NATIONAL NEWS ROUNDUP: Military brought in to help understaffed NHS AND UK average house prices rose eight times last year
Here are your latest national headlines including: the military are to be brought in to help understaffed NHS, UK average house prices rose eight times last year, and footfall at the shops dropped in December as omicron fears rose.
MILITARY: Troops are to begin deploying in London to support the NHS amid growing staff shortages due to Covid-19, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.
Around 200 armed forces personnel are being made available to hospitals across the capital, which has been the epicentre of the Omicron outbreak with a huge upsurge in cases.
The announcement comes after Boris Johnson said this week that ministers hoped to “ride out” the latest wave without the need for further restrictions in England.
The MoD said the deployment included 40 military medics and 160 general duty personnel to help fill gaps caused by absences of NHS staff unable to work because they were ill or having to self-isolate.
They will be deployed in 40 teams of five – comprising one medic and four support personnel – and will be targeted at areas where the need is greatest.
It is expected they will be “on task” for the next three weeks.
HOUSE PRICES: House prices increased by more than £24,500 on average in 2021, marking the largest annual cash rise since 2003, according to an index.
The typical UK property value hit a new record high of £276,091 in December 2021, Halifax said.
Property prices hit new record highs eight times last year, according to its monthly index, despite the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
But house price growth is expected to slow considerably this year, the report added.
The average UK house price increased by 9.8% annually and by 1.1% month on month in December.
Russell Galley, managing director, Halifax, said: “UK house prices climbed again in December for the sixth month in a row, rising by 1.1%.
FOOTFALL: Much of the progress made in attracting shoppers back to stores was wiped out in December amid surging Omicron cases and new work-from-home advice, figures have shown.
Total UK December footfall was 18.6% lower than the same month in 2019, well below the three-month average decline of 16.4%, according to BRC-Sensormatic IQ data.
Footfall on high streets was down 23.1% while retail parks saw a drop of 9.2% and shopping centre visits declined by 36.6%.
For the whole of 2021, total UK footfall was 33.2% down on pre-pandemic levels.
British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson OBE said: “Much of the progress made over the last four months was wiped out in December as surging Omicron cases and new work-from-home advice deterred many from shopping in-store, particularly in towns and city centres.
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