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Airlines agree to include surcharges in headline price

Debit card charges to be included in advertised price

Twelve airlines have agreed to include debit card surcharges in their advertised price rather than adding it to the stated price at the end of the online booking process. The airlines, which include budget airlines Easyjet and Ryanair, have also agreed to make clear any extra charges for the use of credit cards much earlier for online bookers.

The change comes after the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) launched an investigation following concerns that "customers were being misled about the level and/or existence of payment card surcharges".

Other airlines that have made similar agreements currently include Thomas Cook, Lufthansa and Jet2. The government has claimed to be looking into possible legislation that could push other companies to adopt similar policies.

The OFT have said that companies will still be able to charge additional costs for the use of credit cards as this can be more expensive to process, the key however will be transparency and all additional charges will have to be clearly stated much earlier in the booking process.

The OFT's chief executive Clive Maxwell has expressed his satisfaction with the outcome, claiming that the results are positive for the "millions of people who buy flights online".

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.