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Sunday newspaper round-up: Tax rises, Vaccines, EasyJet

Rishi Sunak laid the ground for tax rises today as he said it was time to “level with people” about the problems facing the economy. The chancellor confirmed he will extend coronavirus support in Wednesday’s budget but warned that the pandemic had an “enormous hold” on the economy. Speaking on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday he said: “We do have a challenge in our public finances and if we don’t do anything, borrowing will continue to be at very high levels – even after we’ve recovered from Covid, debt will continue to rise indefinitely and that’s not a good situation.” – Sunday Times

More than 20 million people in Britain have been given their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, ministers have said. Vaccinating more than a third of all adults “across every corner of the UK” against coronavirus was a “magnificent achievement for the country”, Matt Hancock, the health secretary said. – Sunday Times

The billionaire founder of easyJet has refused to invest any more money in the budget airline amid speculation that the FTSE250-listed company plans to tap investors for more cash. There is speculation that the firm – in which Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou’s family vehicle is the largest shareholder – will ask investors for new funds for the second time within 12 months to secure its financial position. – Financial Mail on Sunday

FTSE 250 insurer Hiscox has failed to pay its first tranche of compensation to a group of businesses forced to close due to Covid-19. Sources close to the Hiscox Action Group said that just 33 of the 450 claimants it represents had received an offer from Hiscox by the agreed deadline of 4pm on Friday. A small number are understood to have been contacted after the deadline. – Sunday Times

Lender HSBC has taken additional security over some Iceland Foods’ property and various trademarks. The move comes after a wider refinancing of its debt this month, and it includes three leaseholds and three freeholds. The bank can, in case of insolvency, take over the assets, sell them and use the proceeds to repay the loan. A spokesperson for Iceland said the move was a standard refinance of existing debt, and has no impact on the wider business or finance. – Sunday Telegraph

ScottishPower Renewables has come under fire over contracts presented to landowners containing clauses that would prevent them speaking out about wind farm developments. The division of Iberdrola-owned Scottish Power wants to build two new wind farms off the Suffolk coast, and will also need to build cabling and substations onshore. The current cabling route has provoked local opposition, and campaigners claim it will mar the coast and countryside. – Sunday Telegraph

The Hinduja brothers are considering joining the Spac craze on Wall Street in a blow to the London exchange. The Hinduja family, the backers of Switch Mobility, the electric bus company chaired by former Aston Martin boss Andy Palmer, are eyeing a US float via a special purpose acquisition company, or Spac, which could value it at up to $2 billion (£1.4 billion), Sky News reported. – Sunday Times

The day after Britain announced sanctions last year against 20 Saudis involved in the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, it resumed arms sales worth more than £1 billion with the oil-rich kingdom. Now that President Joe Biden has released the US intelligence report naming Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as complicit in the Washington Post columnist’s death, Britain is under pressure to rethink its relationship with Riyadh. – Sunday Times

Pension funds could be given the green light to invest hundreds of billions of pounds in building up Britain as part of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Covid recovery plan. Discussions are being held between insurance giants and senior Ministers on allowing pension funds to invest in affordable homes, regional developments and start-up companies as part of a bold plan to help regenerate the nation. – Financial Mail on Sunday

Support for Scottish independence has dropped to 50 per cent for the first time since June last year, a new poll has shown, suggesting the civil war in the SNP has dented the campaign to break up Britain. A Survation survey of 1,000 Scots found that support for separation had fallen, losing a lead built in the past nine months that bolstered the confidence of supporters heading into May’s Holyrood elections. – Sunday Times

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