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Another supplier to raise default prices

Kevin Peachey

Personal finance reporter

Gas hob

Just a few hours after we told you that British Gas will raise prices for customers on its default tariff in April, another supplier has echoed the announcement.

Scottish Power will increase prices on its default tariff on 1 April, so its typical customer on such a tariff will pay £117 more a year, taking the annual price to £1,254.

That is the same amount as nearly all the major energy suppliers - as it matches the new maximum allowance under regulator Ofgem's price cap.

The regulator is permitting suppliers to increase these prices in April owing to the greater wholesale costs they have faced.

Wages rise


Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, has been looking at the employment and wages data from the Office for National Statistics.

He does not expect wage growth to slow below 3% this year - it is currently just higher than this level.

"With surplus level extremely scarce and job vacancies rising to a new record high, workers are having more success in obtaining above-inflation pay increases," he says.

British Gas to raise prices to new cap

Kevin Peachey

Personal finance reporter

British Gas bill

British Gas - the largest domestic energy supplier in the UK - will raise prices for more than three million customers on default tariffs in April in line with the new official cap.

Regulator Ofgem has said it will allow suppliers to charge more from April to those on these default tariffs owing to a rise in wholesale costs.

British Gas has now confirmed to price comparison sites that it will put up its price for a typical customer on such a tariff by £119 to £1,254.

The majority of major suppliers have now announced they will raise prices to the new cap in April. A total of 15 million people are expected to be hit by the price rises across all suppliers, although there is an expectation that the cap could be lowered again in time for next winter.

Productivity 'disappointment'

BBC Economics Correspondent tweets

Unemployment rate 4%


The Office for National Statistics said the unemployment rate (the number of unemployed people as a proportion of all employed and unemployed people) was estimated at 4.0%.

It has not been lower since December 1974 to February 1975.

And the 3.4% rise in weekly earnings, means that real wage rises - adjusting for inflation - are up 1.2% (excluding bonuses), the ONS said.

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NatWest worker told customer 'vegans should be punched'

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A customer who called a bank to apply for a loan was told "all vegans should be punched in the face".

The Bristol woman, who did not want to be named, went to NatWest for a loan to pay for a £400 nutrition diploma.

The application was rejected but after listening to a recording of the call, NatWest offered to pay for the course.

The bank said the outburst - which came after the woman told the bank worker she was a vegan - was "wholly inappropriate".

The full story is here.

At last some good news - pay to rise

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The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) says private-sector employers plan pay rises of 2.5% on average.

That's the most since the quarterly survey by the human resources lobby group was started in 2012.

"The latest results show that the proportion of hiring employers with hard-to-fill vacancies has edged higher yet again, prompting more than half of those facing increasing difficulties to raise salaries to attract potential applicants.

"Organisations are also finding it hard to retain staff, with official statistics providing concurrent evidence that job-to-job moves are on the rise," the CIPD said.

It is first rise in basic pay expectations for the private sector since 2012. But for the public sector, pay rise expectations have slowed from 2% to just 1.1%, the CIPD said.

Official data is due tomorrow and likely to show pay rises are outpacing inflation, which fell to 1.8% in January.

Single leg train pricing

Today Programme

BBC Radio 4

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Robert Nisbet of the Rail Delivery Group has been taking about the wish-list of reforms for the industry published earlier.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme that the aim was not to deregulate fares but rewrite the existing regulations.

"We should strip it back from what it is at the moment and build it back up with the basic building block being single leg (pricing)".

The idea is to change the current system where if you travel out peak and come back off-peak you still pay for a full peak return, he said.

"If this were completed fully....the majority of people would be paying less".

There's more detail in this story.