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Equilibrium's Finance and Investment News Roundup

Following another busy seven days in the world of finance and investment, we report on suggestions that a new flat-rate pension relief will be fairer to all, new findings revealing the cities with the highest weekly wages, disappointing Christmas sales figures for UK retailers and a reduction in revenue for easyJet following the Paris terror attacks.


ABI proposes 'fairer' flat-rate pension relief

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has suggested that a new system of flat-rate tax relief on pension contributions would prove fairer to everyone. The ABI is proposing the idea of a new Savers' Bonus to Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, which it says would treat all taxpayers equally and would prove particularly beneficial to the lower paid.

According to the trade association, such a move would provide a boost for ordinary workers, especially those who only receive 20% tax relief compared to the 40% or 45% enjoyed by those on higher incomes.

Yvonne Braun, Director of Long-term Savings Policy at the ABI, said: "A single rate of tax relief would be simpler, fairer and more sustainable for all savers."

However, critics of the proposed changes have voiced concerns that a single rate would in fact prove of little benefit for any savers. 

UK cities with highest weekly wages revealed

New research carried out by think tank Centre for Cities has revealed the UK cities with the highest average weekly wage. The report looked at the health of the UK's top 63 city-economies and found wages were highest in London (£629), Reading (£591) and Aldershot (£571), while the lowest were found to be in Hull (£376), Blackburn (£404) and Blackpool (£414).

The findings suggest that there remains a clear north-south divide and uncovered a difference of £253 in average weekly wages between the highest and lowest paid. The report also showed that many people are having to top up their wages with welfare benefits, with just one in four cities enjoying a 'high wage, low welfare' economy.

Alexandra Jones, Chief Executive of Centre for Cities, commented: "One of the most pressing issues is the need to tackle skills gaps and improve school attainment. As well as investment in infrastructure, the top priority should be on addressing housing shortages." 

'Disappointing' Christmas sales figures for UK retailers

Retailers in the UK endured a difficult Christmas period as the volume of goods sold in shops in December dropped by 1% compared to the previous month. This is according to new findings from the Office for National Statistics, which also revealed prices dipped by 3.2% over the year as stores looked to reduce the cost of goods due to competition from discount retailers.

Despite this, it was shown that sales volumes climbed by 2.6% over 2015 as a whole. However, when compared with November, the total amount spent in the retail industry in December was down 1.4%. David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, described the slowdown in December as disappointing. 

easyJet: Paris attacks impacted revenue

The terrorist attacks in Paris in November impacted revenue for low-cost airline easyJet, with demand for travel toward the end of 2015 weakened due to security fears. The airline posted a 3.7% reduction in revenue per seat on a constant currency basis in the quarter ending December 31st and cited the events in Paris and a plane crash over Egypt in October as reasons for people becoming increasingly reluctant to travel for leisure.

According to easyJet, 2% of the 3.7% fall can be attributed to security fears linked to the attacks in the French capital, which made headlines around the world.