Monday briefing: Supply chain crisis squeezes food banks

Top story: Hardship fears as universal credit uplift ends

Hello, Warren Murray reporting for duty again this Monday morning – welcome to the Briefing.

Food banks have said they will have to shrink the size of their parcels amid declining stock levels caused by the HGV crisis, supply shortages and a collapse in public donations. An explosion in demand is expected after universal credit is cut this week. Ministers announced a £500m winter hardship fund last week but charities described it as a “temporary sticking plaster”. Patrick Butler, the Guardian’s social policy editor, explains that in some cases donations have reduced by a third. Mainstay deliveries of free surplus food from supermarkets have become less frequent or dried up altogether. Many food banks report the public is giving less food; while the banks themselves are having to dip into cash reserves to top up their stock.

Several reported they were already spending hundreds of pounds a month to replenish storerooms depleted by a fall-off in deliveries of surplus food from supermarkets and a big decrease in food donations from the public. FareShare, a food charity that normally handles 150 tonnes of supermarket surplus food a day, distributing it to charities and food banks, said bulk deliveries to its warehouses were down by a third because of HGV driver shortages. A survey of 68 UK food banks carried out by the Independent Food Aid Network (Ifan) in mid-September and seen by the Guardian found two-thirds reporting food shortages and more than 80% anticipating running low on food stocks in the near future.

Pandora papers – The secret deals and hidden assets of some of the world’s richest and most powerful people have been revealed in the biggest trove of leaked offshore data in history. Branded the Pandora papers, the cache includes 11.9m files from companies hired by wealthy clients to create offshore structures and trusts in tax havens such as Panama, Dubai, Monaco, Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.

Play Video 3:13 What are the Pandora papers? – video explainer

They expose the secret offshore affairs of 35 world leaders, including current and former presidents, prime ministers and heads of state. They also shine a light on the secret finances of more than 300 other public officials such as government ministers, judges, mayors and military generals in more than 90 countries. Setting up or benefiting from offshore entities is not itself illegal, and in some cases people may have legitimate reasons, such as security, for doing so. But the secrecy offered by tax havens has at times proven attractive to tax evaders, fraudsters and money launderers, some of whom are exposed in the files. You can read more on the series here.

Met officer charged with rape – A Metropolitan police officer serving in the parliamentary and diplomatic protection command has been charged with rape. PC David Carrick, 46, of Stevenage, allegedly attacked a woman in St Albans on the night of 4 September 2020 while off-duty. Dame Cressida Dick, Metropolitan police commissioner, said she was “deeply concerned” and “I fully recognise the public will be very concerned too … Criminal proceedings must now take their course, so I am unable to comment any further at this stage.” Parliamentary and diplomatic protection command officers guard government-owned buildings, including the Palace of Westminster, and embassies. Carrick is due to appear via video link at Hatfield magistrates court today.

Crash kills Muhammad cartoonist – The Swedish artist Lars Vilks, 75 – who lived under police protection since his 2007 sketch caricaturing the prophet Muhammad brought death threats – has died in a car crash along with two officers, according to multiple Swedish media reports. According to police, a civilian police car and a truck collided and caught fire on Sunday afternoon outside Markaryd. The truck driver was taken to hospital, and the cause of the collision was under investigation.

Facebook Twitter Lars Vilks in Germany, September 2007. Photograph: Harry Soremski/AFP/Getty Images

In 2015, Vilks’s presence was a central feature of the Copenhagen terror attacks: he was the star speaker at a free speech event at a cafe where an Islamist gunman opened fire, killing a film director and wounding three police before going to a synagogue and killing a volunteer guard.

Footballer fights the trolls – Jermaine Jenas, the footballer turned TV presenter, has urged the government to sanction social media companies that fail to stamp out racism and abuse. Jenas has been monitoring online abuse against black footballers and assessing whether social media companies have kept promises to do more. In a Channel 4 documentary, Hunting the Football Trolls, Jenas says there has been no improvement in policing and banning racists, and accuses social media companies of being the biggest trolls of all. “These companies are operating the way they want to. But if laws are in place they’ll have to work within those laws.” Hunting the Football Trolls is on Channel 4 on 7 October at 10pm.

Right kind of snow – Dry ice will be blasted on to railway lines in northern England in a trial aimed at removing leaves. Pellets of dry ice are fired on to the rails, freezing the leaves, then the ice reverts to gas, expanding and destroying the leaves.

Facebook Twitter University of Sheffield graphic explaining the dry ice leaf blaster for trains. Photograph: University of Sheffield/PA

Currently, leaves are cleared by 61 special trains that use high-pressure water jets and a gel containing sand and steel grains. Engineers behind the dry ice system claim it is more efficient as it can be used by passenger trains. It also does not leave a residue, which can damage rails and train wheels, and can be used on the same stretch of railway more than once a day.

Today in Focus podcast: Inside the Pandora papers

A massive trove of leaked offshore data reveals the financial dealings of current and former world leaders.

Today in Focus Inside the Pandora papers Sorry your browser does not support audio – but you can download here and listen 00:00:00 00:24:59

Lunchtime read: What happened to Jason Donovan?

Fresh from a run in Joseph, and about to go on tour, the actor and singer reflects on superstardom, drug addiction and the steadying joy of fatherhood.

Facebook Twitter Jason Donovan, London. Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian


Manchester City made an official complaint to Liverpool after a fan allegedly spat at their bench during the second half of an enthralling draw that saw Kevin De Bruyne cancel out Mohamed Salah’s stunning solo goal. But there was a nice moment at the end of this game. As the players milled around the centre circle drawing a breath, and as Phil Foden went to place a fond arm round the shoulder of James Milner, who had spent the first half trying, and mainly failing, to body-check him into the advert boards, the crowd in the seats and the walkways stopped to give the players a gentle, rippling ovation.

Lizzie Deignan, the winner on Saturday of the first women’s Paris‑Roubaix, will be the main attraction in the 2021 AJ Bell Women’s Tour of Britain, which begins in Bicester on Monday. The six‑stage race will feature many of those who battled through the historic inaugural edition of the women’s “Hell of the North”, won by a bloodied and tearful Deignan in Roubaix. Sonny Colbrelli became the first Italian to win the Paris-Roubaix classic in 22 years when he prevailed in a three-man sprint finish at the end of a gruelling race on Sunday. Sisay Lemma has always been a marathon bridesmaid, never the bride. So having burned off a high-quality London marathon field, it was only natural for the 30‑year‑old Ethiopian to ease up in the final few strides to bask in the crowd’s applause and give a regal wave in appreciation.


Shares in the struggling Chinese property group Evergrande have been suspended on the Hong Kong stock market this morning pending news of a “major transaction”. Analysts expect it means the group’s profitable property management arm will be sold off. It sent Asian stocks falling sharply with the FTSE100 also set to drop this morning by 0.1%. The pound is on $1.355 and €1.168.

The papers

Our Guardian front page today is dedicated to coverage of the Pandora papers investigation. The front also carries a pointer to coverage inside of the Conservative party conference over the weekend. Boris Johnson has defended the government’s performance on the supply chain crisis, casting it as part of a wider transformation of the economy post-Brexit. The prime minister said he would not “reach for the lever called ‘uncontrolled immigration’, get people in at low wages. And yes, there will be a period of adjustment, but that is, I think, what we need to see in this country.”

Facebook Twitter Guardian front page, 4 October 2021.

The i has “Blairs’ stamp duty savings revealed in leaked papers” – here is our story on that. The Times front dedicates one column to the leak story (continued inside) while its lead is “All Britain’s electricity to be green by 2035”. “Boris’ tax cut to win over critics” – that’s the Express which attributes it to a cabinet source, while the Financial Times leads with another story in the taxing and spending vein: “Sunak pledges £500m to boost workforce as crisis hounds Tories”.

“Police’s social media sickness” – the Mail reports on how nearly a thousand officers have been looked into for posting offensive content. “The silent virus victims” – the Mirror covers the mental health toll of Covid. The Sun has “Gone Barrowman”, saying John Barrowman has been axed as a Strictly Come Dancing judge over historical flashing claims. In news from the border down the Irish Sea, the Telegraph says “Frost draws up plans to axe NI protocol”.

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