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Portrait of the week: Rise in sick leave, more rights for renters and moving mountains

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The number of people not working due to long-term sickness rose to a record 2.5 million, many with mental sickness or back pain, according to the Office for National Statistics. Mel Stride, the Work and Pensions Secretary, said that income tax could be cut by 2p in the pound if Britons who had left the workforce during the pandemic returned to work. Pay growth in the public sector rose to 5.6 per cent, the highest rate since 2003. Pat Cullen, the general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing union, said that the Health Secretary should ‘start off in double figures’ in pay negotiations. The Bank of England expected inflation to be as high as 5 per cent by the end of the year and for the economy to continue growing, not fall into a long recession as it forecast six months ago. It raised interest rates to 4.5 per cent from 4.25 per cent. Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, had pledged when inflation was 10.1 per cent, that it would be halved by the end of the year. Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, said immigration should come down: ‘There is no good reason why we can’t train up enough HGV drivers, butchers or fruit pickers.’ The Prime Minister told farmers that 10,000 visas for agricultural workers would be added to the 45,000 available. Vodafone is to cut 11,000 jobs. Greggs the bakers saw sales rise by 17 per cent in a year.

Lord Sentamu, the retired Archbishop of York, was suspended from active ministry by the Rt Revd Helen-Ann Hartley, Bishop of Newcastle, after an inquiry found that he should have sought advice from his diocesan safeguarding adviser when he was told by a clergyman in 2013 that he had been abused in the Sheffield diocese in the 1980s.

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