‘Return to austerity’: Almost £50bn of cuts needed to fund tax breaks for rich, economists warn

Liz Truss’s government is on course to make public spending cuts of almost £50bn a year after the “unenforced error” of Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-Budget, according to top economists.

Adam Forrest www.independent.co.uk

Experts at the Resolution Foundation warned that Britain’s public sector was heading for a return to the austerity period imposed by the David Cameron-led Tory government.

If Ms Truss refuses to U-turn on her borrowing-fuelled splurge on tax cuts, the level of spending cuts will have to be “broadly the same or bigger” than then-chancellor George Osborne set out in 2010 after the banking crash, the think tank said.

The government is likely to need to announce fiscal tightening of between £37 and £47bn a year in order to meet a commitment to get debt falling by 2026-27, the Resolution Foundation warned.

Ms Truss confirmed on Thursday that she and her ministers are now looking for cuts across government – declaring that there are “plenty of areas” where taxpayers’ money could be saved.

“There are always ways that we can organise things more efficiently. What I want to make sure is that taxpayer money is focused on frontline services,” the prime minister told broadcasters.

Whitehall sources told The Independent that the Treasury had written to all departments asking them to find savings. Asked about the efficiency drive, a spokesperson said: “The British taxpayer expects government to run as efficiently and effectively as possible.”

The prospect of austerity has sparked anger among unions and campaigners, who warned the cuts to pay and services would be “an act of national vandalism and a huge betrayal of the British people”.

A group of 18 trade unions wrote to the PM demanding a “cast iron assurance” she would honour a Tory leadership campaign pledge that there would be no cuts to public services, already struggling with the impact of inflation.

“Frontline services are already at breaking point. They must not be sacrificed to make the top 1 per cent even richer,” said the letter signed by the TUC’s Frances O’Grady, Unite’s Sharon Graham and others. “We won’t allow the social fabric of this country to be destroyed.”

Mr Kwarteng has promised a “medium-term” fiscal plan on 23 November to spell out how he will balance the nation’s finances and a £45bn-a-year tax giveaway disproportionately benefiting the rich.

The Resolution Foundation said the market turmoil which has seen traders dumping government bonds had increased the UK’s debt interest costs by around £12.5bn a year by 2026-27.

Torsten Bell, the think tank’s chief executive, said the huge package of tax cuts “without any explanation of how they would be paid for” was the “biggest unforced economic policy error of my lifetime”.

Warning of “unpleasant” cuts ahead, the top economist added: “The intention may have been to emulate Margaret Thatcher – but the reality may involve looking a lot like George Osborne in the years ahead.”

The Resolution Foundation suggested that the “painful” policy choices that the Treasury would now have to consider include cutting public investment projects and abandoning the pledge to increase defence spending to 3 per cent of GDP by 2030.

The think tank said the government could consider uprating benefits and pensions by earnings instead of inflation – a 4 per cent real-terms cut. This would save £20bn over two years, but would cost a typical low-income family with two children over £1,000 a year.

NHS Providers have warned that cuts to the health service would represent a “huge setback” to a service already stretched by a decade of austerity. “NHS budgets are already severely stretched,” Miriam Deakin of the trusts’ membership body told The Independent.

Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said the prospect of NHS budget cuts was “terrifying” and would exacerbate the existing “exodus” of staff leaving after the Covid crisis.

School leaders also reacted with alarm to the prospect of a return to austerity. Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, told The Independent: “An economic policy of further cuts to public services at this point would be disastrous.”

Treasury minister Chris Philp said government departments have been asked to stick to existing spending limits during the current three-year settlement – as well as being asked to make efficiency savings.

However, Mr Philp argued on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “iron discipline” on public spending would not necessarily lead to austerity.

“If we can get economic growth going, which is our intention, it will lead to wages going up and lead to new and better jobs being created and will ultimately pay the taxes that fund public services like health, the NHS and so on,” he said.

Mr Philp suggested the government may not hike benefits in line with inflation in April 2023 as promised, while Mr Kwarteng said it was “premature for me to come to a decision on that”.

Charities warned that U-turning on a commitment to increase benefits in line with inflation would lead to disabled people “starving and freezing in their own homes”.

The Child Poverty Action Group said “unless benefits are uprated to match inflation, [children] will also become the casualties of a collapsing economy”.

Liz Truss to meet head of UK’s independent fiscal watchdog after market meltdown

Prime minister Liz Truss and chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng will meet the head of Britain’s independent fiscal watchdog today following a market meltdown triggered by the mini-budget.

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar www.independent.co.uk

In an unusual move, Ms Truss and chancellor Kwarteng will meet the chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) Richard Hughes to discuss the economic and fiscal developments.

Mr Kwarteng unveiled a string of tax cuts last week in a fiscal statement that was not accompanied by OBR forecasts. The forecaster said it had offered to prepare a draft for the new chancellor in time for the mini-budget but it was not taken up.

Now, a group of lawmakers have reportedly called for the forecast to be released immediately.

The chancellor has insisted that he is “sticking with” his mini-budget, despite it spooking markets and forcing an emergency Bank of England intervention.

Meanwhile, Tory MP Sir Charles Walker said the Conservative Party faces an existential threat after Labour surged to a 33-point lead in one poll.

He suggested the Conservatives would “cease to exist as a political party” if the 33-point lead is repeated at a general election.

Latest Opinion Polls 

Conservatives currently tanking

www.politics.co.uk (Extracts)

The Result Of A General Election Today

In the first three weeks of the Liz Truss premiership, the Labour lead over the Conservatives has grown considerably and is now trending at 11.2%.  This 11.2% average lead relates to a period before Chancellor Kwarsi Kwarteng’s ‘mini budget’ on September 23 had a chance to feed into the opinion poll numbers.

Polling averages extrapolated in the three weeks running up to 27 September place Labour on 42.7%, the Conservatives on 31.5%, and the Liberal Democrats on 11.2%.

If a General Election was held today, and the public vote reflected that average polling position, this would likely lead to the following composition of the House of Commons:

The result of a general election is projected as a hung parliament with Labour as the largest party. but some 8 seats short of an outright majority. 

Latest Polls

YouGov (25 September) which placed Labour on 45%, the Conservatives on 28%, and the Liberal Democrts on 9%.

Redfield and Winton (25 September) which placed Labour on 44%, the Conservatives on 31%, and the Liberal Democrts on 11%.

Ipsos (22 September) which placed Labour on 40%, the Conservatives on 30%, and the Liberal Democrts on 13%.

Public Opinion since the 2019 General Election

In the aftermath of the 2019 General Election, the Conservative party enjoyed a healthy lead in the opinion polls. With the Conservatives polling over 50%, this lead briefly surpassed 20% at the beginning of the Covid  pandemic in March and April 2020.

In late February 2022, and prior to the Russian invastion of Ukraine, there were some tentative signs that the Conservative position had recovered slightly from its early 2022 lows.

With the Russian invasion of Ukraine heavily dominating the UK news agenda, the position of the UK’s political parties became somewhat becalmed during the spring on 2022 with no notable movements in the polls.

However amidst mounting pressure on Boris Johnson’s position in late June, and the drawn out nature of his resignation in early July, the Labour party  once extended their lead over the Conservatives in the polls.  This lead was trending at around 8% at the point that Liz Truss became prime minister in September 2022.

Rather than experience a new prime ministerial bounce, in September 2022, the picture was not positive for Liz Truss.  In the first three weeks of her premiership, the Labour lead over the Conservatives extended to 11%.

Pollsters showed that Liberal Democrat voting intention during most of this Parliament was constant at around the 9% mark with only temporary uplifts above this point.  In the autum of 2022, the party was polling around the 11%.

Dear Colleague

There are reports that Kwasi Kwarteng is writing to various MP WhatsApp groups for support.

Owl imagines the “Dear Colleague” message:

Dear Colleague,

I understand your concerns that you may lose your seats at the next election, but we have to make tough choices if I am to stay Chancellor and Liz as PM.

Our priority is to grow the economy so that everyone can get a slice of a bigger cake while those at the top enjoy the cream.

The only way to do this is by cutting taxes at the top, and that is what we must deliver. There is no alternative.

If necessary, we must fund this by reviewing government expenditure, even the inflation uplift on benefits. Nothing is off the table. 

We will show markets that our plan is sound. At the moment it is all based on ideology and my team of teenage Spads need to flesh out the details. When we have a plan, of course we will ask the OBR to demonstrate that it is sound, credible and will work to drive growth. Their existence as an independent organisation will depend on it.

We need your support to do this as the only people who win if we divide will be ordinary people, rather than the rich who are the only ones driving the economy and funding our party.

I am always available for a meeting and I hope we can engage dynamically in the coming weeks.

Black Wednesday 2022 – not to be confused with Black Wednesday 1992

Though both occurred under Tory Government. [1992 is when we were forced out of the ERM]

Since the “fiscal event”, without any figures to back its credibility, was announced last week we have had a currency crash, veiled criticism from the IMF to row back, followed by bond rate surges yesterday that threatened to bankrupt our pensions funds. The Bank’s of England’s emergency action, effectively printing money, will now add to inflation.

Now pick up form this extract from www.theguardian.com

“It is at this point, one hopes, that reality dawns on Tory MPs that the current crisis has very little to do with a strong dollar or global forces, or any of the other excuses that have been trotted out in recent days. The Bank had to intervene to save the government from the consequences of its own actions.

While forced selling by pension funds intensified the action, the deeper turmoil comes by markets’ brutal verdict on Liz Truss and Kwarteng’s £45bn package of tax cuts. It was investors – not the International Monetary Fund, say – who first judged that the chancellor’s plan is no way to manage the public finances when you are borrowing potentially huge sums to underwrite a blank-cheque guarantee on household energy bills for two years.

The supposed prize – an improvement to 2.5% in the UK’s growth rate – is years away, if it arrives at all. Meanwhile, inflation is 9.9% and the current account deficit, at 8%, is wide. Investors may tolerate a few economic unorthodoxies, but they’ll demand stiff terms to fund an economic gamble that simply looks reckless. That is the source of the surge in gilt yields. It flows from Downing Street.

So, too, does the incidental damage to the Bank’s own credibility, Only last week it was planning to sell gilts into the market – not buy them – under its quantitative tightening programme (or QT, the reversal of the easing programme of the last decade). Now QT has been delayed until the end of next month, which feels like a hope rather than an expectation. The Bank had no real choice in the matter, but confusion is unmistakable.

Meanwhile, dysfunction continues in the mortgage market as lenders yank fixed-interest offers. That part of the tale should also sound alarm bells on the backbenches. Panic over mortgage costs is now water-cooler and pub talk.

The way out of the mess must involve U-turns. Even after the Bank’s temporary yield-suppression operation, Kwarteng’s programme looks unaffordable. The size of the borrowing coming down the track is too large, and the risks to households’ and businesses’ borrowing costs are too great. Kwarteng pitched his plans as a way to avoid a deep recession, but the market’s reaction to his fiscal pyrotechnics has created the risk of a deeper one.

A couple of contenders for U-turns can be read from the IMF’s withering assessment. A minor tweak would reinstate the 45p income tax rate for high-earners as a signal of prudence. A bigger move would trim the energy support programme to six months and introduce a targeted scheme thereafter.

But if Kwarteng is determined to charge down his original track (he seems to be), he should hammer down his new fiscal rules and announce them soon. 23 November, the intended date, is too far away. The same goes for the Office for Budget Responsibility’s assessment of the state of the public finances. Let the budgetary watchdog bark.

A more dramatic U-turn lies in the hands of those same Tory MPs who must digest two hard facts. In the space of four trading days, a Tory “fiscal event” has led to a major intervention by the central bank to avert a “material risk” to financial stability and a run on pension funds. And none of this would have happened if Rishi Sunak had won the leadership contest. Kwarteng, surely, cannot survive another day like Wednesday.”

Right now it appears that Truss and Kwarteng are intent on “doubling down” by finding cuts in government spending including from benefits payments and state pension inflation upgrades.

In other words benefit claimants and pensioners are going to be expected tp pay for the reduction of top rate tax from 45% to 40%.

This is not what the IMF expects. There will be more fireworks.

EDDC vote to conduct independent investigation into jailed paedophile Humphreys

A quick impression of last night’s extraordinary consultative meeting.

Back in April the council voted unanimously, with one abstention, to conduct an investigation into how Humphreys continued in his council roles, with access to children, and then became an honorary Alderman after his arrest. 

The Chief Executive, Mark Williams, was asked to advise how this could be done. So it may surprise readers to know that five months later the Council met again last night to vote on whether or not to conduct an investigation.

In the interim, Mark Williams had decided to advise the council against taking any such action because, in his opinion, all that was to be known was known and such an exercise would be a waste of taxpayers money. Just how Mark Williams can make such a categorical statement hasn’t been revealed. He kept repeating the mantra that the council must be “Fact specific”.

This “foot dragging” led Cllr Jess Bailey to take the unusual step of raising a ”requisition order” to appoint, after research, a specific independent investigation organisation, Verita, to conduct one (referred to as Option A). For a requisition order to be put to the vote it has to be supported by nine councillors. 

Her move prompted Mark Williams to come up with an alternative (Option B) which would involve commissioning a legal practice to undertake the investigation. However, his first recommendation to the council was to drop the notion of conducting an investigation, but if the council rejected this advice then it should consider his Option B as an alternative to Option A.

After debate, the council voted to conduct an independent investigation by 27 votes to 9 with 5 abstensions. There were quite a few apologies.

The council then turned its attention to the two options put before it.

During this, in what seemed a surprising move to Owl, the Chief Executive started to sow confusion by spewing out other options such as conducting an external audit or even getting asking the Secretary of State to conduct a review through a process whereby the council reported itself for misconduct!

During discussion yet more options emerged such as using Ofsted, the option recently adopted by Devon County Council. 

When put to the vote Council members voted:

22 votes to choose Option A, zero votes for Option B with 18 abstentions.

So the option concocted by the Chief Executive was completely rejected. 

Owl was left with the overwhelming impression that the council has been badly let down by Mark Williams, Chief Executive.

In April he was asked to advise how an independent investigation could be conducted. This was the moment when he could have come up with the idea, that Devon County Council came up with a couple of weeks ago, of using Ofsted or indeed any of the other options he suddenly threw into the pot last night. But he didn’t, he left a void and failed to give any constructive advice other than an investigation is unnecessary and a waste of money.

We know the debate was watched by one of the victims. He very courageously gave an introductory speech as a member of the public. Special arrangements had been made so that he could do this anonymously. He spoke about how his life had been wrecked, how important it was for his rehabilitation to be heard and how an investigation would help him.

As Cllr Eleanor Rylance put it: Humphreys weaponised his role as a councillor, later an Alderman, to elevate his status in society to put him into a position of being beyond reproach. He used it to intimidate his victims.

Some councillors were close to tears whilst making their contributions during debate. But, watching the debate, the victim may have been left with the impression that a significant “establishment” barrier lurks in the background.

Liz Truss’ honeymoon cancelled as pound plummets and UK borrowing costs soar

Not sure it ever started – Owl

Bank of England forced to issue emergency statement after UK leader’s mini-budget triggers market turmoil.

Esther Webber, Emilio Casalicchio www.politico.eu 

LIVERPOOL, England — As an inexperienced leader taking charge of a country in crisis, Liz Truss knew she needed to hit the ground running this month.

But three weeks into her fledgling premiership, the new U.K. prime minister finds herself scrambling to stay ahead of events as last Friday’s tax-cutting mini-budget spooked financial markets, sending Britain’s borrowing costs soaring and the pound tumbling to an all-time low.

“If you start going off on a dangerous tangent,” one former Tory Cabinet minister mused, “the markets will intervene.”

And intervene they did. The pound fell to a record low against the dollar Monday morning as markets reacted to the biggest package of tax cuts in 50 years, a plan that raised expectations borrowing will surge.

Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng was forced to issue an emergency statement late Monday, promising a fresh package of supply-side reforms over the coming weeks and a fully costed “fiscal plan” on November 23 to get U.K. debt levels falling over the medium term.

Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey offered no immediate rates rise, but warned the bank’s monetary committee “will not hesitate to change interest rates as necessary” to push down double-digit inflation. The pound rallied somewhat later in the day, but nowhere near enough to recover recent losses.

The economic turmoil set nerves jangling on the Conservative backbenches, with MPs fearing their party’s long-held reputation for sound economic management is now at serious risk. Traditionally the Tories have found political success in painting their Labour opponents as high-spending and economically illiterate.

“[I’m] very worried,” said one of the dozens of Tory MPs who backed Truss’ opponent, Rishi Sunak, in the summer-long leadership contest. “It’s the effect on interest rates that scares the bejeezus out of me. If you think things are bad now, just wait till we see home repossessions.”

Such trepidation about Truss’ approach is commonplace on the Tory backbenches. The new PM entered Downing Street three weeks ago in a precarious political position, having failed to secure support from the majority of her own MPs in the parliamentary stage of the leadership race.

Her friends and critics alike suggested she may only have two or three weeks to prove to the party she has what it takes to lead the country through a time of economic crisis. 

But while a multibillion-pound energy bailout announced on Truss’ third day in office went down reasonably well, she did not get the chance to sell it to the country as her planned agenda was overtaken by the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Her first big appearance on the world stage then fell somewhat flat after she was offered a graveyard 9 p.m. slot for her speech at the U.N. General Assembly. And her domestic position appears to have weakened further in the wake of last week’s much-hyped mini-budget. 

“It’s worse than Black Wednesday,” said another Sunak-backing Conservative MP., referring to the infamous Sterling crisis of September 1992. “This is self-inflicted and without a mandate, whereas at least [Black Wednesday] was perceived as a bid to manage a crisis.”

Another MP said: “This is dangerous territory … What the PM hasn’t realized is that any gains made by the tax cuts will be more than outweighed by increased mortgage payments.”

Nor is disquiet in the Tory ranks confined to Truss’ sworn opponents.

One former minister who backed her in the leadership race said the decision not to publish official economic forecasts alongside last week’s tax cuts was “a bit of an own goal.”

“The Chancellor should have set out the fiscal position last week,” the MP said. “Markets hate uncertainty.”

Part of the markets’ reaction has been sparked by the absence of any clues from the government about where they might make spending cuts to reduce levels of borrowing.

“You can’t just borrow your way to a low-tax economy,” former Tory Chancellor George Osborne told Channel 4 News. “Fundamentally, the schizophrenia has to be resolved — you can’t have small-state taxes and big-state spending.”

Some fear, in addition, that Truss’ top team lacks the savvy to deal with multiple economic crises. 

“They look lightweight to me,” said a former Downing Street aide of the new-look No. 10 operation. “There’s not a lot of experience in there.”  

The former adviser questioned new chief of staff Mark Fulbrook’s organizational skills and highlighted the relative youthfulness of many of his Downing Street colleagues.

Others heaped fresh criticism on Kwarteng’s decision to dismiss Tom Scholar, the long-serving top official at the Treasury, as one of his first acts in office. 

“To fire your only official with serious experience of crisis management and then precipitate a crisis a fortnight later brings postmodernism to a new level,” tweeted former Treasury Permanent Secretary Nick Macpherson.

Typically a new prime minister can at least expect a significant, if temporary, poll bounce on entering office — but no such phenomenon appears on the cards for Truss, with the Labour Party maintaining a 12-point lead.

Yet Truss’ supporters are urging their colleagues to be patient, arguing that party members picked someone offering a radical change for a reason.

One Truss-backing minister said: “The dollar is strong, and we have just seen a significant change in economic policy. It is inevitable that would have an impact on trading. Things will settle when the markets get used to it.”

And another Sunak-supporting MP insisted that excitable Westminster chatter of a further leadership challenge so soon after the ouster or Boris Johnson was overblown.

“There’s a huge amount of ill feeling,” the Tory MP said. “People are angry. But I think self-preservation is a much more motivating factor.

“We haven’t got any choice. We have got to get behind this. Governments who get things wrong tend to lose elections but governments that are split definitely lose elections.”

IMF says UK fiscal measures will ‘likely increase inequality,’ urges rethink

A couple of weeks ago Owl asked the question: are the Tories on course to crash the economy? 

Regrettably, we now know the answer is YES, and we are all going to suffer.

The IMF usually reserves criticism of this sort for “basket case” economies.

Seems hard to see the economy growing when underlying borrowing costs are twice that of Germany. Standby for consequences on mortgages and house prices. Where is the party of “sound money” – Owl 

www.reuters.com 

WASHINGTON, Sept 27 (Reuters) – The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday took aim at new British financial plans that have roiled markets, warning that “large and untargeted fiscal packages” would likely increase inequality in Britain and could undermine monetary policy.

In its first comments on plans by Britain’s new finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng, which have sent sterling and bonds into free fall, the IMF urged UK authorities to consider providing more targeted support to families and business instead of sizable tax cuts and sharply higher government spending.

“We are closely monitoring recent economic developments in the UK and are engaged with the authorities,” an IMF spokesperson said, in response to a query from Reuters after the British pound hit an all-time low amid spiking market concerns.

“Given elevated inflation pressures in many countries, including the UK, we do not recommend large and untargeted fiscal packages at this juncture, as it is important that fiscal policy does not work at cross purposes to monetary policy,” the spokesperson said in the IMF’s first public reaction.

Kwarteng, who on Friday unveiled a budget aimed at growing the economy by cutting taxes and sharply increasing government borrowing, responded to market mayhem by promising to roll out medium-term debt-cutting plans on Nov. 23.

The global lender understands that Britain’s “sizable fiscal package” was intended to help residents deal with higher energy prices and to boost growth via tax cuts and supply measures, but such measures could put fiscal policy at cross purposes with monetary policy, the spokesperson said.

“The nature of the UK measures will likely increase inequality,” it added.

Kwarteng’s Nov. 23 budget would provide an “early opportunity for the UK government to consider ways to provide support that is more targeted and reevaluate the tax measures, especially those that benefit high-income earners,” the spokesperson added.

Britain was forced to apply for an IMF loan of nearly $4 billion during the 1976 financial crisis, with IMF negotiators insisting on deep cuts in public expenditure at the time.

IMF officials have warned repeatedly in recent months of the need to carefully calibrate fiscal and monetary policy as central bankers raise interest rates across the globe to get inflation under control.

Meanwhile the cost of borrowing increases:

10 year gilt yield is now higher than that of Greece and Italy and more than twice the equivalent borrowing cost for Germany.

.

Former Ofsted inspector to lead independent Devon County Council review into failure to act over Humphreys

An ex-Ofsted inspector will lead an independent review into how Devon County Council failed to properly deal with concerns made in 2014 about a former school governor from Exmouth who was later jailed for historic sex offences, writes local democracy reporter, Ollie Heptinstall.

[Rather undermines EDDC Chief Executive Mark Willliams’ criticism of Cllr Jess Bailey’s suggestion that a specialist investigative company, rather than a “Legal 500 recommended firm of solicitors” should conduct the EDDC investigation. One wonders whether DCC is “sufficiently sighted on the legal framework, issues and implications of this issue”, to quote again from MW. Horses for courses? – Owl]

Watch the EDDC debate on whether or not to conduct an investigation on the EDDC Youtube channel 6.00pm tonight.

eastdevonnews.co.uk 

John Humphreys, who also previously served as an East Devon district Councillor and mayor of Exmouth, is just over a year into a 21-year prison sentence for sexually assaulting two teenage boys in the early 1990s and early 2000s.

It was revealed in June that the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) had raised concerns about him in 2014, when allegations had already been made to the police.

But Devon County Council chose not to take any action after officers discussed the case with police, a decision the council’s cabinet member for schools, Councillor Andrew Leadbetter (Conservative, Wearside and Topsham) has admitted was wrong, and that it should have shared the concerns more widely.

In his written response in June to county and district councillor Jess Bailey, Cllr Leadbetter said: “I can confirm that the local authority designated officer (LADO) received a referral via the NSPCC in 2014. As part of the LADO process, our officers discussed the case with the police.

“The police were already aware of the individual and the allegations that had been made and advised us that there was not enough evidence to investigate further, and it was agreed that no further action would be taken.

“We have evaluated the response that was made in 2014 and concluded that we should have held a multi-agency meeting to share information and consider what, if any, next steps could be taken.”

After previously confirming the investigation would be undertaken, the council has now revealed it will be carried out by experienced social care practitioner and former Ofsted inspector Mike Ferguson.

Since 2018, he has worked as an independent children’s social care consultant, undertaking practice reviews with a range of local authorities.

Work has begun on the review and is expected to be completed later in the autumn.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) has also been looking into how Humphreys – despite his 2016 arrest – was allowed to carry on in his role as Councillor until May 2019, then awarded the honorary title of alderman later that year.

Later this week (Wednesday, September 28) EDDC will decide whether to conduct a formal investigation into why Humphreys was not removed from his position sooner.