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Pension credit claims pushed as the number of retirees living in poverty tops 2 million

Pension income issues have been prevalent for a number of years as large swathes of the retired population struggle to get by. This issue has recently been highlighted once again by Age UK, the UK’s leading charity for older people.

“Official figures show that a third of Asian older people (33 percent) and just under a third of Black older people (30 percent) in the UK live below the poverty line, compared to 16 percent of White older people.

“The over-85s, renters, and single, female pensioners, are also at greater risk of poverty than the older population as a whole. The total number of older people living in poverty in the UK now stands at 2.1 million.

“Despite these high numbers and recent government figures showing that nearly a million older people could not afford an unexpected bill of £200, nearly a million (920,000) pensioner households are missing out on pension credit payments worth up to £1.6billion every year – that’s an average of £32 a week, or over £1,600 a year, per recipient.”

Age UK went on to share the story of Pam, a 75 year old who contacted the charity for advice.

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Pam detailed: “I’ve had really bad periods when I can’t even open the bills, the letters. It’s been that bad, and I’ve had to wait for my daughter to come, and she’s had to go through everything. I was struggling financially a bit. I have a state pension and a small one through the county council. A lady from the Age UK Advice line said: ‘I can get someone to ring you to do a benefits check for you’. So then I got the call from a lady at Age UK Lincoln, she rang me to talk about it. I never dreamed at any point that with my income that I was actually entitled to any benefits. She did a benefits check for me and helped me fill the forms in.

“I now get attendance allowance and pension credit – which is an extra £51 a week, but it’s the other benefits that come with it too. I don’t pay council tax anymore – even with a quarter discount off, I was still paying about £1000 a year, which is a huge amount of money. And now I’m 75, I get my free TV licence. Without Age UK, I wouldn’t have known about any of that.

“Having the Age UK benefits check has made a huge difference to my life. With that little bit of extra money, it’s enabled me to buy things that make my life easier. I’ve got a better shower chair – it’s much safer. When everything opened up last time, I had a chiropodist come to do my feet which I could never have afforded. I don’t worry so much about my bills now, and that is a huge thing when you suffer with depression, anxiety, and low mood sometimes. When those letters come, I just can’t; I just can’t deal with them, you know, and so as a result of the Age UK benefits check, it’s taken away any worries about anything.”

Len Goodman and Rustie Lee, two Age UK Ambassadors, supported the call for older people to find out if they’re entitled to pension credit.

Len said: “Older people are so resilient and tend to know how to make do, but it doesn’t have to be like that for those who are struggling to manage day-to-day bills.

“Pension Credit is a benefit for low-income pensioners to help cover the costs of later life. Lots of people don’t even know it exists, meaning almost a million older households are not getting the extra money they are entitled to. For those that have claimed, it can mean being able to stick the heating on for longer or having the money to buy essentials for their home to keep well and safe.

“That’s why I’m supporting Age UK efforts to raise more awareness about this benefit. There’s help out there and Age UK can support older people throughout the whole process – from information gathering to form filling. Please, I would urge anyone who’s watching the pennies to find out more and see if they can make a claim. Pension credit not only gives you more money each week, it can also be a gateway to other help too.”

Rustie also heeded this: “It’s so important for everyone who’s feeling the pinch at the moment to see if they might be entitled to claim some extra help. It’s just shocking that so many older people can’t afford the basics such as decent, healthy food or keeping their house nice and warm.

“Pension credit is a really important benefit that can make a big difference to older people on a budget, giving them a bit of extra cash to pay for things that most people take for granted. I’d urge any older person who is struggling to make ends meet at the moment to speak to Age UK to find out if they could be eligible for pension credit, it could make all the difference and open the door to lots of other financial support too. There’s absolutely nothing to lose by making a claim!”

Caroline Abrahams, a Charity Director at Age UK, concluded with similar calls.

She said: “The numbers of older people living in poverty have risen steadily in the last few years, so they now top two million. That’s a lot of older people worried sick about how they’ll cope if their heating or their cooker breaks down and needs replacing, more than the entire populations of Newcastle and Liverpool put together.

“It’s sad to realise that the burden of poverty in old age is falling disproportionately on Black and Asian older people in our society at the moment. For their sake and, indeed, for the sake of anyone forced to scrimp and save in their later years, we should do everything possible to raise their incomes, so they can enjoy the dignified and comfortable retirement they deserve.

“It’s deeply frustrating that the money is available to top up the incomes of pensioners who live on the lowest incomes but that much of it goes begging every year because many never claim what is rightfully theirs. We really do want older people to obtain their full entitlements, particularly pension credit because this can open the door to additional support – but that means putting in a claim.

“There are many reasons why older people don’t claim, including lack of awareness, worry about filling in long forms or disclosing personal information, feeling there is always someone worse off than they are, or being determined not to ask for help, even though in reality they badly need it.

“The great thing about pension credit is that it not only gives older people extra cash in their pocket, it can also open the door to other benefits such as a free TV licence for the over-75s, free NHS dental treatment, hospital transport, help with council tax and rent, and Cold Weather Payments. We’re urging anyone who is struggling financially to get in touch for a free benefits check – it could make a huge difference to the rest of their lives.”

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Finance Feed

AP: Full-blown boycott pushed for Beijing Olympics

The Beijing Games are set to open on Feb. 4, 2022.

WASHINGTON — Groups alleging human-rights abuses against minorities in China are calling for a full-blown boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, a move likely to ratchet up pressure on the International Olympic Committee, athletes, sponsors and sports federations.
A coalition representing Uyghurs, Tibetans, residents of Hong Kong and others issued a statement Monday calling for the boycott, eschewing lesser measures that had been floated like “diplomatic boycotts” and further negotiations with the IOC or China.
“The time for talking with the IOC is over,” Lhadon Tethong of the Tibet Action Institute said in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press. “This cannot be games as usual or business as usual; not for the IOC and not for the international community.”
The Beijing Games are set to open on Feb. 4, 2022, just six months after the postponed Summer Olympics in Tokyo are to end.
Rights groups have met several times in the last year with the IOC, asking that the games be removed from China. A key member in those talks was Zumretay Arkin of the World Uyghur Congress.
Tethong, herself, was detained and deported from China in 2007 — a year before the Beijing Summer Olympics — for leading a campaign for Tibet.
“The situation where we are now is demonstrably worse that it was then,” Tethong said, pointing out that the IOC said the 2008 Olympics would improve human rights in China. “If the games go ahead, then Beijing gets the international seal of approval for what they are doing.”
The push for a boycott comes a day before a joint hearing in the U.S. Congress focusing on the Beijing Olympics and China’s human-rights record, and just days after the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee said boycotts are ineffective and only hurt athletes.
“People have worked to engage with the IOC in good faith to have them understand the issues directly from the mouths of those most impacted — the Uyghurs at the top of that list and the Tibetans and others,” Tethong said. “It’s clear the IOC is completely uninterested in what the real impacts on the ground for people are.”
The IOC has repeatedly said it must be “neutral” and stay out of politics. The Switzerland-based body is essentially a sports business, deriving about 75% of its income from selling broadcast rights, and 18% more from sponsors. It also has observer status at the United Nations.
“We are not a super-world government,” IOC President Thomas Bach said recently.
China’s foreign ministry has criticized “the politicization of sports” and has said any boycott is “doomed to failure.” China has denied accusations of genocide against the Uyghur people.
A recent U.S. State Department report stated explicitly that “genocide and crimes against humanity” have taken place in the past year against Muslim Uyghurs and other minorities in the western region of Xinjiang.
Tethong said she knows some athletes may be opposed. But she said others, who gained traction from Black Lives Matter movement, may become allies. She acknowledged this as a “gloves-off” moment.
“There are obviously a lot of people who are concerned about the athletes and their lifelong work,” Tethong said. “But in the end it’s the IOC that has put them in this position and should be held accountable.”
American skier Mikaela Shiffrin, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, spelled out the dilemma for athletes in a recent interview on CNN.
“You certainly don’t want to be put in the position of having to choose between human rights like morality versus being able to do your job,” she said.
Tethong suggested coalition members might lobby the IOC’s top 15 sponsors, American network NBC, which generates about 40% of all IOC revenue, sports federations, civil society groups “and anyone that will listen.”
Activists have already singled out IOC sponsor Airbnb for attention.
“First is the moral question,” Tethong said. “Is it OK to host an international goodwill sporting event such as the Olympic Games while the host nation is committing genocide just beyond the stands?”
In meetings with the IOC, activists say they have asked to see documents in which China has given “assurances” about human rights conditions. Activists say the IOC has not produced the documents.
The IOC included human rights requirements several years ago in the host city contract for the 2024 Paris Olympics, but it did not include those guidelines — the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights — for Beijing. Paris is the first Olympics to contain the standards, long pushed for by human rights groups.
Last week, human rights groups and Western nations led by the United States, Britain and Germany accused China of massive crimes against the Uyghur minority and demanded unimpeded access for U.N. experts.
At the meeting, Britain’s U.N. Ambassador, Barbara Woodward, called the situation in Xinjiang “one of the worst human rights crises of our time.”
“The evidence points to a program of repression of specific ethnic groups,” Woodward said. “Expressions of religion have been criminalized and Uyghur language and culture are discriminated against systematically and at scale.”

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This post originally appeared on CBS8 – Sports

Dogecoin plunges after meme-inspired crypto frenzy pushed its market value higher than Twitter

Author RT
This post originally appeared on RT Business News

The cryptocurrency inspired by the popular Shiba Inu meme, dogecoin, which was initially set up as a joke, took a dive after a record rally that saw its market capitalization topping $ 50 billion.

Dogecoin fell more than 20% to trade at around $ 0.27 on Wednesday, according to data from price tracking website CoinDesk. The slump pushed the coin down to the sixth position among the largest cryptocurrencies by market value, with its market cap currently standing at around $ 40 billion.

It comes shortly after the market value of the meme-based token surpassed $ 50 billion. As of Tuesday, its capitalization was more than $ 53 billion, data from CoinGecko shows, putting it on par with the world’s fourth-biggest car producer, Stellantis, and making it worth more than social media giant Twitter.
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Dogecoin’s recent losses seem minor compared to its enormous rally. Over the last seven days, the token surged nearly 250% and more than 400% in one month. Those who poured money into it a year ago enjoyed gains of nearly 16,500%, according to CoinGecko. Year to date, the coin has gained around 7,000%.

The spike in dogecoin recorded earlier this week was fueled by its fans who used the hashtags #DogeDay and #DogeDay420 to post memes, videos, and messages about the coin on social media. Supporters dubbed April 20 ‘Dogeday’, when they hoped to get the coin’s value to $ 1.
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In another positive sign for dogecoin fans, online electronics retailer Newegg announced on Tuesday that it started accepting the cryptocurrency as a method of payment. Mars, the parent company of Snickers and Milky Way, earlier signaled support for the token on social media.

The dogecoin rally has also been driven by support from Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has repeatedly posted memes about the Shiba Inu-themed token and called it his favorite crypto. Last week, he took to Twitter again, posting a picture by Spanish artist Joan Miro and captioning it “Doge Barking at the Moon.”

Some analysts warn that the dogecoin bubble could easily pop. Veteran trader Eddie Ghabour, managing partner at Key Advisors Group, earlier told Yahoo Finance that he considers the token more suitable for speculation, adding that “when this bubble bursts, it will probably cease to exist.”

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