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Plan to extend Bereavement Support Payments to unmarried couples

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plan to extend bereavement support payments to unmarried couples
The Government said last week it had a plan to extend Bereavement Support Payments to couples who live together

The Government said last week it had a plan to extend Bereavement Support Payments to couples who live together

The Government said last week it had a plan to extend Bereavement Support Payments to couples who live together

Unmarried parents denied crucial benefits after losing their partner have been given new hope the injustice will soon end.

The Government said last week it had a plan to extend Bereavement Support Payments to couples who live together.  The benefit is £3,500, followed by £350 a month for up to 18 months.

Those who are not entitled to child benefit receive £2,500 and £100 a month.

The shift has taken almost two years since the Supreme Court declared the current law incompatible with human rights.

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BT to miss broadband target company tells ministers

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bt to miss broadband target company tells ministers

BT has told ministers it cannot complete an upgrade of Britain’s broadband network before 2033 without tax breaks and a bonfire of red tape. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously said the entire country should have access to cutting-edge fibre connections by 2025. 

'Not feasible': BT has been aiming for a full fibre roll out by the 'mid 2020s'

'Not feasible': BT has been aiming for a full fibre roll out by the 'mid 2020s'

‘Not feasible’: BT has been aiming for a full fibre roll out by the ‘mid 2020s’

BT has been aiming for a full roll out by the ‘mid 2020s’ but yesterday insisted this was not feasible without more assistance from the Government. 

The telecoms giant wants more relief on business rates, as well as changes to the law so it can more easily access land and buildings. It also wants rules to be put in place ensuring all new homes are connected with fibre cables. 

Most homes in Britain are still connected to BT’s network using Victorian-era copper wires, which offer limited speeds and are expensive to maintain. 

A shift to fibre would provide a huge upgrade and also save BT money on maintenance. 

Under boss Philip Jansen, the company has ploughed billions of pounds into a roll out of the technology. But yesterday BT said research it commissioned found that getting 100 per cent UK coverage by 2025 ‘is going to be tough’. 

Alex Towers, BT’s group director of policy and public affairs, said that under current conditions just 70 per cent of homes and businesses would get fibre by then. He added: ‘Without policy interventions, the Government’s target may not be delivered until 2033.’ 

He said that the plans could get ‘back on track’, with full coverage by 2027, if ministers agreed to the changes being proposed by industry figures including BT.

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Caesars odds-on to win £3bn bid for William Hill

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caesars odds on to win 3bn bid for william hill

A Las Vegas casino operator has emerged as the frontrunner to buy William Hill, making a £3bn bid. 

Caesars Entertainment, which runs the famous Caesars Palace, has entered ‘advanced talks’ with the British bookmaker over a cash offer worth 272p per share. 

The proposal has the backing of William Hill’s board, the American company claimed, dealing a blow to a rival approach made by private equity investor Apollo. 

Tie-up: Caesars Palace casino on the Las Vegas strip and a William Hill betting shop in London

Tie-up: Caesars Palace casino on the Las Vegas strip and a William Hill betting shop in London

Tie-up: Caesars Palace casino on the Las Vegas strip and a William Hill betting shop in London

But the tie-up could be ominous for William Hill’s UK business, which Caesars has said it could sell in future. 

Caesars already operates a joint venture with William Hill in the US, where gambling firms are jostling for a slice of the rapidly-growing sports betting market. 

But it now wants to combine the businesses into one – bringing casinos, sports betting and online operations under one roof. 

However, Caesars also warned that should its deal not go through and the company is instead sold to Apollo, it would cut all ties, which would be a major a blow to William Hill’s US ambitions. 

Tom Reeg, Ceasars’ chief executive, said: ‘The opportunity to combine our land based-casinos, sports betting and online gaming in the US is a truly exciting prospect.’ 

William Hill shares leapt more than 40 per cent on Friday to close at 312.2p, after the takeover battle between Caesars and Apollo was revealed. However, shares fell 11.6 per cent, or 36.3p, to 275.9p yesterday – an amount just above Caesars’ offer. 

Some analysts suggested that the company’s offer undervalued William Hill and that its American operations alone were worth more than the total £2.9billion bid. 

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell said: ‘Caesars isn’t buying William Hill for the humble bookies on your local High Street but for its strong base in the emergent US betting space.’ 

William Hill was founded in 1934 by the eponymous businessman, and its betting shops have gone on to become a well-known fixture on the High Street. At its height the company owned more than 14,000 stores. But this has dwindled to around 1,400, as tougher regulation and growth online have made them less profitable. 

However, the American market has become a new gold rush for British gambling firms after a ban on sports betting was lifted in 2018. Harry Barnick, a gambling analyst at research firm Third Bridge, said: ‘William Hill has something to offer here because of its years of experience operating sports betting in the UK. 

‘One of their most valuable assets is also the customer database they have built up, which contains extensive information about how customers behave.’

£170M JACKPOT FOR DONE BROTHERS

Two gambling tycoons could make more than £170m from the takeover of William Hill. 

Fred and Peter Done, who founded rival bookmaker Betfred, have built a 6 per cent holding in the firm this year. And they will get a handsome payout if it is bought by Caesars Entertainment.

Done deal: Fred (pictured) and Peter Done, who founded rival bookmaker Betfred, have built a 6 per cent holding in the firm this year

Done deal: Fred (pictured) and Peter Done, who founded rival bookmaker Betfred, have built a 6 per cent holding in the firm this year

Done deal: Fred (pictured) and Peter Done, who founded rival bookmaker Betfred, have built a 6 per cent holding in the firm this year

They own 63.1m shares, meaning they would get £171.6m from the offer. The pair are together worth an estimated £1.3billion and first started building a stake in William Hill in March. 

Fred, 77, and Peter, 73, have discussed their humble upbringing in Manchester – or the ‘slums of Salford’, as the younger brother has described it. They left school at 15 but went on to set up their own firm, Done Bookmakers – now Betfred – in 1967. The business boasts annual revenues of £621m and nearly 1,600 shops. 

Fred Done said they had decided to invest in William Hill because its shares had become ‘cheap’ when fears about coronavirus sent stock markets tumbling. Its shares have rallied more than 700 per cent since their March lows.

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Crispin Odey in the dock over groping claims

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crispin odey in the dock over groping claims

Multi-millionaire hedge fund boss Crispin Odey has appeared in court to deny groping a junior banker at his Chelsea home. 

Odey, a 61-year-old Brexiteer and Boris Johnson ally who has donated vast sums to the Tory party, was charged in May with indecently assaulting a young woman in 1998. 

The banker, then in her 20s and at the start of her career, alleges that Odey invited her back to his spacious townhouse on an exclusive street in Chelsea after post-work drinks in a pub. 

Support: Crispin Odey with his wife Nichola Pease outside court in London

Support: Crispin Odey with his wife Nichola Pease outside court in London

Support: Crispin Odey with his wife Nichola Pease outside court in London

There he appeared wearing a dressing gown and ‘launched himself’ at the young woman, putting his hand under her blouse and grabbing her breast over her bra while sliding his hand up her skirt, prosecutors claim. 

Details of the allegations were heard in public for the first time yesterday, as Odey appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court flanked by his wife Nichola Pease, herself a successful fund manager. The couple, once known as the ‘City’s Posh and Becks’ due to their high profile, are worth £825m according to the Sunday Times Rich List. 

Pease, 59, kept her arms folded during the hearing as details of the historic allegations were read out. 

Prosecutor Aaron McCalister said: ‘This assault is said to have taken place by the defendant on the complainant who was then a junior employee of an investment bank in the summer of 1998. 

‘The defendant effectively engineered a situation where they went back to his house. 

‘He said he would change out of his suit and returned in a dressing gown. 

‘The Crown say he launched himself at her, putting one hand on her back, groping her breast and putting his hand up her skirt.’ 

At yesterday’s pre-trial hearing, Odey spoke only to confirm his identity. 

The investor, who founded Odey Asset Management in 1991 and manages around £4billion for clients, was a customer of the investment bank where the young banker worked. 

The prosecution plans to call five witnesses, including four of the woman’s former colleagues and her then-boyfriend. 

The young banker initially made Odey aware that she planned to pursue charges by email in 2013, the court heard yesterday. 

Odey denies the charges, and his trial is scheduled for February 17 and 18 next year at Hendon Magistrates’ Court. 

Due to the nature of the charges, he could choose whether to have them heard in the Magistrates’ Court or in the Crown Court. He opted to have the case heard by magistrates, without a jury. 

In a statement after the court hearing, Odey said: ‘I am pleased that the magistrates have agreed to hear this historic matter quickly.

‘I look forward to having the facts heard and maintain the allegation is untrue.’ 

Odey’s barrister, Crispin Aylett QC, added: ‘This allegation is immensely damaging for Mr Odey both professionally and personally.’ Odey, who has three the biggest donors to the campaign to leave the EU. 

The millionaire, who was educated at Harrow before graduating from Oxford University and qualifying as a barrister, has given almost £900,000 to pro-Brexit campaigns. 

He has donated at least £1.7m to the Conservative party over the last decade, and £100,000 to Boris Johnson’s successful leadership campaign. 

After backing the movement to leave the EU, Odey then made £220m in the aftermath of the referendum as the value of the pound tumbled. 

The hedge fund boss also raked in £115m during the stock market’s coronavirus crash in March this year, he told the Mail on Sunday that month. 

Odey and Pease’s family home is a Grade II listed mansion, Eastbach Court, in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire. 

The pair raised eyebrows in 2012 when they filed a planning application to build a £150,000 chicken coop, which stood taller than a bungalow and was replete with Roman-style columns. 

Before he married Pease in 1991, Odey was briefly married to Prudence Murdoch, media tycoon Rupert Murdoch’s eldest daughter.

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