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UK Unveils Cost-Of-Living Budget As Mass Strikes Hit Nation

Britain’s finance minister unveils a cost-of-living budget on Wednesday as the government seeks to keep a grip on public spending in the face of a fresh wave of strikes over pay.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt delivers his tax and spending plan to parliament from 12:30 GMT, as teachers, junior doctors, civil servants, BBC journalists and drivers on London’s underground Tube railway stage the latest day of mass walkouts.

Public and private sector workers show little sign of ending strike action that began last year when rocketing inflation slashed the value of wages.

Ahead of the budget, Hunt has flagged increased childcare funding and proposals to encourage Britons aged over 50 to rejoin the jobs market.

The government is also expected to confirm plans to entice those who have dropped out of the jobs market back to work.

It is looking to fill 1.1 million staff vacancies — in part caused by a lack of EU workers following Brexit, and a record number of people classed as long-term sick.

Reports add that Hunt could allow workers to put more tax-free money into their private pensions.

“Reports of senior doctors retiring early due to the impact of pension tax allowances… have undoubtedly been of particular concern to the government given the pressures already on the health system following the pandemic,” noted Tom Selby, head of retirement policy at AJ Bell.

“However, both the lifetime and annual allowance apply across all types of private pensions and so this announcement would increase the retirement savings limits for millions of Brits.”

In neighbouring France, the Senate at the weekend voted to approve a deeply unpopular reform to the country’s pension system.

The headline measure is a hike in the minimum retirement age to 64 from 62, seen by many as unfair to people who started working young.

Britain’s retirement age of 66 is meanwhile set to increase before the end of the decade, meaning a longer wait to access the state pension. Private pensions are available at an earlier age.
[00:40, 15/03/2023] Grace Madam: Senegal Opposition Party Launches Protest Over Leader’s Trial
[00:41, 15/03/2023] Grace Madam: Thousands of supporters of Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko rallied in Dakar on Tuesday, the first of several days of protests as the country prepares for elections in less than a year.

Tensions are rising ahead of the vote in a country seen as a democratic mainstay in the region, amid speculation that President Macky Sall could bypass the constitution and seek a third presidential term.

The demonstration called by the Liberate the People coalition was the first authorised by authorities in recent months.

“In 2024, no one will be able to stop us from taking this country,” Sonko told his followers.

“I don’t believe in Macky Sall’s institutions because he himself doesn’t respect them,” he said, calling on his supporters to back him in big numbers…


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