Minister rejects IFS claim that autumn statement means more austerity – UK politics live | Politics #Minister #rejects #IFS #claim #autumn #statement #means #austerity #politics #live #Politics

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Cameron announces £30m more aid for Gaza ahead of meetings with Palestinian leaders

David Cameron, the foreign secretary, will meet with Palestinian leaders and commit a further £30m in aid for people in Gaza following the announcement of a truce in the conflict in the Middle East, PA Media reports. PA says:

The former prime minister is urging “all parties to continue to work towards the release of every hostage” after holding talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog during a visit to Israel yesterday.

Today he will be in the occupied Palestinian territories, meeting Palestinian leaders and agencies delivering aid in Gaza advocating adherence to the new agreement on all sides.

The ceasefire was due to begin this morning, with aid “going in as soon as possible”, according to Qatari officials.

The first set of civilians held captive by Hamas are expected to be freed at about 4pm on Friday local time, including 13 women and children.

Cameron said: “We are hopeful that today will see the release of hostages, and I am urging all parties to continue to work towards the release of every hostage. A pause will also allow access for life-saving aid to the people of Gaza.

“I am proud that a fourth UK flight carrying critical supplies landed in Egypt today, and I can announce new £30m of funding which will be spent on vital aid such as shelter and medical provisions.

“It is vital to protect civilians from harm, and we are urgently looking at all avenues to get aid into Gaza, including land, maritime and air routes.”

Good morning. We are expecting to hear from Rishi Sunak this morning. He and Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, are in the north-east of England on a visit linked to the announcement that Nissan is investing £2bn in its plant in Sunderland where three new electric car models will be made. Jasper Jolly has the story.

In a statement about this issued this morning, Sunak said:

Nissan’s investment is a massive vote of confidence in the UK’s automotive industry, which already contributes a massive £71bn a year to our economy. This venture will no doubt secure Sunderland’s future as the UK’s Silicon Valley for electric vehicle innovation and manufacturing.

Making the UK the best place to do business is at the heart of our economic plan. We will continue to back businesses like Nissan to expand and grow their roots in the UK every step of the way as we make the right long term decisions for a brighter future.

But it is never easy to get the media to focus primarily on good news, and Sunak is instead likely to face questions about two of the much more tricky questions in his in-try.

First, if No 10 says net migration is “far too high”, what is he going to do about it? As Jamie Grierson reports, following the publication of figures yesterday saying net migration peaked at 745,000 in the year ending December 2022, Conservative MPs are furious and demanding an immediate response. Robert Jenrick, the immigration minister, has drawn up plans for further restrictions, including lifting the annual salary required for people getting a work visa to £35,000. The BBC’s Chris Mason has the details.

Secondly, the debate about the merits of the autumn statement continues, particularly after the experts yesterday made it very clear that Hunt’s tax cuts are in effect funded by projected spending cuts that may be impossibly tight. As Richard Partington, Kiran Stacey and Phillip Inman report, the Institute for Fiscal Studies says these cuts would be worse than George Osborne’s austerity programme.

The government’s response has been to claim that it can cut spending on public services without making them worse by making them more efficient. In interviews this morning, Mel Stride, the work and pensions secretary, rejected claims that the autumn statement meant another round of austerity was coming. He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain:

I really don’t see us going into any era of austerity, as you put it.

I think there are two important points here. One is that in the autumn statement, the chancellor came forward with the kind of long-term thinking and actions now that will lead to greater business investment and growth in the economy going forward.

For example, the 100% full expensing for investments makes us the most competitive destination for businesses out of the G7 and across the OECD.

But secondly, we have to look at productivity. Public services aren’t all about just constantly spending ever more money. It is about the outputs.

So John Glen [Cabinet Office minister], one of my very capable colleagues, and others across government, are absolutely engaged in a mission to improve productivity across the public sector. I believe it is the case that if we were to increase productivity by 0.5% for example, there wouldn’t be any further pressure on increases in taxes.

So I think there is a huge amount we can do through productivity and investing in the long-term to get that growth going.

We are expecting to hear from Sunak this morning. Otherwise, it looks quiet. The Commons is not sitting, and the diary is pretty empty. But David Cameron, the new foreign secretary, is still in the Middle East where today he will be in the occupied Palestinian territories, meeting Palestinian leaders and agencies delivering aid to Gaza.

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#Minister #rejects #IFS #claim #autumn #statement #means #austerity #politics #live #Politics

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