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Govt warns it could break 'Big Six' energy firms up

The Big Six energy companies were tonight warned the government would break them up if The Competition Authority were to recommend it.

The watchdog accused the firms of overcharging millions of customers who stay with the same supplier rather than shopping around for the best deals.

ITV Consumer Editor Chris Choi reports:

Car hire cheapest in Cyprus, survey finds

Car rental could set you back as much as £514 a week in Majorca. Credit: Reuters

British tourists could end up paying twice as much for car hire depending where they go on holiday this summer.

Rental fees in Majorca are twice as high as those in Cyprus, a survey by Post Office Travel Money found.

Other popular spots where charges were particularly high were Faro in Portugal, Split in Croatia and Dublin.

Taking into account expenses such as satnav hire, additional-driver cover and petrol the pricest destination was the Norwegian capital Oslo where hiring a car for one week would set you back as much as £614.

The cheapest place to rent a car was in Larnaca in Cyprus where one-week hire was just £295.


£60,000 found floating in a Lincolnshire river

Police are appealing for information after banknotes worth around £60,000 were mysteriously found floating down a river in Lincolnshire.

A dog walker spotted the cash near to Spalding town centre last month.

Officers who recovered the banknotes say a large amount was damaged but a good quantity appear to be in fair condition.

They are now trying to trace the owner.

If they cannot it will become the subject of a court forfeiture order.

More working households targeted by bailiffs

According to a survey into debt collection carried out by Citizens Advice:

  • Council tax, unpaid parking fines, loans and credit cards were named as the main debts by callers.
  • There was a north/south divide in the number of cases recorded. The North East of England account for a sixth of all bailiff cases handled by the Citizens Advice Bureau
  • More than half of the people pursued by a bailiff in the East Midlands were in a family.
  • Only one in 100 problems dealt with by CABs in the South West were bailiff related.

Number of working families chased by bailiffs rises

Bailiffs are chasing more working families than before, say Citizens Advice Credit: PA

Debt collectors are knocking on the doors of more working households than before, a leading charity has claimed.

Requests for help dealing with bailiffs chasing payments from working parents now make up a fifth of inquires about debt collectors put to the Citizens Advice charity.

They dealt with 60,000 "bailiff problems" between April 2012 and March this year.

Out of these requests, half were parents were with dependent children.

On Sunday it was revealed that the value of UK workers' wages has suffered one of the sharpest falls in the European Union, when adjusted for inflation.


Households paid 20% of income on direct taxes in 2011/2012

The Office for National Statistics has released new figures looking at the effects of taxes and benefits on household incomes in 2011/12.

  • Disposable incomes have fallen since the start of the economic downturn, with average equivalised income falling by £1,200.
  • Average original income (before any taxes or benefits) was £31,500.
  • On average, households paid 20% of their gross income in direct taxes such as income tax and council tax.
  • The top fifth of households had an average income of £78,300, 14 times that of the bottom fifth, who had an average of £5,400.

Income inequality fell to lowest level since 1986 in 2011/12

Inequality of disposable income fell to lowest level since 1986 in 2011/12, according to new figures released by the Office of National Statistics.

There was a fall in income inequality between 2010/11 and 2011/12.

This was partly driven by earnings falling for higher income households and by changes in taxes and benefits.

These changes include an increase in the income tax personal allowance and changes to National Insurance Contributions and Child Tax Credits.

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