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Rwanda’s Tourism Sector On A Full Rebound Post Covid-19

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A panel discussion during WTD 2022 celebrations. Officials and players appreciated the recovery process of the tourism and hospitality sector.

Rwanda’s tourism sector is on a path to full recovery more than two years after the Covid-19 pandemic had a major impact on the sector, with more than 80 percent of the players reporting a rebound.

This was revealed on Tuesday during the celebration of World Tourism Day 2022 which was marked on September 27 at Kigali Convention and Exhibition Village (KCEV).

The event, organized by Mastercard Foundation, Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and Private Sector Tourism Chamber brought together players and stakeholders in the tourism and hospitality sector who shared their experiences.

According to Ariella Kageruka, Head of Tourism and Conservation at RDB, today more that 80% of the business in the sector which were affected by the pandemic are on a path to recovery- a development that gives a positive forecast for the industry.

“The recovery of the sector has been a deliberate effort, working on new innovations and ensuring that we remain operational in different ways. We are happy that even during the pandemic the MICE sector somehow continued to operate,” Kageruka said.

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Ariella Kageruka, head of Tourism and Conservation at RDB    

She pointed out Rwanda’s ability to host meetings and conferences even during the pandemic was key in keeping the sector going while efforts by the government and partners ensured that the sector picked itself up as the pandemic subsided.

“If you recall well, even as the Covid-19 pandemic went on, Rwanda managed to host international conferences, concerts and events related to sports, which is was not a coincidence,”

“Rwanda put an effort in the infrastructure and other facilities that enabled that to happen and the partners and organisers of these activities were convinced by what we were doing to ensure the safety and protection of everyone,” Kageruka said.

With the sector recovering steadily, Kageruka said that there are many activities lined up ahead including hosting The Basketball Africa League (BAL) tournament again as well as the Veterans World Cup and UCI Road World Championships in 2025, all of which present a positive outlook for the sector.

Speaking during the event which was celebrated under the theme “Rethink Tourism,” Frank Gisha Mugisha, Director General of Rwanda Chamber of Tourism said that Rwanda is positioning itself to tap into the available opportunities as things get back to normal.

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Frank Gisha Mugisa, head of the tourism chamber.

“Before the Covid-19 outbreak, 2019 had proved to be the best year for the sector, with over 165,000 people working in the industry, but all that was set back. Over 18, 000 jobs were affected, including over 8,000 women and youth who lost their jobs,” Mugisha said.

He pointed out that as the sector recovers, players in the industry have to do things differently, factoring in innovation and diversifying into other untapped areas, especially domestic tourism, to be less vulnerable to future shocks.

Théodore Nzabonimpa, who owns Beyond the Gorillas Experience Ltd, a tourism agency, said that there are many opportunities for people to tap into, including trekking of mountains and hills, cultural sites and many more which can increase domestic tourism.

Ngabo Karegeya, the founder of Ibere rya Bigogwe Tourism company presented the opportunities he identified in his home area, where he entices people to visit Bigogwe area and experience traditional lifestyles based on cattle keeping and visit the rock known as Ibere rya Bigogwe.

Sector on a rebound

RDB figures show that in the first six months of this year it earned $11 million in revenues from parks, while in 2021 and 2020 it earned $6 million and $5.9 million, respectively. In 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic, the parks generated $21.9 million.

The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted tourism, with numbers dropping by over 70 percent. The numbers now show optimism for a recovery, with revenues increasing by 25% year-on-year, from $131 million to $164 million.

Kageruka said that there is hope that tourism will recover from the effects of Covid-19 quickly, buoyed by the growth in domestic tourism where more Rwandans are showing more interest in touring the country.

In general, tourism is a sector that has already shown that it has a big impact on Rwanda and Rwandans because in 2019, it earned more than $500 million, up from $300 million in 2014. At the same time, the jobs it provided went from 89 thousand to 164,000.

Supporting the hospitality sector to grow

Speaking at the event, Rica Rwigamba, the Country Head, Mastercard Foundation highlighted how investing in the tourism and hospitality sector cannot only contribute to its growth but also provide thousands of jobs to your people, citing ‘Hanga Ahazaza’ as an example.

“Just five years ago, the Mastercard Foundation announced an investment of $50 million with the aim of increasing employment opportunities for young people while expanding the tourism and hospitality sector in Rwanda,”

“Today, we are happy. We are happy because during the past five years, we have worked with 14 organizations represented here today, and with the great support from the Government of Rwanda through the Rwanda development Board to achieve that goal,” Rwigamba said.

She pointed out that they had a bold target of equipping 30,000 young women and men with the skills they need to transition into jobs in the tourism and hospitality sector.

Despite the challenges along the way, Rwigamba said the programme has been able to create the next generation of young leaders in the tourism sector who are now at the forefront of the recovery process.

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Rica Rwigamba, country head, Mastercard Foundation.

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Michaella Rugwizangoga, Chief Tourism Officer, RDB

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Sports journalist Usher Komugisha spoke about the potential of sports tourism.

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Rwanda Chamber of Tourism

PROGRAMS & INITIATIVES

We are a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the growth and sustainability of the tourism industry. we do this by empowering the tourism and providing the industry with the resources, support, and knowledge it needs to grow and thrive..

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EMPOWERING THE TOURISM

This can be done through training programs, workshops, and other capacity building initiatives for all stakeholders, including tourism businesses, governments, and communities., lobbying & advocacy, capacity building, business opportunities, partnerships, rwanda development board (rdb), the rwanda development board, as a government entity, plays a critical role in our partnership. it leads in strategic policy formulation, investment facilitation, and overall development of the tourism sector in rwanda. our collaboration focuses on improving investment promotion in tourism, skills development, and promoting rwanda as a globally competitive and sustainable tourism destination., mastercard foundation, our partnership with the mastercard foundation aligns with their focus on education, financial inclusion, and economic growth in africa. this collaboration is aimed at empowering the youth and women in rwanda's tourism sector through training, capacity building, and the development of inclusive financial products tailored for the tourism industry. the mastercard foundation’s expertise in financial empowerment and education plays a vital role in enhancing the skills and financial acumen of tourism professionals in rwanda., giz (deutsche gesellschaft für internationale zusammenarbeit), giz, renowned for its work in international cooperation for sustainable development, is a key partner in implementing sustainable tourism practices and eco-friendly initiatives in rwanda. our partnership leverages giz’s expertise in sustainable development, focusing on community empowerment, and the development of sustainable tourism products., east africa tourism platform, the east africa tourism platform, dedicated to promoting intra-regional tourism, is instrumental in our efforts to strengthen rwanda's position within the east african tourism circuit. our partnership focuses on policy advocacy for easier cross-border travel, joint marketing initiatives, and the development of regional tourism products. the platform’s role in facilitating regional integration is crucial for creating a unified and more accessible tourism experience in east africa.,  africa tourism board, the africa tourism board, with its mandate to promote tourism to and within africa, is a strategic partner in amplifying rwanda’s presence in the african tourism landscape. our collaboration is geared towards advocacy for intra-african travel, participation in continent-wide tourism initiatives, and the exchange of best practices within the african tourism industry. this partnership is pivotal in positioning rwanda as a leading tourism destination in africa and in enhancing collaborative efforts for the continent’s tourism development. each of these partnerships, tailored to the unique mandates and strengths of the respective institutions, enriches and strengthens the rwanda chamber of tourism's efforts in advancing rwanda’s tourism sector..

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We are a dynamic and inclusive organization dedicated to promoting and advancing the tourism and hospitality business community in Rwanda. 

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Contribution of RDB to Growth of Rwanda Tourism

Rwanda Development Board (RDB) is a body responsible for setting and regulating all tourism activities in Rwanda. The RDB runs tourism activities on behalf of the Government of Rwanda and its contribution to the development of tourism can be discussed below:

Rwanda tourism board (RDB) has facilitated tourism activities like Gorilla trekking, Chimpanzee trekking, canopy walk, Golden monkey trekking, Dian Fossey tomb trips, Mountain climbing and colobus monkeys among others. The body sets marketing plans to ensure that the world is made aware of the available potentials. Today, if you compare Gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda and democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda takes more visitors. This indicated that Rwanda development board is playing a big role to market Rwanda’s Tourist attraction hence taking a biggest market share.

RDB sets rules and regulations governing tourist activities in Rwanda. This is done to protect the wild life and their habitat ….this is done for continuity hence catering for the future generation.

RDB has reduced cases of poaching in Rwanda which was rampant during the era of Dian Fossey. The board has managed to achieve this by employing armed rangers to patrol all parks 24/ 7.

RDB drafts tourism budget and send it to the ministry of finance for approval. In return the tourism industry gets money which is used to promote Tourism.

Rwanda Development board ensures that all wild animals and birds are in good health and care. Wildlife Doctors are put in all national parks to treat wild animals and gives healthy advises. Primates like Gorillas and chimpanzees get full time health care.

Rwanda Development Board selects capable people to run tourism activities.  Such staff includes rangers, Doctors or health workers and so on.

Rwanda Development Board (RDB) is the eye and ear of the government in tourism sector. The RDB work on behalf of the government and in case of any problem like increasing poaching, outbreak of diseases, increasing deforestation and so on, RDB reports to the government to find solution.

RDB trains security personal to protect wild animals. They include rangers, tourism police and army among others.

Rwanda Development Board gazette places for wildlife reserves and resettle people who try to encroach the wildlife reserves. Wildlife reserves include National parks, Game reserves and so on.

Rwanda Development board (RDB) promotes tourism in Rwanda through advertisements, organizing tourism events like kwita Izina (Gorilla Naming events), attending world exhibition events and so on.

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Rwanda Economic Update: Nature-based Tourism Holds Tremendous Economic Potential

KIGALI, February 21, 2023— The Rwandan economy continued to achieve strong growth in 2022 despite global headwinds and an unprecedented increase in food prices, according to the 20 th edition of the Rwanda Economic Update report released today.

Rwanda’s GDP grew by 8.4 percent in the first three quarters of 2022, after reaching 11 percent in 2021. Growth was spurred by the services sector, especially the revival of tourism, leading to the improvement of employment indicators to levels similar to those at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020.

However, rising food prices may have exacerbated poverty and food insecurity, according to the Rwanda Economic Update. The increase in international commodity prices, related to the war in Ukraine combined with the poor harvest in Rwanda, have led to substantial increases in energy, transport, and food prices, with urban inflation rising to 21.7 percent in November 2022. Rising food prices particularly affected the poor, who devote a large share of their spending to food and appear to have faced higher food inflation than richer households did. Measures adopted by the government to mitigate the effects of inflation over the past year include an increase in subsidies (primarily on fuels, fertilizers, seeds, and public transit), increased spending on social protection, and increases in teachers’ salaries, as well as government contributions to school feeding programs.

“While the authorities have taken several measures to mitigate the impact of inflation on households, further steps are required to protect the poor and vulnerable from the impact of rising food prices as well as to strengthen policies to address food insecurity and prevent child stunting,” according to Peace Aimee Niyibizi, World Bank Economist.

Going forward, Rwanda’s economy is projected to expand at a slower pace in 2023-2025. While tourism is likely to continue to recover, external demand is likely to weaken as a result of a major increase in interest rates by the central bank to reduce inflation.

In its special focus on “Making the Most of Nature-Based Tourism in Rwanda”, the report provides a thorough analysis of challenges and opportunities in the nature-based tourism sector in Rwanda.

Nature-based tourism holds tremendous potential for creating employment and spurring economic growth in Rwanda. But to fully use that opportunity, innovative actions would be needed to mobilize more resources, beyond government budget, and enhance private sector participation to protect natural assets and develop appropriate infrastructure said Rolande Pryce, World Bank Country Manager for Rwanda.

Tourism is a major source of Rwanda’s foreign exchange earnings and tends to generate a higher proportion of formal sector jobs than other sectors. Within the tourism sector, nature-based tourism, which accounts for 80 percent of leisure and business visitors in Rwanda, not only helps protect biodiversity and advance Rwanda’s efforts to adapt to climate change, but also plays an important role in job creation: for every $1 million (about Rwf 1,050 million) that nature-based tourism activities inject into the economy, it is estimated that an additional 1,328 new jobs could be created.   

The report notes that nature-based tourism in Rwanda faces significant challenges, including potential limits on the expansion of revenues for one of the primary international attractions (gorilla trekking), degradation of the natural assets, risks presented by infectious diseases, land degradation, and overexploitation of natural resources, and the impact of climate change.

Investment requirements to address challenges hampering the development of nature-based tourism in Rwanda are estimated at $97.5-107.7 million for the period from 2019 through 2030. The Update recommends accelerating efforts to secure private sector participation in financing and operating nature-based tourism facilities by introducing innovative financing methods, as well as strengthening capacity and the management of tourism facilities and services.

Efforts are required to enhance revenue sharing mechanisms and increase incentives for local communities to conserve natural assets and unlock new opportunities for community-led enterprises that generate revenue from tourism and sustainable management of natural resources, including forests. This is essential to address poverty, to mitigate poaching threats and other illegal activities, and to reduce the unsustainable exploitation of the natural assets that are vital for successful nature-based tourism, according to the Update.

DOWNLOAD REPORT Rwanda Economic Update: Making the Most of Nature Based Tourism in Rwanda (English)

EVENT | FEBRUARY 21, 2023 Launch of the 20th edition of the World Bank Rwanda Economic Update

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Rwanda targets over $350m tourism revenue in 2022

Tourists listen to a tour guide before trekking to see mountain gorillas at the Volcanoes National Park. Rwanda is set to generate up to $360 million revenue from the tourism industry in 2022. Photo:Sam Ngendahimana.

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Rwanda Tourism Week

RWANDA TOURISM WEEK 2022

26th November to 3rd December 2022

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KCEV and KCC

26/11/2022 - 03/12/2022, #rtw2022 theme, “adopting innovative approaches to boost intra africa travel as a drive for tourism business recovery”.

This year’s theme focuses on rebuilding Tourism after 2 years of challenging times that severely hit the Tourism sector by setting a vision and long-term goals, that will strengthen the Tourism industry.

We are spotlighting how Tourism can increasingly contribute to economies , inclusively foster sustainability and innovations, and reconnecting Africans to each other and the rest of the world.

Frank Gisha Mugisha Director General- Rwanda Chamber of Tourism

Rwanda Tourism Chamber

WHY #RTW 2022?

The launch of the maiden Rwanda Tourism Week.The event, scheduled to take place from 28th November – 3rd December 2022 at Kigali Conference and Exhibition Village (KCEV) and Kigali Convention Centre (KCC), carries the theme “ Adopting Innovative Approaches to Boost Intra Africa Travel as a drive for Tourism Business Recovery . ”

Why #RTW 2022

The launch of the maiden Rwanda Tourism Week.The event, scheduled to take place from 26th November – 3rd December 2022 at Kigali Conference and Exhibition Village (KCEV) and Kigali Convention Centre (KCC), carries the theme “ Adopting Innovative Approaches Boosting Intra-Africa travel as a drive for tourism Businesses Recovery ” and aims to focuses on rebuilding Tourism after 2 years of challenging times that  severely hit the Tourism sector by setting a  vision and long-term goals, that will  strengthen the Tourism industry

Photo Competition - 15th- 27th November 2022

Photo competition was created to enable storytellers (local and  international photographers) to showcase Rwanda’s diverse tourism  attractions , beautiful scenery through photography.

This is an opportunity for the  talented photographers to  raise  awareness on Rwanda as a destination through various social media  platforms.

Invited local photographers and creative houses will register on RTW  online platforms, take pictures, and post anything related to nature,  travel, tourism attractions, wildlife, heritage, and culture that will  highlight Rwanda’s wonders. It serves as a motivator for people to  travel to Rwanda.

Fam Trips - 24th - 30th November 2022

Rwanda Tourism Week presents the best  opportunity to explore Rwanda and it’s beautiful  attractions though an exclusive fam trip. The first  hand travel experience that will give you the  highlights of the destination.

The invited participants and international tour  operators will sample packaged Rwanda Tourism  products and learn more about Rwanda in  general in a 4-days package.

Restaurant Week -25th November - 3rd December 2022

Restaurant Week is a promotional culinary event that takes place  during the Tourism week. Dinners have the opportunity to enjoy their  experience at the top restaurant for a discounted and set-price.

In 2021, Rwanda Tourism week celebrated the best fine dining  restaurants by inviting restaurants to offer special rates to visitors  during the week of the event. It attracted a number of people who  turned into loyal clients.

Golf for Conservation - is 27th November 2022

Golf for conservation t was conceived to match the community  elites (Business) with the Investment Forum taking place during  the first 2 days of the Rwanda Tourism week.

Apart from the competition and profit driver at the golf course,  Golf is the best sport for networking experience. It would attract  the delegates from the investment forum to  meet the  community elites to have B2B sessions.

Tourism Business Forum 1st - 2nd December 2022

The Rwanda Chamber of Tourism, along with other players in the  Tourism industry, will host the first international business Forum  conference of it’s kind during the Rwanda Tourism Week .

The conference will bring together actors from the tourism  industry, experts and specialists, the leaders of key local and  regional businesses, financial institutions, and organizations in  order to strengthen and speed up the sector’s economic  recovery.

Exhibition - December 1st - 3rd 2022

The exhibition during Rwanda Tourism Week has been a crucial  platform for connecting potential exhibitors across different countries  and categories with prospective customers, resulting in business  connections.

This year’s exhibition will be a three day event that will give invited  exhibitors the opportunity to showcase and spotlight the tourism and  hospitality products along the value chain as well as host traditional  games and other entertaining activities.

The exhibition will attract 200 local, regional and international tourism  and hospitality operators as well as conservation institutions from  around the world.

Fashion Show - 2nd December 2022

On December 2nd, RTW 2022 hosts a live informal fashion show that highlights the innovation of renown local and  regional clothing brands.

The event is organized to empower and inspire women ,  young talented minds working in the creative and fashion  industry to showcase authentic designs and promote the  Rwandan creative industry.

Gala Diner - 3rd December 2022

• 100 Exhibitors • 10+ Countries represented • 50+ buyers from East Africa and the continent • 1,000 trade visitors from the region and the continent • Meeting potential buyers in 3 days • 3,000 attendees with direct influence on purchase

• Conservation agencies • Tourist Activity Providers • Cultural Tourism enterprises • Arts and Crafts suppliers • Travel and Tourism Technology companies

• Transport companies • Tourism sector suppliers • Community based Tourism Enterprises • Car Rentals • Convention Bureau • Professional Conference Organizers • Fashion company • Made in Rwanda tourism products

Stay tuned with our updates

EPL

Arsenal not planning to end Visit Rwanda deal despite court ruling against government’s asylum policy

Arsenal not planning to end Visit Rwanda deal despite court ruling against government’s asylum policy

Arsenal have no plans to cancel their sleeve sponsorship deal with Visit Rwanda following the UK Supreme Court’s ruling that the government’s Rwanda immigration plan is “unlawful”.

No changes are anticipated to the four-year £10million-per-year ($12.5m) deal signed in 2021 with Visit Rwanda, which first appeared on Arsenal shirts in 2018.

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When delivering the verdict, Lord Robert Reed, president of the court, said Rwanda “has a poor human rights record”, citing evidence from the UN’s refugee agency. Lord Reed added there was a “real risk” asylum seekers could be sent from Rwanda to the places they fled from.

The written ruling stated that “most human rights violations were said to be linked to criticisms of the Rwandan government” with “constraints on media freedom and political activities” and questions about the country’s compliance with international human rights agreements.

Wednesday’s ruling comes following legal challenges to the UK and Rwandan governments’ Asylum Partnership Agreement, which was announced in April 2022. That plan, led by former Home Secretary Suella Braverman, would see the UK send asylum seekers from their shores to Rwanda, where they would be processed under the African country’s asylum system.

As reported by the BBC, a Rwandan government statement said it “takes issue with the ruling that Rwanda is not a safe third country for asylum seekers and refugees” and that it “is committed to its international obligations”.

Arsenal maintain their deal is about promoting tourism in a developing country rather than supporting the country’s political leadership. However, Visit Rwanda is an arm of the Rwanda Development Board which is a government department.

Visit Rwanda also has deals with Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich.

go-deeper

Arsenal's Visit Rwanda sponsorship: The impact, criticisms and what fans think

When did Arsenal partner with Visit Rwanda?

Arsenal’s deal with Visit Rwanda began in May 2018, when they signed a three-year deal with the Rwanda Development Board. In 2021, Arsenal signed another £10million-per-year ($12.5m) sleeve sponsorship contract with Visit Rwanda lasting another four seasons.

As well as appearing on shirt sleeves of Arsenal’s men’s, women’s and youth teams, the Visit Rwanda logo has been seen on LED boards at the Emirates Stadium and interview backdrops.

Several past and present Arsenal players have visited Rwanda as part of their agreement. In August 2022, Arsenal published footage on their channels of club legends Ray Parlour and Robert Pires’ trip. Last December, four women’s team players — Jen Beattie, Caitlin Foord, Katie McCabe, and Jordan Nobbs — also visited Rwanda. Sponsored content using various active men’s players has been produced since 2018 and Arsenal fans can also buy Visit Rwanda merchandise at the club shop.

The difficulties with Arsenal’s deal

Arsenal’s deal has prompted criticism because the Rwandan government stands accused of serial abuses by multiple human rights groups, with international non-governmental organisation Human Rights Watch alleging torture is commonplace alongside a failure to conduct investigations into “suspicious deaths”. Fellow NGO Amnesty International says “disappearances from previous years remained unresolved”.

Last year, Arsenal told The Athletic it carried out “extensive research” before signing the deal , which is focused on boosting tourism in a developing country.

“Our partnership is focussed on promoting the country and helping the tourism sector recover from the pandemic,” a spokesperson said. “Prior to the pandemic, visitor numbers from key countries including the UK and across Europe had shown significant increases which coincide with the start of our partnership.

“In 2019, Rwanda experienced a 30 per cent year-on-year increase in visitors for tourism and MICE tourism (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) from across Europe, and an 18 per cent year-on-year increase from the UK.”

In 2021, the UK government criticised Rwanda at the United Nations Human Rights Council for “extrajudicial killings, deaths in custody, enforced disappearances and torture”.

“I think Arsenal fans should worry about their football club supporting one of the most repressive regimes in Africa,” author Michela Wrong told The Athletic last year. “Given what is going on in his country, the president has blood on his hands.”

While Rwanda was a fairly niche issue in the UK when Arsenal first signed the deal, that has all changed over the last year as the Conservative government has pursued its ‘Rwanda policy’ which has now been thrown out by the Supreme Court.

As Arsenal’s Premier League season continues, in the UK, Rwanda now may become synonymous with ongoing political battles as the right-wing of the Conservative Party proposes leaving the European Court of Human Rights which they blame for blocking the Rwanda deal.

(Photo: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

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Politics latest: Gordon Brown says UK seeing 'destitution we haven't seen for years'

Former prime minister Gordon Brown has told Politics Hub With Sophy Ridge the UK's seeing "destitution we haven't seen for years", describing the youngsters suffering most as "austerity's children".

Wednesday 15 May 2024 21:55, UK

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In January 2023, Rishi Sunak made five promises.

Since then, he and his ministers have rarely missed an opportunity to list them. In case you haven't heard, he promised to:

  • Halve inflation
  • Grow the economy
  • Reduce debt
  • Cut NHS waiting lists and times
  • Stop the boats

See below how he is doing on these goals:

By Faye Brown , political reporter

Labour has launched the process to select a general election candidate to replace Jeremy Corbyn in the London seat of Islington North.

The former Labour leader has had the party whip suspended since 2020 over his response to a report into antisemitism, meaning he currently sits as an independent MP.

Last year he was  effectively blocked from standing  for Labour after the party's ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) backed a motion to prevent him from being endorsed for the seat he has represented for more than 40 years.

The veteran MP was first elected to represent Islington North in 1983 and has won it at each of the last 10 elections, often by a comfortable margin.

Mr Corbyn, who remains a Labour member, has still not said whether he plans to run as an independent. Doing so could result in him being suspended from the party he has been part of for 50 years.

You can read more from Sky News below:

Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer are both facing a historic lack of popularity among ethnically diverse communities, new polling suggests.

While ethnically diverse community voting trends are incredibly complex and almost always hard to predict, some polling can give useful indications that can speak to the mood of the country.

A comprehensive set of data based on polling by Ipsos and shared exclusively with Sky News gives us a general sense of how the leaders of the two main parties are faring at this very specific time.

Mr Sunak was named the UK's next leader on the festival of Diwali, serving as a reminder of the milestone in Britain's evolution as a multicultural and multi-faith society.

He's the UK's first prime minister from an ethnically diverse background and the first Hindu prime minister, but in terms of how much ethnically diverse communities have rewarded him for these historic firsts, it's a somewhat surprising figure.

You can read more from Sky News here: 

The British Medical Association and the government have mutually agreed to explore mediation, a step which could ultimately end strike action by junior doctors.

A mediator has been agreed between the two parties, and they will shortly the process in a bid to end months of disruption to the medical field.

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins said: "As Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, my duty is to patients and I want to pursue all avenues to resolve the dispute with the BMA junior doctors committee.

"This will ensure they can focus on delivering the highest quality care and help consolidate our recent progress on waiting lists.

"I am pleased the BMA have agreed to explore mediation and I am hopeful that it will provide a way forward."

Labour's attempt to specifically ban "ninja swords" in the UK has been defeated in the House of Commons.

MPs voted 272 to 171, majority 101, against new clause 59, which would have banned the weapon.

They also voted 275 to 167, majority 108, to reject new clause 44, which sought to replace "prostitution for gain" with "sexual exploitation of an adult".

A Liberal Democrat proposal designed to make it an offence to fail to meet pollution performance commitment levels was defeated by 268 votes to 17, majority 251.

Consideration of the Criminal Justice Bill has ended for the day, with the second day of report stage yet to be scheduled.

Ninja swords are "difficult to ban" as straight-edged swords can be held for commemorative purposes, justice minister Laura Farris said.

Responding to shadow justice minister Alex Cunningham, she said: "I wanted to just provide the reassurance that there are both straight-bladed ninja swords, which I know that his amendment is directed at, but also curved swords.

"They're both covered. Curved swords were banned by the government in 2008.

"He will know that possessing a sword or any knife, even a kitchen knife, in a public place without good reason is already a criminal offence punishable by up to four years in prison."

The UK will spend £140m next year helping starving people in Yemen who are suffering one of the most "acute humanitarian crises in the world", the deputy foreign secretary has said.

Speaking exclusively to Sky News, Andrew Mitchell raised the plight of the Yemeni people, whom he said were living "on the margins of subsistence" following nearly a decade of civil war.

Mr Mitchell promised that the UK's bilateral support for Yemen would increase by 60% and that any money provided would be designed "directly to help people who are in a very perilous humanitarian position".

"It is Britain doing good, going to the rescue of the most desperate people in the world and helping them," he said.

The deputy foreign secretary's intervention comes following months of reporting from Yemen from Sky News' special correspondent Alex Crawford, who has detailed how the war in Gaza has had an adverse impact on the Yemeni people.

Yemen's Houthi militants, backed by Iran, have targeted ships in the Red Sea region which they claim are linked to Israel or helping its war effort.

"Chaos" in the UK's prisons was a point of focus for Sir Keir Starmer at Prime Minister's Questions earlier today.

Shortly after, it was announced an emergency measure has been triggered by the Ministry of Justice to deal with prison overcrowding in England.

Operation Early Dawn will see defendants in police custody remain there - and not be transferred to magistrates' courts for bail hearings - in case there is no space in jail cells for that prisoner if they are remanded into custody.

Sky News understands the measure is just being used in London and the North East, at the moment.

The Law Society, which represents solicitors in England and Wales, says many magistrates' court cases will be delayed as a result, with the most serious cases given priority.

Read more from our  political reporter  Alix Culbertson :

Still on the topic of the current Labour leader, Gordon Brown tells Sir Keir Starmer to "stick to his principles".

Asked what his advice would be to Sir Keir, the former prime minister says: "To stick to his principles.

"Keir Starmer I know as a very talented but also very principled person. 

"I do think the pressures of politics are such that you have to deal with problems every day that you never anticipated, but you must never lose sight of why you're there in the first place. 

"And if you do lose sight of that, then you will fail. 

"If you don't lose sight of it and commit to your principles in implementing them, then I think you'll succeed, and I'm sure he will."

That ends our coverage of tonight's Politics Hub With Sophy Ridge . Stick with us for more news and analysis from Westminster through the evening.

Gordon Brown, the former Labour leader, has urged Sir Keir Starmer to undertake a "root and branch review" of Universal Credit.

In a conversation with  Sophy Ridge , Mr Brown was asked whether the current Labour leader should commit to scrapping the two-child limit on the benefit.

Claimants of Universal Credit - with some exceptions - are only able to claim child benefit for a maximum of two children at the moment.

He says: "You've got to look at every aspect of Universal Credit which has gone wrong. And it's not, of course, just the two child rule that is causing problems. 

"It's the caps that have been placed on, for example, housing benefits. And it's the deductions that are taking place. 

"If you go on to Universal Credit, you don't get any benefit for five weeks. Therefore, you've got to take out a loan. 

"Therefore, half of the people on Universal Credit are now paying back loans that they took out because they didn't have any benefit under the system's rules. 

"And that means the DWP, the Department of Work and Pensions, it's now the biggest debt collector in the country, and some people are having 25% of the benefit cut every week, some people 30%.

"And that means they're forced further and further into poverty."

Mr Brown says: "All these rules have got to be looked at."

Gordon Brown, the former prime minister, is asked what needs to happen to help the 4.3 million children living in poverty in the UK.

He points to the September financial statement, and suggests the Household Support Fund, which is worth half a billion, "should be continued, not abolished". 

Mr Brown adds: "At the same time, I do think a children's fund should be created, and it could be with foundations and charities as well as businesses and local and national governments. 

"But we need to revive projects like Sure Start because we proved that until 2010, Sure Start was actually increasing educational performance, reducing demand for health care, was actually paying for itself and was actually cost-effective. 

"All the things I am proposing could be achieved within the fiscal rules that both political parties have set down."

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