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This week’s roundup includes news that rail fares across Britain are rising again, Iceland supermarket is embroiled in a dispute with HMRC and unwanted gift returns will raise by 80% in one day following Christmas. 

Rail fares rise by average of 3.1%

Rail fares have increased by an average of 3.1% in England and Wales - and almost 3% in Scotland - despite a raft of issues on the network in 2018.

The rail industry says 98p of every pound spent on a ticket is reinvested but the price hike was called "yet another kick in the wallet" by campaign group Railfuture.

The rise in England and Wales - the highest since January 2013 - will see the price of some annual season tickets go up by more than £100.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling apologised for "tough moments" on the rail network in 2018 but said new trains being introduced in England showed the impact of "massive investment" by the government and private sector.

Unwanted gift returns to rise on ‘Takeback Wednesday’

The number of online purchases being returned daily will rise by 80% on 2January 2019, according to Royal Mail.

The first working day of the year is when most UK consumers will return unwanted and ill-fitting Christmas presents.

The most commonly returned items are clothing (72%), electrical goods (42%) and PC software or hardware (33%).

Women are more likely to return an item if it is not what they expected, while men are more likely to return a non-clothing item because it is incompatible or not useful for its intended purpose, Royal Mail found.

New EU fishing rules ‘could hurt UK industry’

New EU rules on fishing quotas could have a "grave" impact on the UK's fishing industry, a House of Lords committee has said - just a day before the new policy is introduced.

Under previous rules, crews often discarded fish into the sea that took them over their quota for that species.

But under the new policy, fishers must bring the full haul back to shore. This change is to stop fish being wasted.

The legislation has been called "badly designed" by UK industry bodies. The House of Lords EU Energy and Environment sub-committee was told this would be particularly problematic in “mixed fisheries” where it would be hard for boats to avoid catching a fish species for which they have a very low quota.

Iceland to fight HMRC over wage dispute ‘madness’

The CEO and Founder of Iceland Foods has described a dispute with HMRC over the company's Christmas savings scheme as "just madness".

Under the scheme, staff can voluntarily set aside money from their weekly wages and claim it back later. However, HMRC has told the company the payment means staff are technically falling below the minimum wage.

Iceland founder Malcolm Walker intends to fight the HMRC claim, which – if the supermarket loses – could cost the retailer £21m.

HMRC said it did not comment on individual cases.