New pension plans to be unveiled
PLANS for a radical shake-up of state pensions will be announced by the Government today amid warnings that it will be little more than a “con trick” and could affect a hard-fought deal on public sector pensions.
The Coalition’s proposals include a single flat-rate state pension, equivalent to around £144 in today’s money, to be introduced for new pensioners from 2017 in a bid to simplify the system.
Ministers said the reform will create a simple flat-rate pension set above the means test (currently £142.70) and based on 35 years of National Insurance contributions and will “hugely benefit” women, low earners and the self-employed, who under existing rules find it almost impossible to earn a full state pension.
England braced for heavy snowfall
MUCH of England will wake up to snow this morning with up to 4in (10cm) expected to fall in some areas, prompting fears of travel chaos.
The first wave of snow will hit most of the country and some eastern parts of Wales but a second heavier band will fall over central and eastern England later in the day.
The Met Office has upgraded its “cold weather action” warning to level three – one underneath a national emergency – for all of England, urging social and healthcare services to target specific actions at high-risk groups.
UK aids France in Mali struggle
A BRITISH plane loaded with military equipment and foreign troops is due to leave for Mali this morning, as Britain supports French efforts to halt an advance by rebels.
The C-17 was the first of two planes to be deployed to the west African country where insurgents affiliated with al Qaida have been pushing south from their northern base against the Mali government.
Downing Street has stressed no UK troops will engage in combat operations in Mali, but the transport planes will provide logistical assistance.
Tributes paid to murdered girl, 8
AN eight-year-old British girl who was shot dead during a holiday in Jamaica was described as “happy and playful” by her headteacher, as the investigation into her death continues.
Imani Green, from Balham, south London, was on holiday visiting relatives when she was killed in the rural village of Duncans on Friday night, in what is believed to have been a revenge attack, the Associated Press said.
Imani, who attended Fircroft Primary School in Tooting, is reported to have suffered from blood condition sickle cell anaemia and had been allowed to take an extended New Year holiday by headteacher Anne Wilson.
Traders call protest crisis summit
BELFAST traders have called a crisis meeting to discuss the downturn caused by the Union flag protests.
Talks will be held at what was once the most bombed hotel in Europe, the luxury Europa, in the city centre on Wednesday.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) estimated £15 million was lost to the economy over Christmas because some people avoided the commercial centre.