award, was off duty when she chased after armed robbery suspects.

DC Joanne Smith chased after armed robbery suspects while off duty. Pic: Police Federation

Image: DC Joanne Smith chased after armed robbery suspects while off duty. Pic: Police Federation

Another off-duty officer, PC Kelda Griffiths of Gwent Police, won the Wales regional award for fighting off an assailant with a hammer – despite having a broken hand.

Prime Minister Theresa May, who hosted the awards, praised the “everyday acts of heroism” by officers and said police put themselves “on the line, time and time again, for the sake of others”.

Teenage boy dies after collapsing at assault course

Police are investigating the death of a teenage boy who collapsed at an assault course in Surrey.

The 14-year-old died at the adventure site in Dorking, which is run by Camelot Events, on Thursday.

Officers were called at 1pm and Surrey Police said the death is being treated as “unexplained”.

The force said: “His death is being treated as unexplained; however, at this stage his death is not thought to involve any third party and a file will be passed to the coroner’s office in due course.”

Camelot Events, which also offers charity mud runs, survival skills, paintball, archery and raft building at the site, said it was “fully co-operating with the investigation”.

Operations manager Lisa Edwards said the incident “was not connected to the safety of the obstacle course”, which is said to be the most popular activity the company offers.

The Camelot Events website states that the two-hour sessions are tailored to the ability and fitness levels of each group, and warns that participants will face obstacles that will get them wet and muddy.

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Children must be at least eight years old to take part and should be accompanied by a parent or guardian, it adds.

Ms Edwards said: “We would also like to clarify that, despite earlier reports, the child was not on an obstacle but was on dry land when they became unwell and collapsed.

“Out of respect to the family and friends of the child, we will not be revealing any further details about this incident.

“We have offered our deepest sympathies to the child’s family and the school, and our thoughts continue to be with those affected at this incredibly sad time.

“We will also be supporting our staff who worked tirelessly in their efforts to save the child.”

Fears growing over girl, 13, who vanished five days ago

Fears are growing over a teenage girl who has not been seen since she left her home almost a week ago.

Kimberley Henry left the address in Wellesley Terrace, Newcastle, shortly after 10pm on Saturday.

The youngster, who turned 13 on Thursday, has not been back to the property and detectives have now launched an appeal to locate her.

She is described as white, brown-haired, around 5ft 4in, and of slim build, and was wearing black tracksuit bottoms, a navy T-shirt and a dark hoodie at the time of her disappearance.

She was also wrapped in a purple blanket.

:: Anyone with information should call police on 101 quoting 1383 130719.

Two teens jailed over Essex train stabbing

Two teenagers have been jailed for a total of 21 years after a young man was chased on to a train and stabbed six times in the neck, chest and leg.

CCTV footage shows two attackers chasing the victim, who is in his late teens, through the streets and into Westcliff-on-Sea station in Southend, Essex, on Monday 22 October last year.

They were joined by a third man at the station, 19-year-old Abdi Hashi, who is seen in the footage wearing a black and red tracksuit.

Teens chase stab victim on to train

All three men cornered the victim on a waiting train and stabbed him.

An off-duty nurse and a member of St John Ambulance who were on board managed to keep the man alive until he was taken to a London hospital where he underwent emergency surgery.

The victim spent two weeks in hospital recovering from his injuries.

The attackers – Hashi and a 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons and was seen on CCTV carrying the machete – were both found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm.

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One of the teens, seen wearing a grey coat in the footage, was not identified.

Hashi received a 13-year prison sentence while the 17-year-old was given eight and a half years.

The court heard the victim had been chased from a nearby takeaway.

CCTV footage showed the 17-year-old running after the man with a knife alongside the unidentified teenager.

Hashi was seen joining the group at the station, throwing his bike aside at the entrance and running in.

All three fled the train when it arrived at another stop.

DCI Sam Blackburn, of the British Transport Police, said: “It’s very fortunate that this attack did not result in a death, and it’s a testament to the professionalism and skill of the attending medics that the young victim will live another day.

“The victim and his attackers were known to each other and the incident itself is believed to have been gang related. Nevertheless, this was a vicious assault which is thankfully something we rarely experience on the rail network.

“Both attackers will now serve a substantial period of their adult lives in jail, and I hope the severity of their sentences will force them to question their violent behaviour.”

Tory rebels inflict first Brexit defeat on next PM

Britain’s next prime minister will struggle to shut parliament to force through a no-deal Brexit, after an extraordinary intervention from Tory MPs.

Discipline in Theresa May’s ranks appeared to break down when cabinet ministers defied orders to block the move, helping to inflict a 41-vote defeat against the government on Thursday.

Mrs May’s spokesman signalled no immediate punishment, saying it was for her successor to decide whether to sack them.

Image: Theresa May suffered her last major defeat in office

Tory leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt also missed the vote, saying he mistakenly thought he had been given permission to.

MPs had tried to use the last few days of Mrs May’s premiership to make it harder for the next prime minister to close parliament in the run up to Brexit on 31 October.

Labour’s Hilary Benn, one of the bid’s co-sponsors, declared MPs could not go “missing in action” if the country was headed for a no-deal.

Tory former minister Alistair Burt, the other co-sponsor, added it was not about whether MPs would back deal or no-deal at the time but to be “certain” that “we would actually be here”.

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Boris Johnson has refused to rule out making the move – known as “proroguing” parliament – to ensure Brexit happens on Halloween “do or die”.

Mr Hunt has categorically denied he would employ the tactic, last used by Sir John Major in 1997 to prevent MPs debating the “cash for questions” scandal.

But the method of making proroguing harder infuriated some MPs, because it was tacked on as an amendment to new laws about Northern Ireland.

Cheers as Commons vote is announced

Nigel Dodds, the Democratic Unionist Party’s Westminster leader, called the move “very disconcerting”, while his MP colleague Ian Paisley attacked it as a “hijack”.

As the vote kicked off, Chancellor Philip Hammond was spotted in Downing Street and digital minister Margot James resigned to vote against instructions and for the amendment.

The result – 315 in favour, 274 against – was helped by 17 Tory MPs who voted for the change and 30 who abstained.

Four cabinet ministers – Mr Hammond, Justice Secretary David Gauke, International Development Secretary Rory Stewart and Business Secretary Greg Clark – were among those who did not take part.

The two contenders both took questions from the audience

Image: Either Boris Johnson (left) or Jeremy Hunt (right) will be the next PM

Normally on such an important vote, MPs who break the whip would face punishment, but Mrs May’s spokesman said she would deliver none.

“The prime minister is obviously disappointed that a number of ministers failed to vote in this afternoon’s division,” he said.

“No doubt her successor will take this into account when forming their government.”

Migrants to be tracked by digital IDs post-Brexit

New migrants moving to the UK to work after Brexit will be given unique digital identities and have their visa applications filtered by “automated checks”, according to a leaked Home Office presentation seen by Sky News.

Each migrant will be given an “individual immigration status” from the moment they apply for permission to travel to the UK, which the presentation says will be “digitally ‘stamped’ as they cross the border”.

The individual immigration status, which will replace the current biometric residence permits, will be “checked by employers and public service providers to establish rights to work and access services and benefits in the UK”.

People who have seen the 16-slide presentation, which lays out the Home Office’s plan for dealing with the extra work created by the end of free movement with the European Union, say the system resembles a “digital ID card”.

“It’s digital identity right now for Europeans but you’ll see it much more for other people coming to live here,” says Ian Robinson, who worked for the Home Office for eight years before becoming a partner at law firm Fragomen, where he leads on UK immigration and government strategies.

Sky Views: Algorithmic austerity can’t be ended by money

In many cases, the government does not understand how its systems work, because it has subcontracted their operation to private companies

MPs and campaign groups warned it could be used for government surveillance.

“Digital ID cards have been rejected by the people of this country,” Labour MP Chi Onwurah told Sky News. “You have opportunities for monitoring, for tracking, for people hacking it – but then you also have issues with the data that’s being used to create that and whether it’s biased.”

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“It looks like the Home Office dumped the idea of a physical ID card, but retained the giant database behind it,” said Phil Booth, who led NO2ID, the campaign group formed in 2004 to protest the government’s plans to introduce UK ID cards.

“Given landlords and employers face stiff penalties for renting to or hiring ‘the wrong person’, how long before everyone is forced onto the system if they want to rent or buy a house, or apply for a job?”

The measure is part of a sweeping technological reform of the immigration system, designed to ease the huge workload created for the Home Office by the end of freedom of movement from the European Union.

LONDON - OCTOBER 04: A sign rests on a wall of Lunar House, the headquarters of Britain's Immigration and Nationality Directorate on October 4, 2006 in Croydon, England. The IND is a part of the Home Office and is an immigration processing centre. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Image: The checks will replace in-person interviews

Key to this shift is what the leaked Home Office presentation calls “automated checks of government data”. That is, algorithms filtering visa applications.

According to Mr Robinson, the checks will use applicants’ data to assess applications automatically.

“It will focus on particular biographical features of visa applicants: their age, nationality, whether or not they are working and the type of work they are doing and the salary they are paid,” he told Sky News.

“If you had a visitor from a less economically developed country but were themselves a very economically established, so a businessman from China or India, they would probably flag for an extra check but as soon as [the Home Office] could see that they are working, they have a home life, they have a family, that person wouldn’t be an issue.

“If you were looking at a single man from an entirely undeveloped economies or less developed economies that’s when a flag would be raised.”

According to the presentation, this system will factor in trade deals struck by the UK after Brexit. As a slide titled “Key Principles” puts it: “Not all nationalities will be treated the same. As now, we will differentiate on risk and/or trade deals.”

The checks will also use government data on tax and benefits to check whether the applicant meets the criteria for remaining in the UK – such as the requirement that skilled migrants earn over £30,000 a year.

According to the presentation, these changes will help reduce the time it takes to process “the majority of skilled work applications” for visas from six months to two-three weeks, a huge boost for a department expecting to deal with millions of additional visa applications once the UK leaves the European Union.

“That is a huge weight on their shoulders, so they are using technology to fix this,” says Mr Robinson.

MPs call for national debate over government's digital ID card plans

MPs call for national debate over government’s digital ID card plans

Single unique identifiers would effectively be digital ID cards which could be used to link individuals’ data across databases.

Last month, the Financial Times revealed that the Home Office was secretly processing visa applications using a streaming algorithm, which grades visa applications red, amber or green according to their level of risk. This result is then forwarded to an immigration caseworker.

The new scheme is expected to be a more sophisticated version of the same system, raising concerns it could bias visa decisions against some applicants based on nationality or race.

“I think it’s absolutely horrifying,” said Ms Onwurah, who is chair of the all-party group for Africa.

“The algorithms will be automating all the biases that are packed into the data that’s being used. People can make judgements about the validity of data, algorithms can’t and that is the key difference.”

Image: Chi Onwurah described the plans as ‘horrifying’

Yesterday, the all-party group for Africa warned that the UK visitor visa system is “broken”, saying it was “widely perceived as biased or even discriminating against Africans”.

Speaking in Parliament, Minister for Immigration Caroline Nokes said the streaming algorithm was “used only to allocate applications, not to decide them,” describing it as “an automated flowchart”.

The presentation is based on the Immigration White Paper, which was published at the end of 2018. It is expected to be put before Parliament in early 2020, so that the new visa system can go into force on 1 January 2021.

“This is an old version of a presentation being given as part of our year-long engagement programme around the future immigration and border system,” the Home Office said in a statement.

“So far, we have engaged with more than 1,500 stakeholders at over 100 events across the UK and will continue this work before we finalise the system next year.”

Twelve held over alleged gang rape of Briton in Ayia Napa

A Cyprus court has ordered 12 Israelis tourists to remain in police custody for eight days after a British woman alleged that she was raped.

The woman, 19, filed a complaint with police in Ayia Napa on Wednesday morning saying she had been gang-raped the previous night.

The suspects, who are aged between 15 and 18, covered their faces with their clothing as they arrived in court on Thursday.

Judge Tonia Nicolaou removed reporters from the hearing because of the suspects’ ages.

The alleged attack took place early on Wednesday at a hotel in the popular Cyprus resort town of Ayia Napa where the woman and the suspects were staying separately.

Image: Ayia Napa is a beach resort in Cyprus known for its beaches

Some of the suspects’ parents were present at the court hearing.

They embraced the handcuffed teenagers as they arrived at the courthouse in shorts and T-shirts.

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One young suspect broke down in tears.

Lawyer Ioannis Habaris, who represents four of the suspects, said that prosecutors informed the court that the British woman was raped but that it was unclear exactly how many of the suspects were implicated, the Associated Press reported.

Israeli lawyer Nir Yaslovitzh, who represents three of the suspects, said there was no evidence that the victim knew any of the suspects and that the 12 suspects were visiting Ayia Napa in three separate groups and did not know each other.

He said some of the suspects had gone on the holiday prior to being inducted into the Israeli army.

Mr Yaslovitzh claimed police investigators were trying to set a trap by implicating all 12 suspects.

“I think it’s a trick,” Mr Yaslovitzh told the Associated Press. “They want to know how my clients will [react].”

The suspects were at court for a remand hearing conducted behind closed doors

Image: The suspects were at court for a remand hearing conducted behind closed doors

Police said earlier that the investigation was in its early stages and it is not yet clear how many people are suspected of being involved.

Israel’s foreign ministry said in a statement that its diplomats had been allowed to speak with the suspects.

They added: “The Israeli consul in Nicosia, Yossi Wurmbrand, is following developments and is in contact with the detainees.

“Their families have been updated.”

The woman is undergoing medical checks, according to the Times Of Israel.

Ayia Napa is on the southeast coast of Cyprus.

It is known for its beaches and is particularly popular with younger tourists who go for the vibrant nightlife.