A "disgraceful" lack of financial education is costing the UK around £3.4bn a year, a report warned today.

The cost to the taxpayer of subsidising the retirement of people who have not saved enough for their later years could be slashed by a third if more were done to combat "financial illiteracy", the study for consumer help website MoneySavingExpert said.

The report looked at how people armed with better financial skills would be more likely to plan their retirement effectively, boost their job prospects, steer clear of excessive debt and spend their cash more wisely.

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PROFITS JUMP: The Spanish owner of fashion chain Zara posted a 27 per cent rise in profits today after another year of rapid expansion at the retail giant. Inditex added 360 new stores in 54 different markets in the nine months to October 31 and said its estate has since reached the 6,000 mark with last week's opening of a new flagship store on London's Oxford Street. The latest openings helped power a 17 per cent rise in net sales to £9.2bn for the nine-month period. Profits improved to £1.3bn.

NEW AQUISITION: Retail chain Pets at Home has acquired Ride-Away, an equestrian-based business with online and catalogue operations and a 15,000 sq ft store in York. The family-owned firm was set up in 1980 and achieved sales of £6.7m in 2011.

MOTOR RIGHTS: Around 1,600 hours of programming and over 3,000 different episodes from former digital channel Men and Motors have been sold to One Media, which specialises in acquiring music and video rights. The portfolio includes Motor Mania presented by Richard Hammond and The Vinnie Jones Show.

WEAKER TREND: Building materials supplier Travis Perkins, which includes the Wickes DIY business, said like-for-like sales trends were similar to those reported in October, with the year-to-date figure slightly lower at minus 1.8 per cent.

STORES OPEN: Flagship North-East shopping centre, Metrocentre, has seen 18 new retailers open since September. New additions include a 15,000sq ft catering area, high street chains Mamas and Papas, BANK and H&M, designer store Tessuti, and a champagne bar, 360 Champagne and Cocktails, which is the first addition to the Platinum Mall development which will start to develop over the coming months.