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Need To Know: Calls to change law on bereavement benefits for unmarried couples

■ Calls to change law on bereavement benefits for unmarried couples

THE government is facing calls to change the law on bereavement benefits after a Supreme Court victory for an unmarried mother.

Siobhan McLaughlin (pictured above), 46, was refused the benefit after her partner of 23 years John Adams died from cancer in January 2014 because the couple, who had four children, were not married or in a civil partnership.

But, by a majority of four justices to one, the Supreme Court ruled today that the current law on the allowance is ‘incompatible’ with Human Rights legislation.

Giving the lead judgment, the court’s President Lady Hale said the couple’s children ‘should not suffer this disadvantage’ because their parents chose not to marry.

Campaigners urged the government to update the law to accommodate cohabiting couples.

Alison Penny, director of the Childhood Bereavement Network, said the current rules affect an estimated 2,000 families a year.

■ Children to be banned from buying energy drinks

CHILDREN in England are to be banned from buying energy drinks under government plans.

Youngsters in the UK reportedly consume more of the high-caffeine, sugar-loaded drinks than other children in Europe and the habit is harming their health and education, ministers fear.

The restrictions will apply to drinks with more than 150mg of caffeine per litre, like popular brands Red Bull, Monster and Relentless.

Excessive consumption has been linked to a host of health and behaviour problems in children, from headaches to hyperactivity.

Many major retailers already refuse to sell to under-16s but the government intends to introduce a blanket ban under plans put out for consultation, with restrictions on either under-18s or under-16s being considered.

■ Troubled Wonga stops taking new loan requests

WONGA has stopped taking new loan applications as the struggling payday lender teeters on the brink of collapse.

The news comes days after it emerged that the company had lined up Grant Thornton to act as administrator in case the lender’s board decides it cannot be rescued.

A statement on its website read: ‘While it continues to assess its options Wonga has decided to stop taking loan applications.

‘If you are an existing customer you can continue to use our services to manage your loan.’

Yesterday, Wonga held emergency talks with the Financial Conduct Authority over the impact of its collapse on existing customers.

It is thought the company will make an announcement later today regarding its future.

■ Summer’s final flurry expected with highs of 25C

SUMMER will wag its tail for possibly the final time this year with temperatures expected to soar to an unseasonably balmy 25C (77F) in the coming days.

The start of September — seen by many to mark the dawn of autumn — will be met by some fine dry and warm temperatures, with the south coast of England expected to get the best of the weather.

The forecast is in keeping with much of that which has gone before it in recent months, having enjoyed — or endured — a summer dominated by extreme heat and low rainfall.

Marco Petagna, senior forecaster with the Met Office, said: ‘As we get into the weekend and early next week we can expect highs of 23C (73F) and 24C (75F) on Saturday in the south east of England, maybe 25C on Sunday, and maybe even slightly higher on the Monday.’