Newspaper headlines: No ‘cliff edge’ and housing market ‘kick-started’


FT front page
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Most of the papers lead on the announcement by the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, that the government’s job retention scheme will be extended until the end of October. The Financial Times reports that the cost of the initiative – where employees on leave receive 80% of their monthly wages up to £2,500 – could reach £80bn. But the paper says Mr Sunak presented businesses with a “moment of truth” by asking employers to start sharing the cost of the scheme from 1 August, forcing them to decide whether frozen jobs are still viable.
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The Guardian says the chancellor’s announcement was a “surprise move” that underlined the likely duration of the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The paper notes that official figures released on Wednesday will give an early glimpse of the toll of the shutdown, when the first estimate of GDP for the first quarter of the year is revealed.
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“No summer cliff edge for 7.5 million workers” is the i’s take, referring to previous fears that the scheme could have been abruptly withdrawn. The paper notes that the plan – intended to prevent mass redundancies next month, when it was originally due to end – has been welcomed by Labour and unions.
Daily Express front page
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For the Daily Express, Mr Sunak gave a “lifeline” to affected workers with his announcement. The paper says the extension of the furlough system will “shield” workers from the threat of redundancy.
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The Sun describes the move as an £80bn “splurge” to save jobs, as the cost of the pandemic to the UK “spirals”.
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The cost of the pandemic to the Exchequer could reach almost £300bn this year, according to the Daily Telegraph. The paper says it has seen a confidential Treasury document which sets out a proposed package of tax increases and spending reductions that may have to be announced within weeks to “enhance credibility and boost investor confidence” in the economy.
Daily Mirror front page
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Thousands of people will return to work on Wednesday as fears grow over the risk to jobs and health, the Daily Mirror reports. The paper says there are concerns a lack of social distancing at work and on public transport could re-spread the virus.
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In other news, the Daily Mail reports that the housing market in England will reopen on Wednesday, in a bid to get Britain “moving again”. The paper says the seven-week ban on property deals has been lifted and estate agents have been told they can reopen immediately, though they are being urged to use online viewings. But – in a “blow to millions” – the paper also notes that families have been told it is unlikely they will be able to go abroad this summer.
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“Housing market kick-started” is the Times’ headline. The paper says people will be allowed to visit and view properties, in a move experts said could limit the decline in house prices. Estate agents, removal firms and conveyances will all now be permitted to open in England, as long as they follow social-distancing rules.
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The Metro reports that new figures suggest the UK coronavirus death toll has “soared past” 40,000 – significantly higher than the official tally of 32,692, reported on Tuesday. The paper says the grim figures emerged as police began investigating the death of Belly Mujinga, a ticket checker at Victoria station, who died after a commuter spat in her face, saying he had Covid-19.
Daily Star front page
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The Daily Star reports that Countdown star Rachel Riley has criticised Eamonn Holmes for spreading “ridiculous theories” about the myth that 5G causes coronavirus. Broadcasting watchdog Ofcom said his remarks had been “ill-judged”.

There’s a mixed reaction to yesterday’s announcement that the chancellor will extend his job retention scheme by four months.

The Daily Mirror thinks Rishi Sunak deserves credit for the move, describing it as a “rare success” in the government’s response to coronavirus, while “Sigh of relief for millions” is how the Daily Express describes the move.

But the Daily Mail is more wary. “At such a critical time”, it says in its editorial, “this is a humane and understandable policy, but it comes at an eye-watering price”.

The Financial Times says Mr Sunak has been grappling with “extremely difficult” scenarios and faced triggering a “huge wave” of redundancies if he tried to wean companies off the scheme at the end of next month.

“But having decided to extend it”, the paper argues, “this could simply postpone the demise of zombie businesses”.

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As the Daily Telegraph points out, Whitehall officials are frantically trying to work out how he will pay for it.

The paper has seen a confidential assessment which estimates that the coronavirus crisis could cost the Treasury almost £300bn this year.

The document sets out how the Exchequer could recoup some of the money through income tax rises, the end of the triple-lock on state pension increases and a two-year pay freeze for public sector workers.

A Treasury source tells the paper that the assessment merely lays out the possible options, rather than recommending a particular course of action.

A study in the Guardian recommends that eight million people with underlying health problems should be exempt from plans to restart the economy.

According to researchers at University College London, around 20% of the population are living with common conditions such as diabetes and obesity, but because many of them are not classified as “clinically extremely vulnerable”, they haven’t been told to shield for 12 weeks at home.

Surprise at housing market reopening

There’s surprise from estate agents following the decision to re-open the housing market in England.

The head of the industry trade body, Mark Hayward, tells the Times he expected it to happen next month at the earliest, despite pressure from customers eager to move home.

The Financial Times says it’s also unclear how many viewings can be held in a single day if agents are supposed to meet only one person from outside their household.

“It is really confusing”, says the boss of the lettings regulator, David Cox. “Is it one other person at 9am, one other person at 10am or one person ever?”

And several papers feature a retired GP from Glasgow, who narrowly missed out on becoming the first person in 14 years to win the top prize on ITV’s “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?”

The Daily Mirror says fans of the quiz were left “gutted” last night when Andrew Townsley decided not to play the £1m question on iconic motor races, even though he knew the right answer.

Mr Townsley, who has progressive multiple sclerosis and appeared on the show in a wheelchair, tells the Sun he was “quite happy” to walk away with £500,000, and is glad to have a “bit of a financial cushion in this unsettled world”.


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