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Foreign Secretary Liz Truss yesterday announced fresh sanctions on Russia

   News / 07 Apr 2022

Published: 07 April 2022
Location: London, UK

By Suzanne Evans, Director, Political Insight


Foreign Secretary Liz Truss yesterday announced fresh sanctions on Russia. They included:

  • Asset freezes against Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, and Credit Bank of Moscow
  • An outright ban on all new outward investment to Russia (worth over £11 billion in 2020)
  • An end to all dependency on Russian coal and oil by the end of 2022, and an end to imports of gas as soon as possible thereafter
  • Action against key Russian strategic industries and state-owned enterprises, including a ban on imports of iron and steel products, and
  • Targeting eight oligarchs active in these industries, which Putin uses to prop up his war economy.

At today’s meeting of G7 Foreign Ministers, Truss will call for further collective action, including an accelerated timetable for all G7 countries to end their dependency on Russian energy.
 
Annual inflation in Russia accelerated to 16.70% as of April 1, Reutersreports, its highest since March 2015 and up from 15.66% a week earlier, as the volatile rouble sent prices soaring amid unprecedented Western sanctions. New car sales in the country also fell 62.9% year-on-year in March, contracting for a ninth straight month. The Association of European Businesses said yesterday that new auto sales in Russia amounted to 55,129 cars in March, around half the number sold in February.
 
Today’s front page of The Independent reveals that Chancellor Rishi Sunak’swife holds non-domiciled status. The newspaper says that Akshata Murty,who is believed to be worth hundreds of billions of pounds, has her permanent home outside of the UK, and could therefore have saved millions by not paying UK tax on foreign investments and overseas rental income, and will avoid UK inheritance taxes entirely. This is not unlawful. The Labour Party said: “The Chancellor has imposed tax hike after tax hike on the British people. It is staggering that, at the same time, his family may have been benefitting from tax reduction schemes. This is yet another example of the Tories thinking it is one rule for them, another for everyone else.” The statement added: “Rishi Sunak must now urgently explain how much he and his family have saved on their own tax bill at the same time he was putting taxes up for millions of working families and choosing to leave them £2,620 a year worse off.” A spokeswoman for Ms Murty confirmed she held non-dom status and said: “Akshata Murty is a citizen of India, the country of her birth and parent’s home. India does not allow its citizens to hold the citizenship of another country simultaneously. So, according to British law, Ms Murty is treated as non-domiciled for UK tax purposes. She has always and will continue to pay UK taxes on all her UK income.”
 
Health Secretary Sajid Javid yesterday defended the National Insurance tax increase as a "right and fair" way of funding the NHS by taxing the highest earners.
 
Women are still being paid less than men despite the gender pay gapshrinking for the second year in a row, government data suggests. The latest figures show the median pay gap shrank to 9.8% in the year to last April, down from 10% a year earlier, although in 12 out of 21 industries, the pay gap widened: 36% of organisations had a larger median pay gap than last year. On average, women were paid 90.2p for every £1 men earned, with the largest gap reported in construction, according to analysis carried out by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). Human health and social work activities reported the smallest gaps at 98p for every £1.
 
British construction firms have been hit by the fastest jump in costs in six months, according to S&P Global’s latest purchasing managers’ index (PMI). Builders reported problems obtaining supplies, and escalating energy, fuel and commodity prices last month, however the construction sector still expanded at the same rate as in February, and new orders for construction projects climbed at the fastest pace since August 2021.
 
UK Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is set to unveil a new energy strategy for the UK, with a vision that will include “more wind, more solar, more nuclear, more hydrogen – while maximising North Sea production”. Speaking ahead of the launch he said: “We have seen record high gas prices around the world. We need to protect ourselves from price spikes in the future by accelerating our move towards cleaner, cheaper, home-grown energy. The simple truth is that the more cheap, clean power we generate within our borders, the less exposed we will be to eye watering fossil fuel prices set by global markets we can’t control”. The plans mean up to eight more nuclear reactors could be built on existing sites as part of the new strategy, while a new round of North Sea oil and gas licences will begin later this year.
 
Part of the National Grid is to be returned to public ownership. The utility company will sell its Electricity System Operator arm to the government, which will then become part of a new authority, the Future System Operator(FSO), which will oversee Britain's electricity systems and other projects such as carbon capture and offshore wind networks. Jonathan Brearley, CEO of energy regulator Ofgem, said: "A fully independent system operator will help to transform Great Britain's energy system and cut customers' energy bills. Critically, the FSO will ensure that we will build a smart, efficient and flexible system that will mean that Britain moves to a secure, low-carbon and low-cost system." The government did not say how much it would cost to renationalise the unit but said National Grid would be "appropriately compensated", although the final deal has yet to be agreed.
 
British Gas has doubled the emergency credit available to customers who are on pre-payment meters for their gas and electricity after this month’s hike in energy prices. The supplier has written to customers who have an electric key or gas card telling them that they can continue to use energy until they are £10 over their pre-payments, up from the previous £5.
 
P&O Ferries says it will restart Dover-Calais crossings next week if maritime officials sign off safety checks on its vessels and crew.
 
EasyJet and British Airways cancelled dozens more flights yesterday as they continue to struggle with Covid staff absences. In the past week, well over 1,000 flights have been affected, according to figures from data company Cirium, compared to 197 the same week in 2019. EasyJet pulled at least 30 flights to or from Gatwick airport yesterday, while BA appeared to have axed 78 flights in and out of Heathrow. The rate of staff absences at easyJet is around double normal levels. Meanwhile, former Monarch Airlines boss and director of Cornwall Airport Newquay, Tim Jeans, told the BBC Radio 4 Todayprogramme yesterday that flight delays at Manchester Airport are likely to continue until the middle of June. Earlier this week the mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, suggested police may be drafted in to help bring the situation under control.
 
Trade unions have condemned the owner of struggling Manchester airportfor inflating bosses’ pay by almost a quarter in the first year of the pandemic even as the wages for staff were cut and hundreds of workers were let go, The Guardian reports. The annual report of Manchester Airports Group (MAG) which also owns London Stansted and East Midlands airports, showed pay for the group’s managers rose by £2.8m to £12.2m in the year ending 31 March 2021 – the first 12 months of Covid when air travel slumped. The highest-paid director at MAG – understood to be its CEO Charlie Cornish – was awarded an extra £500,000, a rise of 25% taking his total renumeration to £2.5m, despite having embarked on a programme of mass redundancies during the pandemic and asking remaining employees to accept a year-long 10% pay cut. The general secretary of the union Unite, Sharon Graham, said: “It’s the same old story: while destroying hundreds of jobs and cutting the wages of remaining staff by 10%, Manchester airport’s fat cats were awarding themselves massive pay rises.”
 
Singer Ed Sheeran won a High Court copyright battle over his track Shape Of You, yesterday, and immediately hit out at a “damaging” culture of “unwarranted” legal claims against songwriters brought in the hope artists will settle privately rather than go to court. Such legal challenges are “way too common” he said, after a judge ruled his 2017 hit did not infringe another song, Oh Why by Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue.
 
An investment firm run by the founders of Innocent smoothies has launched a £100 million fund to back new consumer brands. London-based venture capital firm JamJar will make early-stage investments of £500,000 to £3 million to help European start-ups launch new consumer products. “We’ll do everything from fintech to dog food,” said Richard Reed, JamJar partner and co-founder of Innocent Drinks.
 
Stone and concrete landscape products maker Marshalls said yesterday that it has agreed to buy roofing specialist Marley from private equity firm Inflexion for £535m, with part of the consideration to be funded through a share placing.
 
British manufacturer PragmatIC Semiconductor, a world leader in flexible electronics, is building a new £68 million factory in Country Durham. The largest single investment in the Cambridge-based firm's history is expected to create 125 jobs.
 
The buyer of London listed events company Hvye’s Russian business has been revealed to be Rise Expo Limited, a new entity, incorporated as an international business company in the United Arab Emirates. The deal is said to be worth up to £72m in cash for Hyve.
 
Social media website Pinterest has become the first company to ban “climate misinformation” from its platform in a crackdown on freedom of expression online. The site will no longer permit posts that oppose “the existence or impacts of climate change” or allow its users to question “well-established scientific consensus”. Pinterest confirmed it will use machine learning technology to identify and remove posts that break its new rules, raising fears of automated overreach. Campaign group Big Brother Watch condemned the move, warning it would be “counterproductive” and encourage distrust of mainstream social media sites.


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