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What The Telegraph brought in the news on Friday 2023 March 17

Nicola Sturgeon
By Matthew Robinson
Labour is preparing for a tax raid on up to two million pension pots with a plan to reverse the Chancellor’s decision to scrap the lifetime contributions cap. And Nicola Sturgeon has denied that the SNP is in crisis after it was revealed that more than 40 per cent of the party’s membership had quit.

Labour’s pension tax raid plan will ‘hit millions’

Jeremy Hunt’s back-to-work drive is under threat as Labour prepares for a tax raid on up to two million pension pots. Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, announced that the party would reverse Mr Hunt’s decision to scrap the cap on the amount people are allowed to put into their pensions before being taxed. But analysis showed that in two years’ time, two million people could face paying taxes of up to 55 per cent on their pots as a result of Ms Reeves’ policy. Former pension ministers lined up to criticise Labour, saying the announcement could encourage people to “panic-buy” pensions for the next two years before taking early retirement. The uncertainty has also thrown the financial industry into chaos, with pension advisers reportedly inundated with calls from savers already looking for ways to protect their nest eggs from the risk of a Labour government. Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former work and pensions secretary, said: “This is a mistake by Labour. They have taken the bait and not thought this through.”

BBC licence fee to jump by £13 next year

The public faces a £13 rise in the BBC licence fee next year, with the Government under pressure to cancel the increase. The fee is due to rise in line with inflation in April 2024 after a two-year freeze, according to the Culture Department’s official policy. Our Political Editor Ben Riley-Smith writes that the Office of Budget Responsibility forecast that the inflation figure used would be 8.2 per cent. That would mean the BBC licence fee rising from £159 to £172, which would amount to the biggest increase in more than 20 years. Nadine Dorries, the Tory MP who as culture secretary signed off the freeze, called for no further increases until changes to BBC funding are considered. It also comes in the wake of the BBC impartiality row sparked by Gary Lineker, which saw some Tory MPs demand that the licence fee be scrapped.

SNP loses 40 per cent of its membership

Nicola Sturgeon has denied that the SNP is in crisis after the party was forced to admit that more than 40 per cent of its members had quit and her self-ID gender reforms were blamed for a recent mass exodus. After weeks of refusing to provide the figure, the SNP said only 72,186 members were eligible to vote in the current leadership contest – a drop of more than 50,000 on the 125,000 total the party boasted of in 2019. Ms Sturgeon insisted her 89-year-old party was experiencing “growing pains” during the contest. But Ash Regan, one of the leadership contenders, blamed the figures on the “fiasco” over Ms Sturgeon’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill. Our Scottish Political Editor Simon Johnson has the full story.

Also in the news on Friday

Strikes | NHS staff are being offered a pay bump of up to 18 per cent this year in an effort to end the strikes, amid questions about how the £2.5bn package will be funded. The terms, backed by ministers and unions for around one million health workers, propose a minimum five per cent increase for the next financial year – with a 10.4 per cent rise for the lowest paid. Read the full report here.

Around the world: France on verge of ‘democratic breakdown’, Macron warned

France is on the verge of a “democratic breakdown”, Emmanuel Macron was warned last night after he rammed his unpopular pension reform through parliament without a vote. The opposition said the controversial move was a denial of democracy and an admission of weakness, while unions warned it was tantamount to a declaration of war. A spontaneous demonstration of several thousand people erupted last night in the Place de la Concorde, in Paris, where fires were lit and protesters clashed with police. Henry Samuel has the full story.
French police fire tear gas during a demonstration against the pension reforms in Lille Credit: SAMEER AL-DOUMY/AFP/Getty Images

Comment and analysis

Editor’s choice

Technology | The next challenge for ChatGPT? To save the NHS
GPT has potential in diagnosis, clinical trials and analysing patient data – could it help our ailing health service?

a new technology is going further than hazy diagnosis, proving capable of analysing complex individual patient histories to suggest treatment plans as sophisticated as those of an expert medic. Ask nicely and it will even ditch the jargon and boil its recommendations down into a useful summary. For free. Turns out there is a new GP in town.

GPT, the digital world’s Big

Motherhood | After speaking to 45 women, I finally knew whether I wanted children
John Lewis
John Lewis | ‘I spend £1,000 a month in the department store’

Business news: Crackdown on payment firms to avoid fresh crisis

Payments providers have been ordered by the City watchdog to strengthen their controls as fears of another financial crisis continue to haunt the markets. The Financial Conduct Authority threatened to shut down so-called shadow banks unless they ensure their “customers’ money is safe”, writes Simon Foy. In a letter to nearly 300 chief executives, the regulator instructed businesses to build up financial reserves, eliminate money laundering and ensure they are managed appropriately. The failure of Silicon Valley Bank has created fears of a run on lenders, with markets swinging wildly and Credit Suisse forced to seek emergency funding. Meanwhile, a group of Wall Street’s largest lenders have propped up crisis-hit Californian lender First Republic in a $30bn deal.

Published by Guestspeaker

A joint effort of several authors who do find that nobody can keep standing at the side and that “Everyone" must care about what is going on in today’s world. We are a bunch of people who do not mind that somebody has a totally different idea but is willing to share the ideas with others and to be Active and willing to let others understand how "today’s decisions will influence the future”. Therefore we would love to see many others to "Act today".

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