Driving tests set for massive extension with an extra 375,000 exams made available

“It’s great to hear the DVSA will be making 375,000 tests available to book from September 14th until the end of January, even if it serves as confirmation that some learners who are test-ready will now have to wait until next year to take their test.

“Coronavirus has placed many services under extreme pressure and we do understand the difficulties the DVSA has faced in re-opening test centres and then dealing with an enormous backlog of driving tests with fewer examiners available than usual.

“But, for many learners, the last few weeks have been a merry-go-round of failed attempts to book a test and hours waiting in an online queue that goes nowhere.

“There is an additional cohort of learners, whose theory test certificates either expired during lockdown or in the time since, who will now have to pay to re-take their theory test before they can even attempt to book a practical test.



Nicola Sturgeon sparks furious reaction as she hints at Aberdeen lockdown extension

Speaking during the Scottish Government’s daily briefing, Nicola Sturgeon said 220 confirmed cases in the NHS Grampian area were linked to the outbreak in Aberdeen pubs, up from 207 on Monday. In recent days, Ms Sturgeon said, there has been a decline in the number of cases in Aberdeen, suggesting restrictions being put in place were having an impact, although new cases were higher in the NHS Grampian area than in the rest of the country.

Despite the improving numbers, the First Minister said it was too early to say if the measures in Aberdeen would be lifted on Wednesday when they are reviewed.

Ms Sturgeon also said the outbreak discovered in Coupar Angus on Monday has nine confirmed cases, although she will be “very surprised” if the figure does not increase in the coming days.

Further outbreaks in Lanarkshire and Glasgow have also been identified, where eight – including five pupils from three different secondary schools – and 14 cases, some of which were pupils at the same school, respectively have been confirmed.

Both of these have been linked to indoor meetings of young people and the First Minister stressed the cluster is thought to have been transmitted outside schools.

Aberdeen residents were quick to react to the unwelcome news. 

One viewer wrote on Twitter: “Seven positive cases in Grampian, much lower than before, also lower than many other areas.

“Yet it sounds like you are still going to consider extending Aberdeen’s lockdown.

“Interesting to know how few of the seven cases are in Aberdeen itself! Lift the 5-mile ban!!”

Another one snapped: “Maybe if she visited the place she would know the difference between Aberdeen and Grampian.”

One resident pleaded: “Nicola can you please let us have a bit of normality back tomorrow in Aberdeen.

“I have a desperate little one. Who would love to have her grandparents over for a cuppa.

“Please don’t tarnish us all with the same brush. As 90 percent of us have been good.”

More to follow…



Boris Johnson’s 'strong' stance on Brexit extension saved Britain from Brussels 'trap'

Ms Hewertson told Express.co.uk that the UK fell into the European Union’s trap when Theresa May oversaw Brexit negotiations. The Conservative Party member highlighted the fact the EU has begun to budge on some of the UK’s demands as the deadline approaches as a signal that Britain is in a strong position for the remaining trade talks.

Ms Hewertson said: “I think we fell into the EU’s trap last time round when we were negotiating the transition period.

“We just kept extending it and extending and it obviously did not work.

“Finally, we have Boris who is strong and says ‘we are going to leave with no deal if you do not give us something’ and ding dong guess what we suddenly get something.

“The EU finally decided to budge a little bit, so I think we are in a really strong position now.”

READ MORE: Boris ‘trump card’ in EU talks exposed – different to predecessor May

During the same interview Emily backed Boris Johnson to secure a post-Brexit trade agreement with the European Union.

Ms Hewertson told Express.co.uk she is confident Boris Johnson’s trade talks team will be able to secure a deal with the EU before the end of December 2020.

The Conservative Party member praised the Prime Minister for his strong stance during the negotiations in comparison to his predecessor Theresa May. 

Ms Hewertson said: “I think the EU is trying to scaremonger us into thinking we may not get a deal but I am pretty confident that we will.  

“They can no longer get away with the things they did with Theresa May.”

In June 2016 the UK voted to leave the European Union. The UK officially left the European Union at the end of January this year.

Britain is currently in a transition period until the end of 2020 with the EU while the government negotiates a free trade deal with the bloc.

Boris Johnson has ruled out extending the transition period, despite the ongoing coronavirus crisis.



MOT extension date: When is my MOT due? How to check as covid extension ends

This has since been shortened as life begins to return to normal.

Since lockdown has been eased and more motorists are back on the roads, motor industry bodies have called for the MOT extension to be axed to ensure the safety of drivers, and to help garages recover from a significant drop in business.

At the beginning of May, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, Independent Garage Association and Institute of the Motor Industry rallied together to pressure the Government to change the temporary MOT rules.

With the test exemption in place, MOT volumes fell from 7.2 million in April and May a year ago to just 2.2 million in the same months of 2020 – a decline of 70 percent.

According to the MailOnline, and with one in three cars failing their MOT on average, it means there could be 1.6 million cars being driven that would have been deemed unroadworthy if tested over the previous two months.



'Brexit deal MUST be done this year!' -Labour rejects extension demands in shock statement

Michael Gove has stressed that regardless of the outcome of negotiations with the EU, the Government is determined to leave the single market and customs union on the deadline. His shadow counterpart, Rachel Reeves, appeared to side with the Chancellor for the Duchy of Lancaster on the “vital” need for a Brexit deal to be delivered. This appeared to break with Sir Keir Starmer’s previous demands for constant delays when he was Shadow Brexit Secretary under Corbyn’s Labour leadership.

Ms Reeves told the House of Commons: “It is vital that businesses and jobs are supported, and that the oven-ready deal that the country was promised is delivered upon this year.

“Yet frankly, many of us are worried about whether the oven was even turned on.”

Ms Reeves also pointed to the “extraordinary” contents of a leaked letter from cabinet minister Liz Truss that was addressed to the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and Mr Gove.

In the letter, Ms Truss raises concerns about border control post-Brexit, and expresses worry about possible smuggling between the UK and EU.

READ MORE: Labour’s Hilary Benn demands post-Brexit border plan ‘urgently’

Despite Sir Keir accepting the December deadline, notable Remainers such as Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and the Scottish Nationalist Party members petitioned the Government to change their minds.

Mr Khan broke ranks with his party and called for the Government to stop “putting dogma ahead of the national interest”.

The SNP had urged Labour and other opposition parties to back an extension to the Brexit transition period until the end of 2022.

However, the UK formally confirmed it would not seek an extension of the Brexit transition period beyond December last month, and the deadline for the request has now passed.

More to follow…



Sturgeon PANIC: Mass redundancy feared in Scotland as Boris rules out furlough extension

The First Minister called on the Treasury to extend the financial support for workers and businesses which currently supports 650,000 Scots. It comes as Unite Scotland said it was involved in redundancy consultations affecting more than 1,000 jobs at Edinburgh Airport, Scotland’s biggest transport hub.

 

Meanwhile, requests for advice on redundancy have soared by 100 per cent since February, Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) said, with one in five employment queries now concerning redundancy.

But Boris Johnson insisted it was not “healthy” for either the economy or the employees concerned to maintain the scheme beyond its planned end date in October.

The scheme will start being scaled back from August with companies expected to pay a higher share of wages while the UK government continues to subsidise 60 percent of salaries up to cap of £2,500 a month.

But Ms Sturgeon called for an extension of Treasury Support stresing support was needed to address Scotland’s “economic crisis”.


 

Ms Sturgeon added: “I have previously welcomed the UK Government’s interventions, especially the furlough scheme which has helped to preserve jobs during this period.

“But in my view it is now time to signal a further extension of Treasury support.”

“The alternative to extended support being put in place is either that businesses are forced to reopen before it is safe to do so, and of course could damage health and it could cost lives, or businesses will have to take an even bigger hit and that will cost jobs.”

But Mr Johnson said: “I’ve got to be very, very blunt with you. We’ve spent £120 billion supporting people, it’s a huge commitment and we have put our arms around people.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon fury: UK divided as Scottish leader erupts at Boris

“The best way forward for us now is to work together to beat the virus and get the economy back on its feet. We’re going to do amazing things; we’re going to build, build, build, invest massively in our country.

“But I think people need to recognise the particular restrictions that furlough places on you are not, in the long term, healthy either for the economy or for you as an employee.

“You are keeping people in suspended animation. You are stopping them from actually working. I am being absolutely frank with you, we are pushing it out until October but in the end you have got to get the economy moving.”

It comes after a new report produced by Nicola Sturgeon’s administration calls for the UK Government to produce an £80 billion UK-wide stimulus package to boost the coronavirus-hit economy and cut inequalities.

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It calls for a furlough scheme extension, or some other form of wage subsidy, for the hardest-hit sectors, indicating while the unemployment rate could still reach 10 percent in Scotland in 2020, it could have peaked at 14 percent without the furlough scheme.

It urges the government to use the cash, equivalent to 4 percent of GDP, to finance a range of actions, including cutting VAT to 15 percent for six months once lockdown ends, with a reduction to 5 percent for the hospitality sector.

Further recommendations in the Scottish Government report include cutting employers’ National Insurance contributions by 2p to reduce the cost of hiring staff.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes also requested for more financial powers from the Treasury last week.

The MSP said the government needs to borrow up to £500 million more to deal with the impact of coronavirus, as well as having greater flexibility over its capital budget.

She warns there was a £500million hole between the extra cost of the COVID-19 pandemic and the funding given to Scotland from Westminster.

Ms Forbes added: “This is one of the most significant economic crises of our generation and we desperately need the powers and the investment to reboot it.”



This is what unemployment benefits will pay without the extension of an extra $600 a week

Hundreds of unemployed Kentucky residents wait in long lines outside the Kentucky Career Center for help with their unemployment claims on June 19, 2020 in Frankfort, Kentucky.

John Sommers II/Getty Images

The financial aid that jobless workers have been receiving to shore up household income during the coronavirus pandemic is poised for a dramatic reduction in just a few weeks.

The CARES Act, a federal relief law enacted in March, provided unemployed Americans with an extra $600 a week in assistance. That federally funded supplement adds to the traditional benefits provided by states.

As a result of that policy, the average American has gotten about $980 a week from the unemployment system, according to a CNBC analysis of Labor Department data.

That’s roughly equal to the lost weekly wages for the average worker.

61% reduction

However, that supplement will end after July 31, absent an extension from Congress — which isn’t a given due to opposition from Republican lawmakers.

If it ends, benefits will decrease substantially for the nearly 31 million Americans receiving unemployment benefits.

Instead of receiving about $980 a week, the average American would get about $380 — a reduction of about 61%.

The average worker, instead of fully replacing lost wages, would replace about a third of their prior paycheck, according to a January report published by the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

The experience for workers will differ dramatically based on geography, since states vary in the generosity of their benefit payments.

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The average worker in Mississippi, the least generous state, received $213 a week in unemployment benefits before the pandemic, according to Labor Department data.

In Massachusetts, the most generous state, the average recipient got $552.

Maximum and minimum benefits

States set caps and minimum benefit amounts for weekly jobless aid. These are the lower and upper bounds that an unemployed worker can expect to get from the system.

Most states set minimums below $100 a week.

Hawaii’s minimum, the lowest of any state, will be just $5 a week if the federal $600-a-week supplement expires after July. (This low minimum relative to other states is partly attributable to looser eligibility rules, according to economists. Workers can qualify for benefits in Hawaii with a lower level of annual earnings than in other states. Meanwhile, Hawaii pays the second-highest average weekly benefit, at $542.)

Massachusetts pays unemployed workers up to $1,234 a week, the highest maximum benefit of any state.

By contrast, Mississippi has the lowest maximum among states, paying up to $235 a week.

With the extra $600 a week, jobless benefits are more generous than they’ve been at any time since the unemployment insurance system was created in the 1930s, according to labor economists.

Democrats want to extend the $600 benefit to prevent income from falling severely after July. Republicans, who believe the benefit is a disincentive to work, want to eliminate it or replace it with a different policy, like a bonus for those who find a job.

MOT extension deadline: When do you have to get your car MOTed?

Although the MOT extension will be a relief to many drivers, Karen Rotberg from BookMyGarage told Express.co.uk the MOT extension “may not be as straightforward” as you think.

She said: “With so many cars now going unchecked for over a year, it is imperative that you ensure your vehicle is safe and roadworthy, for the safety of yourself and others.

“You may also be fined £2,500, with three points on your licence, if caught driving a car deemed unsafe.”

She added: “So how do you make sure it’s safe? Around 20 percent of MOT failures are a result of the vehicle’s lights or signalling issues, other common issues are relating to the windscreen wipers, seat belts and tyre tread.

“These are quite simple to check yourself. But if you are unsure, we recommend having a mechanic check your car for you.