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UK car insurance prices drop 7.1 per cent in the second quarter

But men are still paying £110 more than women on average.

Driven by competition, the average cost of car insurance in the UK fell by 7.1 per cent to £797 in the second quarter of 2012, according to a new index compiled by the price comparison website and Towers Watson, a global consulting firm.

Despite the decline and impending gender directive implementation, men are still paying on average £110 more than women and drivers aged between 17 and 20 are being quoted comprehensive premiums of £2,491.

The average price for 17-to-20-year-old male drivers in Manchester/Merseyside is £5,394, while in central Scotland, they are quoted a more modest £2,999. Young male drivers aged 20 or younger in inner London can expect to pay an average of £5,330 per year.

Regionally, the west of England has seen the biggest fall in prices, as average premiums for comprehensive cover dropped by 10.5 per cent year on year. The largest year-on-year price drop of 10.5 per cent was recorded for 21-year-olds.

Gareth Kloet, head of car insurance at, said:

Competition between car insurance providers is currently very high, which means it’s a great time to get a deal on your car insurance. At we have more than 130 insurers competing for customers and so drivers can benefit from this competitive market by shopping around.

When it comes to men versus women, any gender differences have to be factored out of quotations after December this year and so other factors such as the type of car you drive and the distances you expect to cover will become more important in the quote process. We anticipate that drivers will continue to reduce their annual mileage as a result of high motoring costs and seek cheaper vehicles in their search for more affordable cover.

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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.