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Public finances 'in a worse state than expected' as farmers and farmworkers plan London protest

ritain's new finance minister Jeremy Hunt is to delay a planned reduction to the basic rate of income tax by one year after the country's fiscal watchdog warned that the public finances were in a worse state than expected, the Sunday Times has reported.

The newspaper said Hunt would put off for a year a plan to reduce the basic rate of income tax next April, to save 5 billion pounds a year. It said Hunt needed to plug a black hole in the public finances of 72 billion pounds.

Meanwhile, farmers and farmworkers from across the UK will protest in London this week to demand more government ambition on future food and farming policy.

The list of demands for the march include a right to food to be put into UK law, more government support schemes for young people and marginalised groups to enter farming, and a bigger budget for agricultural support schemes.

The march is being organised by the Landworkers’ Alliance - a union representing over 2,200 farmers and land-based workers in the UK.

Other food and agriculture organisations, including Save British Farming, the Sustain Alliance and the Nature-Friendly Farming Network, have also pledged support.

The groups also want to see the new government protect the UK’s high growing standards in upcoming trade deals, so they are not undercut by imported food grown with lower environmental and quality standards.

They fear the government's economic growth agenda will be prioritised to "the detriment of hard-won standards".

Campaigners are also calling on Defra to commit to a speedier delivery and a bigger budget for England’s Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS).

The protest will start at 12pm on 15 October in Parliament Square, with organisers promising "colourful banners, tractors, costumes and songs."

There will also be a harvest festival display and home-grown food, with speeches due to end around 5pm.

Jyoti Fernandes, the Landworkers’ Alliance policy co-ordinator and co-founder, is one of the lead organisers of the march.

“The governments in the UK aren’t doing enough to implement the kind of transition we urgently need in our food and farming systems. We need change, and we need it now," she said.

"That’s why we’re bringing consumers, farmers, growers, youth, activists, change-makers and food system workers together to march in London and demand that policymakers take action.

"We are committed to effective ELMS for a just transition to a secure food supply that doesn’t destroy the environment and are calling on the new government to increase the ELMS budget to deliver real benefits.”


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