40. Weekly Newsletter
Conservative Party Conference
Britain’s largest party, which has now been in government continuously since 2010, is currently holding their ‘annual conference’ in Manchester. The Conservative Party has adopted the new slogan of ‘Build Back Better’ (following on from ‘Get Brexit Done’, prior to 2021) but has been trialling out ‘Getting on with the Job’ over the course of the week-long conference. One of the key plans outlined to the party’s membership, at the event, included advancing the UK as a “global leader” in artificial intelligence (AI)– this will be partly achieved through the upcoming creation of 2,000 scholarships.
The Chancellor, Sunak, faced a testing conference due to his recent tax hikes but defended this by stating: “whilst I know tax rises are un-popular, some will even say un-Conservative, I’ll tell you what is un-Conservative: unfunded pledges; reckless borrowing; and soaring debt”. Additionally, Sunak outlined his ambition to cut taxes once the nation’s finances are on a “sustainable footing” following COVID. PM Johnson is expected to deliver his keynote speech at 11.30am on Wednesday (6th October) and will be likely discussing the objectives of ‘Build Back Better’ along with addressing the current fuel crisis.
COVID & Life Expectancies
Almost 7.9m people in the UK have tested positive for COVID and with almost all restrictions lifted: cases remain fairly level but comparatively high. A total of almost 137,000 deaths have been attributed to the virus. Nationally, 48.96m people (about 90% of the eligible population) have received their first vaccine and around 45m of these patients have also received their second dose. This brings the total number of inoculations carried out, by the private sector and National Health Service, to close to 94 million.
In the UK all 12-15 year-olds are being recommended a single Pfizer dose following a recommendation from the nation’s chief medical officers. However, a recent survey, led by three of England’s leading universities, revealed that just 50% of the 27,000 children were ‘willing’ to receive the vaccine. The second most selected option was ‘undecided’ (37%) and data collected suggested that the most hesitant students, typically, spent longer times on social media, attended schools in deprived areas, and felt they did not identify with their school community.
Fuel Stations still Dry
Great Britain has now entered it’s second week of the ‘fuel crisis’ with London and the South East of England continuing to face large shortages at petrol stations. One in five forecourts across the two aforementioned regions continue to not have any fuel, according to the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), but improvements have been made. Evidence of this progress can be found in the removal of the previous £30 spending cap which was temporarily applied to many stations (such as the EG Group).
On Monday (4th October), almost 200 military tanker personnel joined the country’s fleet of HGV drivers to help relieve pressure on petrol stations The industry has blamed the chronic shortage of lorry drivers on COVID, Brexit, an aging workforce and tax changes. Whilst petrol stations are unable to acquire enough fuel: there continues to be “plenty of fuel at UK refineries” according to fuel operators. Nationally, around 86% of petrol stations hold both grades of fuel- leaving around 8% dry.