March 19, 2023

UK Covid live: More than 1 million pupils in England out of school last week for pandemic-related reasons

Latest updates: Department for Education figures reveal more than 1 million children in England were...

Latest updates: Department for Education figures reveal more than 1 million children in England were out of class for Covid reasons last week

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  • Coronavirus global updates – latest

3.21pm BST

Three more thinktanks have joined those criticising the proposal to use a national insurance increase to fund social care reform. (See 10.11am and 11.09am.)

This is from Charlotte Pickles, head of Reform, a centrist thinktank.

This is a regressive step – requiring shrinking & on average poorer younger generations to pay for care of growing & largely wealthier older generations

At a minimum must mean pensioners paying NI & asset-rich paying fair contribution

Politicians face a difficult truth: there is no easy way to fund a social care system which has suffered from decades of neglect, with too many people facing the prospect of a catastrophic lottery of care costs and quality.

It is in the interest of all generations to reach an equitable solution, but raising national insurance contributions fails to meet that mark and breaks the contract between generations. A NI increase passes the buck to poorer, working families who have suffered significant financial hardship during the pandemic, whilst protecting the wealth of asset-rich older voters.

We absolutely need serious investment in #socialcare. But hiking #nationalinsurance in its current form will disproportionately hit the young and millions of people already struggling to make ends meet.


We need a proper plan to fund social care that shares the burden between generations and asks those that can most afford to to pay their fair share: Time to unpick the pensions #triplelock.


If the prize is a properly funded universal social care system, everyone should pay their share.

How we can fund our health system fairly:

3.08pm BST

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative party leader, has told MPs that he is under threat from China. Speaking in the Commons, during an urgent question about the about the Chinese state-backed Microsoft Exchange hack, Duncan Smith said:

I understand now there is intelligence from the Five Eyes sources that there is now a very active and direct threat from the Chinese government aimed directly at the co-chairs of the inter-parliamentary alliance on China.

Some of these co-chairs, of which I am one, have now been warned by their intelligence services in receipt of this that they should be very careful and that they will be supported.

The Chinese side is gravely concerned and strongly opposed to this.

We call on the UK side to immediately stop echoing the groundless and irresponsible accusation against China.

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