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Swalec announces 5.3% average gas price cut

Energy giant SSE, which owns the Welsh energy supplier Swalec, has announced that standard gas prices will be cut by 5.3%.

SSE said the reduction will take effect on March 29th Credit: PA

It's the latest move by a Big Six Supplier to reduce tariffs, a week after rival E.ON announced it was lowering gas prices by 5.1% from February 1st.

SSE said the reduction will take effect on March 29th and will save household gas customers an average of £32 per year.

The cut was praised by Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Amber Rudd as a "step in the right direction". But Martin Lewis, founder of Money Saving Expert, branded the reduction as "trivial", describing it as "nothing close to the drop in wholesale prices".

Welsh workers earning £25 less a week according to new figures

Average annual wage in Wales has increased. Credit: PA Images

Workers in Wales are earning £25 less a week according to new analysis published by the Wales Trades Union Congress (TUC).

Real wages in Wales are still worth nearly £1,300 less than in 2008 according to the new figures.

Wales TUC Cymru say despite some strengthening of real wages over the last few years, workers still have a long way to go to restore their earnings.

But the average annual wage in Wales has increased in real terms by £507 from 2014 to 2015, the first annual increase for several years.

Monthly data on average weekly earnings from the Office for National Statistics has shown that wage growth slowed in the second half of 2015.

Availability of 'cheap credit' leading to rising family debt

Credit: PA

Families' debts have jumped by an "alarming" £4,000 on average in the space of six months, a report has found.

Aviva's Family Finances report found that typical household debt has surged by 42% since summer 2015 to reach the highest levels seen for two and-a-half years.

The average owed per family in Wales is £4,060.

The latest report has fuelled concerns that many families' finances are finely balanced and the continued availability of cheap credit is leading to households racking up debts on credit cards, overdrafts and personal loans.

Credit: PA

The latest figure recorded by Aviva is the highest since summer 2013, when the average family in the UK owed £16,300.

The latest increase means that the average amount owed is 24% more than in winter 2011, when Aviva started tracking families' finances and households typically owed £10,870.

Recent Bank of England lending figures have prompted concerns from charities about the levels of credit being taken on by consumers.

There has also been speculation that interest rates could start increasing this year, pushing up the cost of borrowing.

The alarming levels of rising household debt, along with a recent reduction in income and savings levels, paints an uncertain picture for the family purse in 2016. With the possibility that the Bank of England could raise interest rates this year, families who have grown accustomed to cheaper credit - particularly those who have spent heavily over the Christmas period - need to ensure they are still fully prepared to manage debt repayments, as well as other monthly outgoings, should rates go up.

– Louise Colley, Aviva

Four banks to close in rural North Wales

HSBC is to close four of its branches in North Wales Credit: PA

Communities in North Wales are angry four branches of HSBC bank are to close in the area.

The Chirk, Ruabon, Menai Bridge and Amlwch branches are set to close by April.

It will mean bank customers will have to travel further or use 'pop up' banks or services in post offices.

There are concerns that despite alternative services being put in place, they will not always be readily available.

HSBC says it will work with customers to help them understand their options.

We never take the decision to close a branch lightly and we understand it's unsettling for the local community. Unfortunately, with an increase in the use of online and telephone banking over the past few years, the use of Chirk, Ruabon, Menai Bridge and Amlwch branches has fallen significantly and we've taken the difficult decision to close them.

We will be working with customers who use the branches to help them understand their options which include being able to use local post offices for their day-to-day banking and using ATMs.

– HSBC spokesperson
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