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This week’s roundup includes news of a fall in motor insurance premiums, a widening of the gender pay gap for women over the age of 40, concerns that an ATM shake-up could leave many without access to cash and significant rises to property prices in the Midlands.  

UK motor insurance premiums ‘fall in fourth quarter’  

The cost of comprehensive motor insurance fell by 1.3% on average in Britain during the fourth quarter of 2017. This is according to the latest index from price comparison site Confused.com, which revealed the average premium for a comprehensive policy is now £827.  

Compiled by Willis Towers Watson, the figures demonstrated that while the cost of motor insurance dropped in the fourth quarter compared to the previous three months, premiums rose by 8% for the full year in 2017.  

The cost of motor insurance has fallen during the past two quarters after the government said it planned to change the way personal injury lump sum payments are calculated - a move that would cut the sum of those payments.  

Motor insurance companies took a hit to profits and insurance premiums increased earlier this year after an unexpectedly large change to the way payouts are calculated.  

Gender pay gap ‘widens as women get older’  

The difference between the amount men and women earn widens as women get older, new research has shown.  

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found differences in pay were smaller at younger ages, but increased from 40 onwards, reaching a peak between 50 and 59. It also found the gender pay gap was entirely in favour of men in every occupation.  

The ONS said the increased pay gap for older women could be explained by them taking time out of work, possibly to start a family. The government has said it is taking action to address pay discrepancies between men and women.  

Commenting on the data, the ONS said that, when modelling the factors that influence pay, the results showed that both men’s and women’s salaries grow for most of their lives.  

It added: “Overall, women's pay grows less than men's and also stops growing earlier than men's pay. This applies to both the private and public sectors.” 

ATM shake-up ‘could leave many without cash’  

Plans to shake up the UK’s ATM network may leave people living in remote areas with little or no access to cash, consumer group Which? has warned.  

Network manager Link says there are currently too many cash machines in places where they are not needed. However, the consumer watchdog said it could lead to “mass closures” of free-to-use machines.  

According to Which?, more than 200 communities in Britain already have poor ATM provision, or no cash machines at all. It said 123 postcode districts did not contain a single ATM, meaning many consumers are reliant on access in nearby villages or towns.  

Gareth Shaw of Which? said: “Link's proposals could place a strain on communities across the UK that are already struggling to access the cash they need following mass [High Street] bank closures. 

"The financial regulator must intervene to avoid this situation getting worse." 

Midlands ‘sees biggest rise to house prices’  

The Midlands saw the fastest growth in house prices in the 12 months to the end of November 2017, official figures have shown.  

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), property values increased by 7.2% in the West Midlands and 6.4% in the East Midlands, while London saw the slowest growth (2.3%) among the English regions.  

The ONS said the typical UK home now costs £226,000. House prices across the UK increased by 5.1% during the year to the end of November. Prices jumped by 5.3% in England, compared with 4.5% in Wales, 3.6% in Scotland and a 6% increase in Northern Ireland over the same period.  

Mortgage data published by UK Finance, which represents the major banks, showed that 34,800 mortgages were advanced to first-time buyers in November, a rise of 15% on the same month of 2016.  

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