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07 Dec 2017

BY Gary Noakes

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Barclays: ‘Holidays price hike unlikely’

No big holiday price increases are predicted for 2018, according to a Barclays boss.

Chris Lee
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“The anecdotal feedback from our customers is that we don’t expect any big increases”

Chris Lee, Barclays’ head of travel, said sterling’s fall against the dollar and euro following the Brexit vote looked to have levelled out. And he said dealings with clients had led him to expect no big price rises next year.


“The anecdotal feedback from our customers is that we don’t expect any big increases,” he told delegates at the Travel Conference, hosted by law firm Pinsent Masons.


Some had initially feared significant price hikes following last year’s Brexit referendum which triggered a devaluation of sterling, but Lee said: “That was 18 months ago, most companies are hedged for 12-15 months, so we are already past that.”


Looking ahead, Lee said the exchange rate outlook had stabilised. Barclays Investment Bank’s current sterling rates were set at $1.33 and €1.11 now, with the 12-month euro rate remaining at exactly the same level and the dollar at $1.38.


Elsewhere the conference examined the issue of fake sickness claims, with one health and safety lawyer insisting that tough action by the industry was starting to reap results.


Sean Elson, partner with law firm Pinsent Masons, said two landmark cases, including a private prosecution brought by Thomas Cook, had slowed the volume of fake illness claims.


Speaking at the conference, Elson said the jailing of Thomas Cook client Paul Roberts for 15 months and Deborah Briton for 9 months after they claimed nearly £20,000 for fake gastric illness was “a robust response to frankly, a pair of charlatans”.


He said: “The sentences were surprising and sent out a serious message; 15 months and 9 months and not suspended but immediate. It has brought about the desired result. There is anecdotal evidence that the claims are receding.”


However, he warned that a quick Google search showed how serious the situation remained, with numerous firms offering to act for clients in bringing complaints about holiday illness.


Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer added: “The growth of claims has started to come off and there is a growing awareness that there is not a pot of money you can access.”


Abta is pushing for a limit to the amount of fees that law firms can claim with a move to a fixed cost regime. However Tanzer added that claims companies were not urging applicants to get in quick before legislation is introduced.


“Law firms are not saying there is a closing down sale before the law changes,” he said.

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