Theresa May promises to look into man’s £54,000 NHS cancer bill

Jeremy Corbyn raises case of Albert Thompson, denied treatment because he lacked proof of residency

Theresa May has promised to look into the case of a London man asked to pay £54,000 for cancer treatment despite having lived in the UK for 44 years, after Jeremy Corbyn raised it at prime minister’s questions.

The Labour leader began a series of PMQs questions on the NHS by asking May about Albert Thompson, whose case was uncovered by the Guardian. Thompson is not receiving the radiotherapy treatment he needs for prostate cancer after he was unable to provide evidence of residency.

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Sharp rise in number of EU nationals applying for UK citizenship

The number of German, Italian and French nationals applying for British citizenship has more than trebled in three years as the impact of the Brexit referendum is felt, government data has revealed.

Almost 30,000 EU nationals applied to become British citizens between June 2016 and June 2017, double the previous year.

By volume, Poles topped the list of those seeking British citizenship in the past three years with just under 6,200 applying in the year to June 2017, up 44% on the previous year.

The sharpest rise in applications was among Germans, whose applications jumped from 797 in the year to June 2016 to 2,338 in the year to June 2017.

The number of Italians opting for citizenship rose from 1,109 to 2,950 for the same period, while the number of Spanish almost tripled from about 500 to approximately 1,400.

The biggest jump in percentage terms was among Finnish people, although the volume of applicants was small at 220 – a jump of 255% on the previous year.

Half of the 28,502 applications made in the year after the Brexit vote were made on residency grounds according to the figures provided by the Home Office under the Freedom of Information Act.

A further 6,839 applications were made in the same period on behalf of minors, up 77% on the previous year and more than double the 2014-15 figure.

Figures provided by the Home Office showing the grounds on which individuals applied for citizenship in the year after Brexit compared with previous years

The looming divorce between the EU the UK appears to have consolidated many continental relationships, with a sharp rise in EU nationals applying for citizenship through marriage. Numbers were more than double those recorded in each of the two years before the referendum, standing at 4,342.

Italian, French and German citizenship applications more than trebled in three years.

The uncertainty over Brexit has led to record numbers of EU27 nationals living in Britain trying to secure their status. Recent Home Office figures show that 168,913 permanent residence documents were issued in 2017, the highest ever number and twice the 65,068 issued the previous year.

More recent headline figures from the Home Office show the number of citizenship applications for British citizenship from EU27 nationals has not dimmed: in the full year 2017 there were 38,528 applications, two-and-a-half times the 2016 figure (15,460).

Compared with overall numbers of EU citizens living in the UK, those opting for British citizenship remains very small. Latest ONS data shows there are 907,000 Polish-born citizens in the UK, 299,000 Germans, 220,000 Italians, 164,000 French and 157,000 Spanish.

Applications for citizenship through marriage were highest among Polish, German and Italian nationals

Just over 15,000 of the citizenship applications made in the year after the Brexit referendum were made on the basis of residence in the UK, a 61% rise on the year before the EU referendum.

To become naturalised, EU citizens need to have been resident in the UK for five years if the application is being made on residence grounds. Naturalisation costs £1,282.

Peter Schrank on Philip Hammond and austerity – cartoon

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Peter Schrank on Philip Hammond and austerity – cartoon

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Sadiq Khan reads out racist tweets in call for tighter tech regulation

London mayor tells SXSW event that online abuse puts BAME people off political careers

Sadiq Khan has revealed he was called a “muzzie terrorist” and faced death threats in a string of racist social media messages that he warned could put black, Asian and minority ethnic people off a career in politics.

The mayor of London used a speech in the US to read out six abusive tweets, saying he “could go on and on”, as he accused the government of a “dereliction of duty” for leaving big technology companies unregulated.

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Tory links to Russia and Saudis run deep. So where’s the outrage? | Owen Jones

Never mind ‘Corbyn the spy’, our governing party pockets millions from regimes that back extremism – and gets away with it

The Conservative party is in the pocket of foreign powers that represent a threat to the national security of Britain. It is a grotesquely under-reported national scandal, lost amid a hysterical Tory campaign to delegitimise the Labour party with false allegations of treason. If Labour had received £820,000 from Russian-linked oligarchs and companies in the past 20 months – and indeed £3m since 2010 – the media outrage would be deafening. But this is the Tory party, so there are no cries of treachery, of being in league with a hostile foreign power, of threatening the nation’s security.

When questioned about the Russian donations to the Tory party, the chancellor, Philip Hammond, pointedly refused to return the money. “There are people in this country who are British citizens, who are of Russian origin,” he protested. “I don’t think we should taint them, or should tar them, with Putin’s brush.” How noble: a Tory challenging the demonisation of migrants.

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Downbeat reports take shine off UK chancellor’s upbeat message

A chorus of downbeat reports on the health of the British economy published on Monday presents a sharp contrast to the chancellor Phillip Hammond’s spring statement message that there is “light at the end of the tunnel”.

Credit card company Visa said spending on cards fell again in February, dropping 1.1%, and that the first quarter of 2018 was on track to be the “worst on record”. It said spending by consumers had fallen in nine out the past 10 months.

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The number of shoppers visiting Britain’s high streets also continued to decline last month. High street analysts Springboard said footfall was down 0.5% in February but the picture was worse in shopping centres where the number of visitors was down 0.9%.

The figures will be a challenge to Hammond, who is expected to tell the House of Commons tomorrow that economic growth and productivity have improved, with the public finances in better shape than previously thought.

Surveys of business sentiment also paint a relatively gloomy picture for the economy – apart from optimism among manufacturers benefitting from improved exports and a stronger global economy.

IHS Markit, which conducted the half-yearly survey, said service providers remain much less optimistic than the post-crisis peak seen in early-2014. Services firms and the badly hit construction sector are likely to suffer modest or negative growth this year.

Against the trend, manufacturing firms expect to expand this year and employ more staff. Last week, the digger maker JCB said it plans to create 600 new jobs at its plants in Staffordshire and Derbyshire.

Tim Moore, economist at IHS Market, said: “UK business confidence has edged up since last autumn, but levels of optimism remain among the lowest recorded over the past five years. Consumer-facing areas of the UK service sector were a key area of weakness, with growth expectations curtailed by worries about the outlook for household spending.”

A breakdown of the Visa figures shows the extent to which Britons are tightening their belts. The amount spent on the physical high street fell 2.6% while households also cut back spending on recreation and culture by 6.1%.

“Britons have been in belt-tightening mode since last summer,” said Mark Antipof, chief commercial officer at Visa. “February’s cold snap certainly didn’t alleviate this situation, particularly when we shine a spotlight on high street spending, and recreation and culture in particular, which saw its biggest decline since April 2010.

“As we look ahead into March, consumer spending is at risk of posting one of the worst Q1 results on record,” he added.

A separate study by the EY Item Club found that financial services firms will suffer from weak consumer confidence and rising costs during 2018. It forecast that banks will see a slowdown in one of the most profitable areas of business – consumer credit – which will slow for the first time in five years, dropping to 3% and then 2.8% in 2019, as consumers hit the brakes on the amount of debt they hold. This is a fall from the previous highs of 6.9% growth in 2017 and 8% growth in 2016.

“Inflation is forecast to drop to 2.5% this year from 2.7% in 2017, which will ease the squeeze on household budgets, but real disposable incomes are forecast to only rise by 1.2% in 2018, constraining consumer’s spending power,” said Omar Ali, EY’s UK head of financial services.