Wednesday Newspaper round up.

The FT.

Unilever has struck a deal with two of the biggest unions representing its employes to cut pension benefits after a seven-month stand-off with workers that saw the Anglo-Dutch multinational suffer its first nationwide strikes. The move comes after the maker of Dove shampoo and Flora margarine sweetened terms during last-ditch talks with unions last month. The unions, irked at the closure of the company’s final salary pension scheme last year and less generous terms offered by its replacement, staged strikes across the UK in December and January,

The Daily Mail.

Tens of thousands of retired savers already drawing a pension will suffer a crippling drop in income over the next 12 months, Money Mail can reveal. A change in government rules, volatile stock markets and rock-bottom pension payouts have combined to devastate the incomes of those with a type of pension popular with middle-class savers. These income drawdown plans allow retirees to keep their pension pot invested in the stock market, but draw a monthly income from it at the same time.The amount paid out is reviewed every few years. But those being set new payouts today are finding thousands of pounds have been stripped from their income.

Homeowners are being urged to take into account interest rates and arrangement fees when choosing their mortgage. Data from analysts Moneyfacts reveals mortgage fees have rocketed in the three years since the Bank Of England base rate dropped to 0.5  per cent. In that time, the average two-year fixed-rate has fallen by 0.19 percentage points to 4.6 per cent, while the average arrangement fee has increased by £321 to £1,502.

The Daily Telegraph.

BAA reported a 4pc rise in traffic at its airports in March compared with a year earlier, helped by increased business with emerging market countries and an early Easter. BAA said 8.6 million passengers travelled through its airports at Heathrow, Stansted, Southampton, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow. The company said in statement that 5.7 million passengers passed through London Heathrow, helped by strong   growth to the emerging market countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China. Traffic to and from Brazil has increased 62.3pc. Overall, traffic at Heathrow rose 6.9pc.

Charities warn that their funding is under threat after Downing Street   launched an attack on wealthy individuals who benefit from tax relief on  donations. A spokesman for David Cameron yesterday said that multimillionaires are  donating to charities which do little work for good causes to “wipe out” their income tax bills. George Osborne, the Chancellor, plans to limit tax breaks for donations to good causes after being “shocked” by the scale of tax avoidance.

Barclays is facing a growing shareholder revolt over the £17.7m pay deal awarded to its chief executive, Bob Diamond, after the UK’s largest investor group issued an “amber top” alert on the package. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) on Tuesday sent its members, who include most of the UK’s largest insurance groups and investment funds, a note raising concerns over Mr Diamond’s pay. In particular, the ABI questioned a £5.75m contribution by Barclays to settle a tax bill he incurred when moving from the US to the UK to take charge of the bank last year. The “tax-equalisation” payment has been the subject of controversy since it was revealed by Barclays last month in its annual report.
Britain’s retailers had something to cheer about in March after unusually warm weather encouraged shoppers and drove up sales. The total value of retail sales rose 3.6% last month compared with a year earlier, following a 2.3% increase in February, according to the British Retail Consortium/KPMG report. The rise was driven by clothing, footwear and outdoor leisure, bucking the recent trend for falling non-food sales, as consumers bought sandals and clothing suitable for the warmer weather. Footwear sales were the strongest since April 2007. The upbeat report will reinforce hopes that Britain avoided sliding back into recession in the first quarter. It was the best March performance since 2010, when total sales increased by 6.6%, helped by Easter falling in that month,

The Times.

The UK will attempt to sell arms to Indonesia for the first time in 13 years today when defence companies arrive as part of David Cameron’s trade mission. In the latest leg of the Prime Minister’s tour of South-East Asia, he will attempt to reopen Britain’s defence trade with the Government in Jakarta. Labour imposed a ban in 1999 amid allegations that the former military regime had used British-built Hawk jets to bomb separatists in East Timor. Britain’s arms industry has been working hard to woo Indonesia. Last year there were talks about selling Eurofighter Typhoons to the country, but these broke down.

Energy suppliers will have to tell customers who are overpaying for their electricity & gas to switch to the cheapest deal, under a new government initiative. From this autumn, the six biggest suppliers, EDF Energy, E.ON, British Gas, Scottish and Southern Energy, ScottishPower and RWE npower, will write to their customers once a year outlining their different tariffs. They will have to inform vulnerable customers such as pensioners twice a year and also will have to offer their cheapest deal to customers who come to the end of their fixed-term contract.

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