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Priory is put up for sale AGAIN at £1bn

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priory is put up for sale again at 1bn

The American owner of the Priory Group has confirmed that Britain’s largest private mental healthcare provider is back on the market for an estimated £1billion.

Debbie Osteen, head of US-listed Acadia Healthcare, which owns the Priory, said in a statement: ‘We have notified potential buyers that we will shortly relaunch the formal process regarding the sale of our UK business.’

The Mail on Sunday revealed in July that Acadia was preparing to revive the sale of the Priory in the autumn. 

The Priory's centres have treated some of Britain's best-known celebrities: Model Kate Moss and singer Robbie Williams (pictured) have sought treatment there

The Priory's centres have treated some of Britain's best-known celebrities: Model Kate Moss and singer Robbie Williams (pictured) have sought treatment there

The Priory’s centres have treated some of Britain’s best-known celebrities: Model Kate Moss and singer Robbie Williams (pictured) have sought treatment there

It is at least the third time that Acadia has tried to sell the Priory since it bought it in 2016 for almost £1.3billion from the private equity firm Advent International. 

Acadia said in March it had been forced to halt the sale following the market turmoil caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Priory was founded in 1980 with the purchase of a hospital in Roehampton, South-West London. It has grown substantially since then and now runs more than 300 centres across the UK.

They have treated some of Britain’s best-known celebrities. Model Kate Moss, singer Robbie Williams and socialite Lady Isabella Hervey have all sought treatment there. 

But recently the Priory has seen a string of controversies over the treatment of some patients at some of its centres.

Bankers said the most serious potential buyer is Germany’s Schoen Klinik, backed by US private equity firm Carlyle.

Australia’s Ramsay Health Care and private equity firm CapVest have also been circling the Priory.

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I paid £1.4k to change flights but now BA are taking £600 off my refund

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i paid 1 4k to change flights but now ba are taking 600 off my refund

In December 2019 I booked flights from Gatwick to Orlando with British Airways for October 2020 to celebrate my husband’s 70th birthday and our 40th wedding anniversary.

I booked three adults and one child but the following day realised I had made a mistake on the internet booking and had only booked one week instead of two.

I phoned British Airways and was told that to change the flights it would cost me an additional £1,400 which I paid, making a total charge of approximately £4,500. 

Due to Covid, BA cancelled the flight out to Orlando so I asked for the booking to be refunded.

But then they informed me that £600 of the original additional fee was a penalty charge for changing the booking and this sum would not be refunded to me. What can I do?

British Airways charged a passenger a penalty fare on top of a fee to change flights

British Airways charged a passenger a penalty fare on top of a fee to change flights

British Airways charged a passenger a penalty fare on top of a fee to change flights

Grace Gausden, This is Money, replies: Both airlines and holidaymakers have had a tough time this year, thanks to the ongoing pandemic.

Travellers have struggled to get refunds from their carriers since March when thousands of flights to countries all over the world were cancelled.

Many are still now trying to reclaim money from airlines for bookings cancelled months ago, with some carriers seeming to delay refund payments and blaming the backlog of applications.  

In your situation, however, the refund itself is not the issue but rather the penalty fare that British Airways is charging you.

You admit the initial booking mistake was your fault and willingly paid the £1,400 to rectify the situation – despite how costly this was.

At the time, you assumed this was the end of the matter as all flights had been changed and paid for in advance.

However, when trying to claim a refund after the holiday was cancelled, you were told it would be made minus the £600 penalty. 

Thousands of flights were cancelled earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic

Thousands of flights were cancelled earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic

Thousands of flights were cancelled earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic

You say you were never informed that a penalty fee was applied and were led to believe that the £1,400 you paid back in December last year was the difference in flight prices.

Since being told this was in fact partly the difference in flight costs, and partly a fee to change your booking, you have emailed British Airways four times but each time you say it has ignored specific questions you have asked them. 

These includes providing the name of the body that regulates their actions.

You have also said that BA staff keep repeating that according to their terms and conditions penalty charges are non-refundable. 

After speaking to British Airways, This is Money was told that the £1,400 paid by you in December 2019 was the fare difference in flights and a £600 penalty fare consisting of a £150 per person charge for changing the flights. 

BA told us that there are a variety of flight options, for example, flexible tickets that allow customers to change with a small charge. 

However, you booked tickets where changing the flights would be more expensive.  

Fortunately, since we contacted the airline, they have agreed to refund the £600 to you.  

A spokesman for British Airways replies: We are in contact with our customer to confirm the refund has been made.

Grace Gausden, This is Money, adds: In situations like this, it is frustrating that such a large charge can be made with no explanation.   

On the BA website, it has a calculator that shows how much customers might be charged if they decide to change their flights. 

When putting in the option to change flights through an airport ticket office, the maximum fee comes up at £40 – although BA does say extra charges could be made. 

It adds that penalty charges may differ depending on cabin class and fare price.  

For those who have a problem with their airline booking and getting a situation resolved, the first thing they should do is contact the carrier directly. 

If you have made a written complaint and are not satisfied with the outcome or have not received a reply within eight weeks, the Civil Aviation Authority’s passenger advice and complaints team may be able to help.

They will advise on whether they think you have a valid complaint and, if so, will take it up with the business concerned. However, the CAA does not have the legal powers to impose a resolution on an airline.  

If a traveller is dissatisfied with the opinion the CAA has provided, they can take legal action against the airline or airport, but cannot appeal against the CAA’s decision.

In addition, there are strict time limits in relation to taking legal action therefore, the CAA will not handle complaints where there is less than a year to take legal action.

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How do I get free grandparent state pension credits?

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how do i get free grandparent state pension credits

I would really appreciate some clarification on the scheme that allows a family member to allocate their unused National Insurance contribution to grandparents who look after grandchildren to allow their adult children to work.

I understand that working parents who are eligible and claim child benefit (and who also receive pension credits through paid employment) can only benefit from one type each year so the other is lost.

However, they can sign over the unused one to a grandparent who helps to look after the children for work purposes.

Childcare: How often do I need to care for my grandchildren to get free state pension credits? (Stock image)

Childcare: How often do I need to care for my grandchildren to get free state pension credits? (Stock image)

Childcare: How often do I need to care for my grandchildren to get free state pension credits? (Stock image)

Please can you tell me how this scheme works? How often must you care for your grandchildren? Does looking after them after school and when they cannot attend nursery or school or for covering changes in work patterns (such as on call) and during school holidays count?

I am concerned that if my adult children give me their NI contribution it might harm their future state pension and does it depend on how long they have been claiming the benefit for their children – eight years seems to stick in my mind?

Also does it depend on how much they earn or how many hours they work?

I am sure there are many grandparents out there who are unaware of this scheme or who have similar questions. Any advice would be very much appreciated.

SCROLL DOWN TO FIND OUT HOW TO ASK STEVE YOUR PENSION QUESTION       

Steve Webb replies: The scheme that you are describing came into being in April 2011 but is still not well known, so I’m pleased to have this opportunity to draw attention to it.

As you say, the idea is to allow a working parent who is receiving child benefit to allocate the National Insurance credit which comes from receiving child benefit to another family member who is helping to look after that child.

In many cases that family member will be a grandparent, but the scheme covers a long list of other family members such as aunts and uncles.

For this reason, although the scheme is informally known as a system of ‘grandparents credits’, the official title is the ‘specified adult childcare credit’.

Steve Webb: Find out how to ask the former Pensions Minister a question about your retirement savings in the box below

Steve Webb: Find out how to ask the former Pensions Minister a question about your retirement savings in the box below

Steve Webb: Find out how to ask the former Pensions Minister a question about your retirement savings in the box below

The first stage is to identify a National Insurance credit that is not being used.

A typical example would be a parent (most commonly a mother, but not necessarily) who is receiving child benefit and also in paid work.

Receipt of child benefit for a child under 12 generates a credit towards someone’s National Insurance record.

But being in paid work and earning more than the lower earnings limit (currently £120 per week) also means that your National Insurance record is protected.

In such a situation, the NI credit that comes with the child benefit is going spare, and the parent loses nothing by signing it over to someone else.

The person receiving child benefit can complete a form and sign over this spare credit to a ‘specified adult’ who is helping to look after the child.

There is no requirement for a minimum number of hours of care.

Indeed, during the Covid-19 pandemic, HMRC indicated that for 19/20 and 20/21 they would even count childcare via video link, given the restrictions on family members getting together in the same place.

To benefit from receiving the credit, the person doing the childcare has to be under pension age, as NI credits do not count for years beyond pension age.

The credit is awarded on a weekly basis, so for each week during which you are helping out, one week of credits is awarded.

In theory, this could mean that the grandparent ended up with gaps for a few weeks over the course of a year, but those gaps could then be filled very cheaply with voluntary NI contributions just for the missing weeks.

Child benefit and the state pension 

This is Money is campaigning on behalf of parents who end up with a smaller state pension because of mistakes over child benefit forms. 

Have you lost state pension by not signing up because you don’t qualify, or putting the ‘wrong’ partner’s name down?

If this has happened to you, contact tanya.jefferies@thisismoney.co.uk and tell us your story.

In some families there will be more than one family member helping to look after the children.

In this case the parent who is getting the child benefit has to choose who benefits from the National Insurance credit.

Unfortunately, because there is only one credit for each family (rather than one credit per child), only one other family member can benefit when the credit is transferred.

To pick up on your other questions, the credit can be signed over as soon as the parent starts receiving child benefit.

Furthermore, it is however possible to backdate claims if you have been looking after grandchildren for someone who has been receiving child benefit for a number of years.

As the scheme was introduced in 2011, this may be why you recall hearing something about going back eight years or so.

Although the rules may seem quite complex, the basic idea is relatively simple.

It means that grandparents (or other family members) who may be spending time looking after young children do not damage their own National Insurance record as a result.

The numbers taking up the credit are gradually rising but, as you say, it deserves to be more widely known.

Full details of how to claim can be found here. 

Ask Steve Webb a pension question

Former Pensions Minister Steve Webb is This Is Money’s Agony Uncle.

He is ready to answer your questions, whether you are still saving, in the process of stopping work, or juggling your finances in retirement.

Steve left the Department of Work and Pensions after the May 2015 election. He is now a partner at actuary and consulting firm Lane Clark & Peacock.

If you would like to ask Steve a question about pensions, please email him at pensionquestions@thisismoney.co.uk.

Steve will do his best to reply to your message in a forthcoming column, but he won’t be able to answer everyone or correspond privately with readers. Nothing in his replies constitutes regulated financial advice. Published questions are sometimes edited for brevity or other reasons.

Please include a daytime contact number with your message – this will be kept confidential and not used for marketing purposes.

If Steve is unable to answer your question, you can also contact The Pensions Advisory Service, a Government-backed organisation which gives free help to the public. TPAS can be found here and its number is 0800 011 3797.

Steve receives many questions about state pension forecasts and COPE – the Contracted Out Pension Equivalent. If you are writing to Steve on this topic, he responds to a typical reader question here. It includes links to Steve’s several earlier columns about state pension forecasts and contracting out, which might be helpful.  

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ITV, KPMG and Diageo are among 20 top firms in race pledge

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itv kpmg and diageo are among 20 top firms in race pledge

ITV, KPMG and Diageo are among 20 top firms pledging to have at least one ethnic-minority director on their boards by 2024. 

The group, which also includes PwC, Axa and Pearson, will publish a plan to increase diversity at the highest levels and disclose the ethnicity pay gap within two years as part of the Confederation of British Industry’s Change the Race Ratio campaign. 

Change: ITV is part of a group that will publish a plan to increase diversity at the highest levels

Change: ITV is part of a group that will publish a plan to increase diversity at the highest levels

Change: ITV is part of a group that will publish a plan to increase diversity at the highest levels

A report in February found 37 FTSE 100 firms had no black or ethnic-minority directors. 

This month, Legal & General, one of Britain’s biggest institutional investors, told FTSE100 firms with all-white boards it will vote against them unless they hire an ethnic-minority director within 15 months.

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