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This week’s roundup includes news that the planned merger between SSE and npower could be fully investigated, the rail industry has launched a consultation into ticketing improvements and a new report has listed ways to heal the ‘inter-generational’ divide – including giving 25 year olds a £10,000 payment. 

Competition investigation launched for SSE npower merger

Plans for a merger between ‘big six’ energy suppliers SSE and npower face an in-depth investigation by regulators amid fears the deal could mean higher bills for households.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) found after an initial inquiry that the tie-up could reduce competition. It added that SSE and npower ‘did not offer measures to address the CMA's concerns’ so it has referred the merger for a ‘phase 2’ probe, with a deadline for the final report on 22 October.

The deal, agreed in November, would see SSE and Innogy - npower's German owner - demerge their UK supply operations to create a new London-listed company.

It would consolidate SSE's position as the country's second largest supplier of household energy behind Centrica-owned British Gas, with a combined customer base of more than 11 million and revenues of £11bn.

Rail industry plans fares overhaul

Britain's rail companies are to launch a public consultation aimed at making ticketing fairer and easier to use.

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents rail firms, said about 55 million different fares exist in the current system, admitting long-standing anomalies mean passengers are not currently always offered the cheapest fare.

The industry has pledged that average fares will not rise as a result of any reform.

A reformed ticketing system could include integrated tickets covering other modes of transport, such as buses and trams, and more flexible tickets for part-time workers, the RDG said.

The consultation will be launched next month and will run until September, leading to a report containing proposals for governments to consider.

Tax on pensioners proposed to heal inter-generational divide

A £10,000 payment should be given to the young and pensioners taxed more, a new report into inter-generational fairness in the UK suggests.

The research and policy organisation, the Resolution Foundation, says these radical moves are needed to better fund the NHS and maintain social cohesion. Its chairman, Lord Willetts, said the contract between young and old had ‘broken down’.

The Resolution Foundation says its goal is to improve outcomes for people on low and modest incomes.

The foundation's Intergenerational Commission report calls for an NHS ‘levy’ of £2.3bn paid for by increased national insurance contributions by those over the age of 65.

It says that all young people should receive a £10,000 windfall at the age of 25 to help pay for a deposit on a home, start a business or improve their education or skills.

The report proposes that this money be raised by abolishing inheritance tax and replacing it with a lifetime limit for recipients of £125,000 before taxes kick in. The commission estimates this would raise £5bn.

Insurers pledge fairer premiums for long-term customers

The insurance industry has pledged to crack down on ‘excessive’ differences in premiums for new customers and existing policyholders.

The plan aims to iron out some of the controversial big differences between premiums for new and existing clients.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) and the British Insurance Brokers' Association (BIBA) have introduced a number of guiding principles and action points to bring about ‘an improvement in the outcomes for long-standing customers’.

The move follows new rules that force firms to display the previous year's premium on renewal notices.

The new guidelines apply to home, motor and travel insurance, but not pet or health cover.