Thursday briefing: Careers of young to bear Covid cost

Hello, Warren Murray introducing the stories that matter right now.

England’s pandemic pupils could lose up to £46,000 in lifetime earnings because of the disruption to their learning – costing the economy up to £463bn in the long run, according to research. The Educational Policy Institute (EPI) also identified stark regional differences, with pupils in parts of the north and Midlands worst affected by Covid upheaval.

Natalie Perera from the EPI said the £3.1bn education recovery programme fell well short of the £13.5bn the EPI believes is required. Nick Brook, the deputy general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said the government’s tutoring “revolution” had the potential to help level the playing field between rich and poor pupils. “But unless government shift up a gear, this revolution is set to stall.”

A government spokesperson said: “We are significantly expanding the national tutoring programme this year, building on the progress from last year when more than 300,000 children benefited, and giving schools more flexibility to deliver tutoring that works for them and their families.”

UK and NZ strike trade deal – Britain has struck a trade deal with New Zealand in a moment that comes with the expected corny lines about tariff-free kiwi fruit and sauvignon blanc in exchange for JCBs and buses. It is partly about reducing New Zealand’s heavy reliance on China for trade – Jacinda Ardern’s government has come under fire for gentler rhetoric towards Beijing than its allies would like. The deal may boost New Zealand’s GDP by $970m or around 0.3%. However, last year’s analysis by the UK government found that its effect on Britain’s GDP would probably have “limited effect … in the long run” – being between a positive growth of 0.01% or negative growth of -0.01%. The Māori haka is protected under the deal as a “national treasure” of New Zealand.

‘Get toddlers off phones’ – The government’s new social mobility commissioner has told MPs Britain needs a nationwide campaign telling parents not to give their toddlers a mobile phone to play with because it will make reading harder for them later on. Katharine Birbalsingh played down the digital divide in learning, saying laptops were not the answer to educational disadvantage: it was improved teaching in schools, good discipline and high standards for all.

Birbalsingh, the head teacher of a secondary school described as the strictest in Britain, is a critic of “woke culture” and a favourite of many Conservative ministers. She said that if you keep telling children the establishment is against them, they are likely to give up. “If it’s the case that you are telling them all the time, ‘You can’t get this job because you are black’, or ‘You can’t do this because you are brown’, it’s very hard for a child to be able to see above that. That does not mean we should bury our heads.”

More households fall behind – Nearly 4 million low-income households are behind on rent, bills or debt payments, up threefold since the pandemic hit, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. The charity is calling for urgent government action including the reinstatement of the £20 uplift in universal credit and help with debts. Meanwhile, the Tory-controlled District Councils Network of 200 councils in English towns has warned of a surge in homelessness this winter as a result of the end to furlough and the eviction ban. The Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said “the best route towards financial independence is through well-paid work”, pointing to its Plan for Jobs, and “the Household Support Fund is helping the most vulnerable with essential costs through this winter”.

‘Pandemic is not over’ – Politicians must set an example including wearing masks in crowded spaces, Sajid Javid has suggested as he predicted new Covid infections could hit a record 100,000 a day. Javid warned “this pandemic is not over” and insisted he would do “what it takes” to protect the health service, but “we don’t believe that the pressures currently faced by the NHS are unsustainable”. He urged millions of eligible people to come forward for booster jabs. Conservative MPs have been sending mixed messages, declining to wear masks in the House of Commons or in packed cabinet meetings, and the business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, encouraging the public to book Christmas parties. Ruth Rankine, director of primary care at the NHS Confederation, has said the Covid booster jabs programme in England is being undermined by public complacency now that restrictions are lifted.

Alternative truths – Donald Trump has announced plans to launch a social media platform called Truth Social that will be rolled out early next year. The former US president, who falsely claims to have won the 2020 election, remains banned from both Facebook and Twitter. Truth social will be a product of a new venture called the Trump Media & Technology Group, which was created through a merger with Digital World Acquisition Corp. The group said it seeks to become a publicly listed company.

The government is demanding that GPs receive more patients face-to-face in return for an injection of extra funding, but many in the profession say the pandemic has left them close to breaking point.

After 32 years of establishment lies, media smears, inquests, trials and retrials, the families of the Hillsborough dead have yet to see anyone held accountable, writes David Conn.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær brushed off the half-time boos as Manchester United came from 2-0 behind to beat Atalanta thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo’s late winner. Thomas Tuchel has been left with a selection crisis in attack after Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner limped off during the first half of Chelsea’s 4-0 win against Malmö in the Champions League. In the Europa League, Patson Daka scored all four of Leicester’s goals as his side came back from 2-0 down in Group C to win 4-3 away against Spartak Moscow. The IOC, Fifa, World Rugby and other sport governing bodies are facing new calls for a radical overhaul of their concussion policies from a group of academics, researchers, clinicians and carers.

Ireland will face a winner-takes-all showdown against Namibia on Friday after a resounding 70-run defeat to Sri Lanka, who became the first side to qualify from the T20 World Cup first round stage. Paulo Fonseca is in advanced talks with Newcastle after emerging as the leading contender to replace Steve Bruce, who departed St James’ Park by “mutual consent” on Wednesday. The president of Fifa, Gianni Infantino, has signalled he is willing to step away from the divisive plan to launch a men’s World Cup every two years. And the England rugby head coach, Eddie Jones, has received a welcome boost with the news that Maro Itoje will be fit to play for Saracens on Sunday.

China Evergrande has seen its shares fall by more than 10% in Hong Kong overnight after its plans to sell a $2.6bn asset to help repay its massive debts fell through. The struggling Chinese property developer, which owes $300bn, planned to flog a stake in its property services division but the deal has collapsed. It could go into default on Monday unless it can stump up $83.5m in interest on a dollar bond. The crisis weighed on Asian markets and the FTSE100 looks like catching a bit of the negative wave this morning and opening down around 0.3%. The pound is on $1.382 and €1.185.

“Javid warns of 100,000 daily cases and urges MPs to lead by example” – the Guardian’s front-page lead today. Our picture lead is the strange case of Ai Da, a “robot artist” detained at customs in Egypt as a possible security threat. The Mirror says “Virus: fight not over” – the headline could have done without the colon, which makes it read like the virus itself is saying that. The i says the message from Sajid Javid is “Get jabbed and wear masks to save Christmas” – similar to the Telegraph’s “Have your booster jab to keep your freedoms”.

The Times splashes on Sajid Javid’s Covid warning as well, and also has one of the women who say they were drugged by being spiked with needles on nights out in Nottingham. The Metro confects “Call two arms” – as in, get both your Covid and your flu shot – and also has “Queen is told to rest up”.

“Miracle pill will halve Covid death risks” – the Mail reports on antivirals that are being bought up for the NHS. The Express presents that as “New drugs to fight off Covid”. We are used to seeing graphs on the front of the Financial Times, but this time it’s a coronavirus one instead of a stock market one: the headline is “Act now or expect return to Covid curbs this winter, Javid tells public”. “Keep calm, Ma’am” – the Sun advises the Queen to rest. Like some of the other titles it runs a picture of Kate with her hand on William’s back and writes it up like they have reinvented romantic love.

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