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Rishi Sunak giving with one hand and taking away with the other, says Labour

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Rishi Sunak giving with one hand and taking away with the other, says Labour

Rishi Sunak has been urged to use the budget to help families with “immediate pressures” through the winter, as pay rises alone are unlikely to make up for the cost-of-living crisis and universal credit cut.

Bridget Phillipson, the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said the chancellor was so far “giving with one hand and taking away with the other” as the national living wage rise would not in many cases make up for the £20 a week cut to universal credit and rising inflation.

Sunak is expected to announce a flagship measure to help with the cost of living at the budget, which is due to be announced in the Commons at 12.30pm on Wednesday.

He could offer help with energy bills, which have risen by 12% on average, and may also reduce the taper rate on universal credit, which would allow those in work to keep more of their earnings.

Andy Burnham, the Labour mayor of Greater Manchester, said he had heard there would be a “U-turn” on universal credit that would help those in work.

In his budget, Sunak is expected to strike an upbeat note, after proclaiming an “age of optimism” after setting out £30bn of spending on the NHS, transport and skills in the run-up to Wednesday’s speech.

He has more room for manoeuvre on spending than previously thought earlier this year as the economy has performed better than forecasts.

However, the threat of inflation is still looming over winter before pay rises from the higher national living wage and end to the public sector pay freeze come into force in spring.

Sunak’s 1.25 percentage point rise in national insurance also comes into force in April, while the universal credit cut has already happened.

In a round of media interviews, Phillipson said the cut to universal credit was “the biggest cut to social security we have seen since the welfare state was created”.

“For many families it is all they have ever known,” she told Sky News. “A lot of families started receiving universal credit because of the pandemic. It is a massive hit to families’ incomes. We want to see immediate action to deal with the cost-of-living crisis facing families as we are entering a pretty tough winter for lots of people, but also businesses too.

“We have had a lot of smoke and mirrors going into this budget, and it’s all very good and well the government promising things, but if that doesn’t lead to people feeling that extra support in their pocket, that will be the real test for the government.”

Robert Jenrick, a former Treasury minister, told broadcasters Sunak would have to think carefully about the pressures on people on modest incomes when he delivered the budget.

Jenrick said there were “reasons for optimism”, but the chancellor was still facing some problems.

“I think the Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts are going to show the economy has grown substantially therefore we are borrowing much less as a country, and that gives the chancellor more room to invest in the future of public services like the NHS,” Jenrick told Sky News.

“But I think he is also going to have to think carefully about people on the most modest incomes and how he can help them in what is undoubtedly still going to be a difficult period when we are seeing inflation rising, higher energy prices and so on.”

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Ondo Govt reacts to court judgement declaring new LCDAs ‘illegal’

The Ondo State Government says necessary legal action will be taken on the judgement nullifying the creation of the 33 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) in the state.

The government’s reaction is contained in a statement by the Attorney General of Ondo State, Mr Kayode Ajulo SAN, made available to  newsmen on Friday in Akure.

Justice A.O Adebusuoye of the state High Court had in a judgement on Thursday described the creation of the LCDAs as unlawful.

The court said it was illegal for a governor to sign a law outside the State.

The court said that the Local Government Creation Law 2023 signed by the late Governor Rotimi Akeredolu in Ibadan was unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.

The statement said the government has taken cognizance of Ondo State High Court’s judgement and had requested for a Certified True Copy of it.

Ajulo said after it was studied and analysed, a legal opinion would be presented to the state government.

“Subsequently, all necessary measures, in accordance with our laws, will be taken to safeguard the interests of our citizens, foster peaceful coexistence, and uphold the rule of law.

“The Attorney General remains steadfast in his commitment to prioritizing the well-being and welfare of our citizens, working tirelessly to ensure that justice and the law are served,” the statement said.

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LASTMA impounds 40 vehicles in Oyingbo, ijora, idumota axis

The  Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) has impounded another 25 commercial and 15 private vehicles operating illegal garages and causing serious road obstructions around Oyingbo, Ijora, and Idumota areas of  Lagos.

Mr Taofiq Adebayo, Director, Public Affairs and Enlightenment Department of LASTMA, said this in a statement on Friday in Lagos.

Adebayo said impounding the vehicles at these areas was a decisive move by LASTMA to restore order and ensure the free flow of traffic.

He said the operation was led by LASTMA Head of Enforcement, Mr Kayode Odunuga, under the directives of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Mr Sola Giwa.

Adebayo that they were specifically directed to target illegal garages that had been a persistent source of congestion and inconvenience for residents and commuters.

He said the impoundment, which began in recent weeks, was part of a broader initiative by the  Lagos State Government to enhance the efficiency of the city’s transportation network.

He quoted Giwa as emphasising that government is committed to maintaining law and order on the roads, ensuring that all traffic regulations are strictly enforced.

“illegal garages have been a significant challenge in our quest to maintain a seamless traffic flow in Lagos.

“These impoundments send a strong message to all offenders that the state will not tolerate activities that disrupt public order and endanger the lives of our citizens.

“Our goal is to create a safe and orderly environment for all road users and this action is a crucial step in that direction,” Giwa said.

He noted that the targeted areas, Oyingbo, Ijora, and Idumota, are known hotspots for traffic congestion due to unauthorised parking and the establishment of makeshift garages.

He said that these activities not only obstruct the free movement of vehicles but also pose safety risks to pedestrians.

“LASTMA’s intervention aims to clear these bottlenecks and enhance the overall traffic situation in these critical areas.

“Residents and business owners have expressed their support for the government’s action, noting the positive impact it will have on their daily activities.

“LASTMA has also assured the public that the operation will be sustained and extended to other parts of the city where illegal garages and related activities are prevalent,” he quoted Giwa as saying.

He urged all vehicle owners and operators to adhere to the state’s traffic regulations and cooperate with authorities to avoid sanctions.

He reiterated that the government’s primary objective was to create a better and more livable Lagos for everyone.

He also urged motorists to take ownership of the roads and to promptly inform LASTMA of any broken down or abandoned trailers or trucks via the Agency’s hotlines: 0810056586008129928503.

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Emir of Ilorin commiserates with Saraki over mother’s death

Nigeria in very bad shape, only PDP can rebuild it —Saraki

Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, has commiserated with a former Senate President,  Dr Bukola Saraki, over the death of his mother, Mrs Florence Saraki.

This is contained in a condolence message issued by the emir’s Spokesman, Mallam Abdulazeez Arowona, on Wednesday in Ilorin.

Mrs Saraki died on Tuesday at the age of 89.

Sulu-Gambari described the deceased as a wonderful mother, great philanthropist and virtuous wife to  Dr Olusola Saraki, the late Waziri of Ilorin, whose contributions to humanity would forever be remembered.

According to him, the deceased lived a fulfilled life, with numerous accomplishments.

The royal father urged Saraki, a two-term governor of Kwara, and his siblings to be strong in heart over the demise of their beloved mother.

Sulu-Gambari, who is also the Chairman of Kwara Traditional Rulers’ Council, extended his condolences to both the immediate and extended family members of the Saraki dynasty.

“I pray that Almighty Allah grants the family and friends the fortitude to bear the great loss,” he said.

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