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BREAKING U.K BUSINESS REPORT: Shopping With Cash Rises For First Time In A Decade

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AceNewsDesk – Cash use has grown for the first time in 10 years as shoppers keep a close eye on their budgets while prices rise, retailers have said.

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Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Dec.07: 2023: By Kevin Peachey and Charlotte McDonald: BBC Business News: TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link https://t.me/+PuI36tlDsM7GpOJe

Cash
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The British Retail Consortium said 19% of purchases were made with notes and coins last year, echoing a report by banks showing a slight rebound.

The figures come as the UK’s financial watchdog has proposed new rules to help maintain access to cash.

Ministers say banks will be fined if money cannot be withdrawn or deposited.

Under government rules, free withdrawals and deposits will need to be available within one mile for people living in urban areas.

In rural areas, where there are concerns over “cash deserts”, the maximum distance is three miles.

Shoppers’ choices

Cash was used in 19% of transactions last year, according to retailers, up from 15% the previous year. Until 2015, notes and coins were used in more than half of transactions and, while card use now dominated, cash still had its benefits.

The consortium said consumers were budgeting carefully to try to cope with cost of living pressures, and there was also a “natural return” for cash after it slumped during the pandemic.

Its payments policy adviser, Hannah Regan, said: “We are now seeing a return to many of the pre-pandemic trends in payments, including smaller but more frequent purchases, and a slight return of cash payments. 

“Unfortunately, what has not changed, is the ever-increasing scale of fees paid by retailers in order to accept card payments.”

In September, banking trade body UK Finance also reported that cash use had risen for the first time in a decade, pointing to the financial impact of rising prices.

But it said it expected cash use to decline over the coming years, once the current financial squeeze had eased.

UK Finance said nearly 22 million people only used cash once a month or not at all last year.

However, about five million people still rely on cash and there has been pressure to ensure access is still available as bank branches and ATMs shut.

Among a string of closures announced last week, was the final bank in Richmond, North Yorkshire – part of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s constituency – which will be replaced with a shared banking hub.

The Treasury wants to maintain the current level of coverage of free access to cash, through ATMs or face-to-face services, but says that could be diluted as cash use falls.

A voluntary arrangement is currently in place which means every High Street should have free access to cash within 1km.

The UK’s financial watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority, (FCA) proposed new additional rules on Thursday requiring banks and building societies to assess and plug gaps in local cash provision.

The FCA’s consultation document showed that in the two years to the first quarter of 2023, 1,391 bank and building society branches closed, as did 2,176 free-to-use ATMs. 

Under the new rules, designated firms will be required to look at gaps in access to cash across local communities and act if necessary. In their assessments, lenders will need to take into account factors such as transport links and the age of the local population. 

The FCA wants to prevent people and businesses from facing unreasonable costs to access their money, which could be through charges, travel costs or time.

Lenders will be required to provide “reasonable” additional cash services to fill gaps where assessments show that there is, or will be, a big local gap. They must also ensure they do not close cash facilities, including bank branches and ATMs, until those extra services are available.

Sheldon Mills, executive director of consumers and competition at the FCA, said: “We know that, while there is an increasing shift to digital payments, over three million consumers still rely on cash – particularly people who may be vulnerable.” 

He added that the new rules outlined under the proposals would “help manage the pace of change and ensure that people can continue to access cash if they need it”.

The plans follow new powers granted to the regulator by the Financial Services and Markets Act 2023, although they will not enable the FCA to prevent bank branches from closing.

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BREAKING U.K MET POLICE REPORT: Just Stop Oil Protests Have Cost Taxpayers Almost Twenty Million

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AceBreakingNews – The Met Police has asked Just Stop Oil (JSO) to “reach out and speak to us” after revealing policing the campaign group’s protests has cost almost £20m.

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Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Dec.07: 2023: BBC U.K News: TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link https://t.me/+PuI36tlDsM7GpOJe

File image from November 2022 showing JSO protesters marching down The Strand
The force says the time it has spent on JSO equates to roughly 300 officers taken off frontline policing each day

The force said the time it had spent on the group equated to roughly 300 officers being taken off frontline policing each day.

It added JSO had “refused to engage” with police when planning protests.

JSO said it would continue its actions until “steps are taken to prevent the extraction of new oil and gas”.

Hundreds of protests have been held since the group’s first demonstration in 2022.

As well as marching on roads, JSO activists have disrupted events including The Open golf, Wimbledon, the Ashes, the London Pride March and the Chelsea Flower Show: Here’s More Below:

Cdr Kyle Gordon, the senior officer responsible for planning the Met’s response to the latest round of JSO’s protests, said:

: “£20m from the public purse is a lot of money. I would much, much prefer to be using that within communities.

“These officers should be responding to local communities and dealing with local issues instead of being taken away to police Just Stop Oil protests.”

He added:

“ When [JSO] talk about slow marches, it is in everything other than name an attempt to block the road and cause maximum disruption to people right across London.

“Our desire is that Just Stop Oil come forward and speak with us, so we can actually work with them.

“We absolutely understand and support the fundamental right to protest within a democratic society, but what we’ve got to do is balance that right with the rights of everybody else who is using this city.”

A spokesperson for JSO said the group had written to Sir Mark Rowley, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, about new oil and gas licensing in October but had had no response.

“The police must know that unless steps are taken to prevent the extraction of new oil and gas, they will be on the frontlines of dealing with social breakdown and mass civil unrest,” the spokesperson added.

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PRESS RELEASE GOV.U.K REPORT: Deputy Prime Minister Full Speech On Cyber Operations Below

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AceBreakingNews – The Deputy Prime Minister delivered a speech on cyber operations.

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Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Dec.07: 2023: TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link https://t.me/+PuI36tlDsM7GpOJe

Of all the risks that this country faces… there are none that are evolving more rapidly than those in the cyber domain.

More actors…

Have more sophisticated tools…

To target more people…

Than ever.

Protecting the public from cyber attack is a matter of the utmost importance.

Let’s be clear what’s being targeted here.

The critical services that government delivers:

Our public finances… 

Our roads and railways… 

Our schools…

Our health service…

Our armed forces… 

Even the heart of central government itself.

Of all the vaults that cyber criminals are desperate to crack into…

… this one contains some of the greatest rewards.

That’s why we see so many attempts to breach our digital defences.

Last year, 40 per cent of the attacks addressed by the National Cyber Security Centre were against the public sector.

In a world where the new frontline is online…

…the people in this room are manning the barricades to keep us safe and secure…

… and for that I want to say thank you.

Despite the challenges we face, our cyber defences are stronger than ever. 

Since it was published two years ago, the Government Cyber Security Strategy has been a game-changer. 

Work is well underway to ensure that government’s most critical functions are significantly hardened to cyber attack.

And we have established ambitious targets that will see all government organisations made resilient to known vulnerabilities and common attack methods.

Through GovAssure – which I launched in April – we have transformed the oversight of governmental cybersecurity…

And the new ‘Government Cyber Coordination Centre’ – better known as ‘GC3’ is bringing together a community of cyber defenders from across government… 

…sharing best practice…

… and showing that a “whole of government approach” is not a slogan, it’s a reality. 

Working together with the National Cyber Advisory Board… (which I Chair)…

…and of course the National Cyber Security Centre.

All of you play a crucial role in iterating the strategy…

… and ensuring it is implemented right across Government.

Your work never stops… because the risk of attack never stops.

The threats we face are increasing and the nature of those threats is evolving.

Technologies are developing at an exponential rate…

…and have lowered the bar for hostile actors – states and criminals.

The biggest cyber threats are not just to our public services but the democratic means by which we deliver them.

Some states are likely to be harnessing significantly more sophisticated technology to sow confusion and dissension and chaos in our society. 

Malicious actors continue to target high profile people within the political process. 

This is not an abstract possibility. We have already seen it… 

In Ukraine – with deep-fakes of President Zelensky…

In the US – where Iranian hackers have been indicted for undermining voter confidence and sowing discord…

And here in the UK – with our Electoral Commission targeted by a complex cyber attack.

As I warned at CYBERUK in Belfast in April…

…the greatest risks still emanate from the “usual suspects”…

…China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia. 

But they are increasingly using ‘Wagner-style’ sub-state hackers to do their dirty work. 

Today in concert with our Five Eyes and Euro-Atlantic partners….

I can tell you that a unit within the Russian Federal Security Service, known as Centre 18, has been behind sustained hostile cyber operations…

…aimed at interfering in parts of the UK’s democratic processes…

This has included targeting members of parliament…

…Civil servants, think tanks, journalists, and NGOs…

…through a group commonly known as Star Blizzard. 

This group, operated by FSB officers, has also selectively leaked and amplified information designed to undermined trust in politics, both in the UK and in like minded states.

A senior representative of the Russian government has been summoned to the Foreign Office this morning and appropriate sanctions have been levelled.

Our political processes and institutions will continue to endure in spite of these attacks.

But they serve to prove that the cyber threat posed by the Russian Intelligence Services is real and serious. 

It is a stark reminder that…

as we in government develop our capabilities…

…so do our adversaries, and those who do their bidding.

We are in a cyberspace race…

…them – to develop the tools to do us harm…

…us – to build the defences needed to protect against their attacks. 

Next year, 3 billion people in 40 countries will head to the polls …

… and it is a fact that hostile state actors will continue to seek to undermine these collective expressions of democracy…

…because they fear the freedoms they represent.

We must – all of us – do all we can to resist.

There are two main ways in which we can get ahead:

Strengthening our cyber security systems…

…and improving our skills. 

First, our systems.  

It wasn’t that long ago that the government was still using fax machines. 

I worked for the administration that helped to bring Whitehall into the digital age…

…and made our services “digital by default”.

The challenge is to make those digital systems “secure by design”…and to embed effective cyber security practices into our digital delivery.

That’s why I am announcing today that we will make security everyone’s responsibility…

…and make “secure by design” mandatory for central government organisations.

This approach is already inspiring our partners around the world…

…and, like our earlier digital revolution, is likely to be emulated around the world. 

Your role in embedding this approach at home will be crucial.

Then there is the question of skills.  

In this room we have a wealth of deep technical expertise…

…and we have the ability to share and collaborate with our international partners. 

But we need the experts of the future to be coming up, through that pipeline, to meet the challenges of the future.

In the UK, as around the world, the shortage of cyber skills affects both the public and private sectors. 

It is estimated that we have a shortfall of around 14,000 professionals….

…and that shortfall is particularly stark in the public sector.

As one of the largest employers of cyber security experts, the government’s actions can make a real difference to the makeup of the national profession.

So we have launched apprenticeship and fast stream programmes focused specifically on finding and developing  cyber talent.

This is the new frontline. 

And we must form a united front…

…government, business, academia, individuals, all coming together to pre-empt and ward off these risks.

Not just “whole of government” – but “whole of society”. 

It is what we have that our adversaries and their agents lack: unity. 

And there are huge opportunities in that…

…particularly for our entrepreneurs and innovators.

They will develop the defensive technologies that will protect not just this country… but the world. 

Britain has the opportunity to lead … in tech, in AI and in cyber…

…because the best place in the world to do business must also be the safest place in the world to do business…

…and together we can make that a reality. 

Thank you.

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PRESS RELEASE GOV.U.K REPORT: BBC Licence Fee Review Launched As Action Taken To Ease Rises Up April 24 To 88p PCM

AceBreakingNews – BBC licence fee review launched as action taken to ease future price rises

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Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Dec.07: 2023: TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link https://t.me/+PuI36tlDsM7GpOJe

  • Review launched into the future of the licence fee and alternative funding options, supported by a panel of leading industry experts
  • Comes as government intervenes to minimise increases to the cost of the TV licence fee for households
  • Next year’s licence fee will be £20 cheaper than it would have been had the government not acted

A review into how the BBC should be funded in the future has been launched by Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer, as new action is taken to reduce the impact of price rises on licence fee payers.

The review, supported by a panel of independent experts soon to be announced from across the broadcasting sector and wider business world, will assess a range of options for funding the BBC. It will look at how alternative models could help secure the broadcaster’s long-term sustainability amid an evolving media landscape, increased competition and changing audience behaviour, while reducing the burden on licence fee payers. 

As set out in the terms of reference published today, the review will explore the sustainability of the BBC’s current licence fee model, and build an evidence based understanding of alternative models for funding the BBC. The review will be supported by analysis which will include externally commissioned research.

The licence fee will also rise by less than previously expected next year following changes brought in by the government to minimise the cost to households. In 2022, the government froze the licence fee for two years to protect families from the sharp rise in the cost of living. It was agreed that the current annual fee of £159 would remain unchanged until April 2024, before rising by inflation for the following four years.

However, in recognition of the ongoing cost of living pressures faced by families, the government has today decided to change how the inflation-linked uplifts to the licence fee are calculated for 2024. 

This means the annual cost of a TV licence will be £169.50 from April 2024 – the equivalent of an additional 88p per month.

The previous methodology for calculating inflation was the averaged annualised October to September CPI figure of 9 per cent. The new methodology for 2024 uses the annual rate of CPI in September 2023 of 6.7 per cent, and is the approach used to calculate uplifts to benefits.

As a result of today’s announcement and the two-year freeze, from April next year the annual licence fee will be more than £20 cheaper than it would have been had the government not acted. By the end of 2024, licence fee payers will have saved £37 since 2022 due to the measures.

The decision will ensure the additional cost to licence fee payers is kept as low as possible while giving the BBC over £3.8 billion in annual licence fee funding to spend on world leading content and deliver on its mission as set out in the Charter: to serve all audiences with impartial, high-quality and distinctive output and services which inform, educate and entertain. It will also ensure S4C can maintain its unique role promoting the Welsh language and supporting our wider public service broadcasting landscape.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said:

This is a fair deal that provides value for money for the licence fee payer while also ensuring that the BBC can continue to produce world leading content.

We know family budgets are stretched, which is why we have stepped in again – following two years of licence fee freezes – to reduce this year’s increase to less than a £1 a month.

But this settlement has highlighted other challenges faced by the BBC with the changing media landscape making the battle for audiences more competitive and the number of people paying the licence fee decreasing. This raises fundamental questions as to sustainability of the current licence fee system.

So we are also launching a funding review of the BBC that will take a forensic look at the licence fee, and whether a reformed funding model could better support our national broadcaster to remain sustainable and affordable for audiences while driving growth in our creative industries. I want a thriving BBC, supported to inform, educate and entertain and this funding review will help us make sure we can deliver this for decades to come.

This announcement follows an additional £20 million the government awarded to the BBC World Service earlier this year as part of the refresh of the Integrated Review. The money, which is on top of £94 million provided annually, was to protect all 42 World Service language services over the next two years, support English-language broadcasting, and counter disinformation.

The findings of the Funding Model Review will feed into the review of the BBC’s Royal Charter ahead of its expiry at the end of 2027. Any public consultation and final decision on the BBC’s funding model will be reserved for Charter Review itself. 

Additional Notes:

  • An announcement of the membership of the expert panel for the Licence Fee Review will follow in due course. The panel will incorporate a broad range of views from experts in the broadcasting sector.
  • The black and white TV licence fee will increase from £53.50 to £57.

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PRESS RELEASE GOV.U.K REPORT: The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak Made a Speech on Illegal Migration on December 7th

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AceBreakingNews – PM’s remarks on illegal migration: 7 December 2023 in full below

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Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Dec.07: 2023: TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link https://t.me/+PuI36tlDsM7GpOJe

Today the government has introduced the toughest anti-illegal immigration law ever.

I know it will upset some people and you will hear a lot of criticism about it.

It’s right to explain why I have decided to do this.

I’m the child of immigrants… 

I understand why some people take the risk of getting into unsafe dinghies to cross open waters…

…it’s because the United Kingdom is an incredible country… it offers opportunity, hope and safety.

But the difference is… my family came here… legally.

Like most immigrants, they integrated into local communities…

…worked hard to provide for their family

…built lives and businesses, found friends and neighbours…

… and most of all… they were really proud to become British.

That feeling of pride… it cascades down the generations and grows… and that’s why you see so many children of immigrants sitting around the Cabinet table.

But it’s not a given… illegal immigration undermines not just our border controls… it undermines the very fairness that is so central to our national character.

We play by the rules. We put in our fair share. We wait our turn. 

Now if some people can just cut all that out… you’ve not just lost control of your borders… you’ve fatally undermined the very fairness upon which trust in our system is based.

That’s why this legislation is necessary. 

To deliver an effective deterrent to those who wish to come here illegally…

…to restore people’s trust that the system is fair…

… and ultimately: to stop the boats.

And so, our Bill today fundamentally addresses the Supreme Court’s concerns over the safety of Rwanda.

I did not agree with their judgement, but I respect it.

That is why I have spent the last three weeks working tirelessly to respond to their concerns…

…and to guarantee Rwanda’s safety in a new legally binding international treaty. 

The Supreme Court were clear that they were making a judgement about Rwanda at a specific moment 18 months ago…and that the problems could be remedied.  

Today we are confirming that they have been…

…and that unequivocally, Rwanda is a safe country.

And today’s Bill also ends the merry-go-round of legal challenges that have blocked our policy for too long. 

We simply cannot have a situation where our ability to control our borders…

…and stop people taking perilous journeys across the channel… 

…is held up in endless litigation in our courts. 

So this Bill gives Parliament the chance to put Rwanda’s safety beyond question in the eyes of this country’s law.

Parliament is sovereign. It should be able to make decisions that cannot be undone in the courts. 

And it was never the intention of international human rights laws…

…to stop a sovereign Parliament removing illegal migrants to a country that is considered safe in both parliamentary statute and international law.

So the Bill does include what are known as “notwithstanding” clauses.

These mean that our domestic courts will no longer be able to use any domestic or international law…

…including the Human Rights Act…

…to stop us removing illegal migrants.

Let me just go through the ways individual illegal migrants try and stay. 

Claiming asylum – that’s now blocked. 

Abuse of our Modern Slavery rules – blocked. 

The idea that Rwanda isn’t safe – blocked.

The risk of being sent on to some other country – blocked.

And spurious Human Rights claims – you’d better believe we’ve blocked those too…

…because we’re completely disapplying all the relevant sections of the Human Rights Act.

And not only have we blocked all these ways illegal migrants will try and stay…

…we’ve also blocked their ability to try and stay by bringing a Judicial Review on any of those grounds.

That means that this Bill blocks every single reason that has ever been used to prevent flights to Rwanda from taking off. 

The only, extremely narrow exception will be if you can prove with credible and compelling evidence… 

….that you specifically have a real and imminent risk of serious and irreversible harm.

We have to recognise that as a matter of law – and if we didn’t, we’d undermine the treaty we’ve just signed with Rwanda.

As the Rwandans themselves have made clear…

…if we go any further the entire scheme will collapse. 

And there’s no point having a Bill with nowhere to send people to.

But I am telling you now, we have set the bar so high…

…that it will be vanishingly rare for anyone to meet it.

And once you have been removed, you’ll be banned for life from travelling to the UK, settling here, or becoming a citizen. 

But, of course, even with this new law here at home… 

…we could still face challenges from the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

So let me repeat what I said two weeks ago – 

I will not allow a foreign court to block these flights.

If the Strasbourg Court chooses to intervene against the express wishes of our sovereign Parliament…

…I will do what is necessary to get flights off. 

And today’s new law already makes clear that the decision on whether to comply with interim measures issued by the European Court…

…is a decision for British government Ministers – and British government Ministers alone.

Because it is your government – not criminal gangs, or indeed foreign courts –who decides who comes here and who stays in our country.

Now of course, our Rwanda policy is just one part of our wider strategy to stop the boats.

And that strategy is working.

I’ve been Prime Minister for just over a year now and for the first time, small boat arrivals here are down by a third….

…even as illegal crossings of the Mediterranean have soared by 80 per cent.

Let me just repeat that: small boat arrivals here are down by a third.

To help achieve that, we’ve signed returns and co-operation agreements with France, Bulgaria, Turkey, Italy, and Georgia. 

Illegal working raids are up by nearly 70 per cent. 

50 hotels are being returned to their local communities and we are housing people in a new barge and in former military sites. 

The initial asylum backlog is down from 92,000 to less than 20,000.

We’ve returned over 22,000 illegal migrants.

And as our deal with Albania shows – deterrence works.

Last year, a third of all those arriving in small boats were Albanian. 

This year we have returned 5,000 people and cut those arrivals by 90 per cent.

And Albanian arrivals have far more recourse to the courts than anyone under this new legislation.

That’s why I’m so confident that this Bill will work.

Lord Sumption, the former Supreme Court Judge, believes this Bill will work. 

We will get flights off the ground.

We will deter illegal migrants from coming here.

And we will, finally, stop the boats.

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