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City Law Firm helps clients who fight poverty with the cost of living

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Calon Tsang, a pension attorney in the City of London, was helping a mother of two complete a complex disability benefit form as she played her six-month-old with a toy.

The woman, who lives in Catford, south London, on maternity leave from her job as a caregiver, came to seek help at St Luke’s Community Center in Islington, north London, where Tsang volunteers on a weekly basis. cost of living crisis clinic.

The 37-year-old’s single parent had just paid off a debt of thousands of pounds and was afraid of the coming winter. Grocery inflation reaches a record level Last month.

“It’s very worrying,” she said. “I’ve got the homeowner to change the fridge so it uses less electricity. I run almost nothing and live in a cold old house. I try to use less gas, freeze food and then microwave it so I don’t use the oven.”

She is one of a growing number of clients seen by the clinic, which began in late March. The scheme is operated in two locations by the Westway Trust, a charity, and the project is funded and operated by volunteers from Hogan Lovells, a city law firm whose partners earn up to £1.8 million a year.

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Despite the government’s support package to help families meet rising energy bills, Britain is facing a harsh winter. About 73 percent of adults reported a rise in the cost of living between August and September, according to to the National Statistics Office.

Poor households spend a higher than average proportion of their income on energy and food, so they are more vulnerable to higher prices.

The clinic, headed by John Mahoney, an attorney at Westway Trust, helps people struggling to pay utility bills complete welfare benefits forms and apply for grants.

John Mahoney
John Mahoney: ‘People who come here are struggling and drowning in debt. They don’t have savings and can’t often borrow more’ © Charlie Bibby / FT

“It’s really about maximizing income,” Mahoney said, first assessing a person’s financial situation on the phone before helping them face to face. “People who come here are struggling and drowning in debt. They have no savings and oftentimes they cannot borrow more.”

More and more people are starting to fall into utility debt, he said: “They’re not usually so worried about it that they mention it this time of year.”

Law firms in the city have always done free work. Herbert Smith Freehills, for example, works at a weekly counseling clinic in Tower Hamlets, one of the capital’s poorest neighborhoods.

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But this support has traditionally not focused on the cost of living, but rather more on helping people deal with legal claims.

Mahoney often directs clients to schemes designed to help people pay their utility bills. This includes Thames WaterHelp, a social tariff operated by the UK’s largest water company that cuts costs in half for Londoners who earn less than around £20,000 a year, excluding disability benefits.

Hardly anyone knows about the scheme, Mahoney said, because “you have to make about six clicks on the site to get there,” but the clinic has helped about a fifth of its clients progress.

In June, the clinic supported a 92-year-old who was unable to read or write and shared a council apartment with his 62-year-old son. Although the son was laid off early in the pandemic, he did not claim any benefits, which led him to spend most of his savings and increase £1,000 in credit card debt.

Kalun Tsang helps the client fill out her government forms
Calon Tsang helps a client fill out her government forms © Charlie Bibby / FT

Mahoney established that the men had been wrongly notified by the Job Center and were eligible for housing benefit and pension credit. He also specified that the son had been wrongly told that he could not succeed his father in the rent of their apartment.

Most of the 104 clients the clinic reviewed between late March and late August said their purchasing power had been hit by the cost-of-living crisis and pandemic, with two-thirds of them suffering from a disability or long-term illness.

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A quarter of clients found welfare application forms too difficult to fill out themselves, with nearly half being either digitally illiterate or illiterate.

More than 70 Hogan Lovells employees have signed up to volunteer at the clinic.

Free International Partner Yasmine Walji called it “a critical time, when people need to get professional advice more than ever.”

Tsang said it’s “nice to do something different from day to day” and that volunteering is “one way to help” as families’ budgets run low.

On the day she visited the Financial Times, Tsang’s colleague Shah Waritch had been on the phone with the aid agency for about two hours, helping a couple with two young children.

When he hung up, Warrich said he had given them an extra £31.20 a week, which they were already supposed to receive under a global credit.

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“It only took three phone calls and two hours,” Mahoney said softly. “It’s a really good result.”


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Economic

RBNZ Governor Says The Central Bank’s Contractionary Policy Now Officially By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Reserve Bank of New Zealand Governor Adrian Orr during an interview at the bank in Wellington, New Zealand, April 16, 2019. REUTERS/Charlotte Greenfield/File Photo

Written by Lucy Kramer

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand’s central bank governor said on Thursday that benchmark interest rates must rise and that the country also needs to enter a recession to control spiraling inflation, which could mean pain for some homeowners.

RBNZ Governor Adrian Orr said: “We regret that New Zealanders are exposed to major shocks and that inflation is above target. As we’ve said before, inflation is nobody’s friend and it causes economic costs.” Committee in Parliament.

New Zealand’s central bank raised its official cash rate by 75 basis points to a 14-year high of 4.25% on Wednesday as it struggles to contain inflation near a three-decade high. It also indicated that it expects a one-year recession starting in 2023 as it raises interest rates.

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“The misery of inflation is the problem here, and that’s the problem we’re working on,” Orr said.

The central bank surprised the market with its hawkish tone and predicted that rates will now peak at 5.5%, compared to a previous forecast of 4.1%.

“The biggest surprise for us since August has been the persistence of global inflation,” Orr said. “Domestically, we’re seeing price pressures everywhere.”

He added that the Central Bank Committee realized that it needed to do more and quickly to break this spiral.

“I can say now that we can all put our hands over our hearts across the committee and say we are officially down with our monetary policy at this point,” he said.

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High liquidity rates are adding to the costs of servicing debt, at a time when house prices in New Zealand have fallen about 11% since their peak in November 2021.

“Some families are already grappling with financial constraints and this is where banks and fiscal policy need to show concern,” Orr said.

He said there will be families who need to talk to their banks about options such as interest-only mortgages or deferred mortgages.

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Republican presses Twitter chief Elon Musk to better protect user data in the US via Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Elon Musk’s Twitter profile shows a smartphone placed over the Twitter logos printed in this illustration taken April 28, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration // File Photo

Written by Diane Bartz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican Senator Chuck Grassley urged Elon Musk, who recently acquired Twitter, to conduct a threat assessment at the social company to better protect user data in the United States, following up on concerns raised by whistleblowers.

Hacker Peter “Mudge” Zatko, a whistleblower who served as Twitter’s chief of security until his ouster in January, testified in September that some Twitter employees were concerned that the Chinese government would be able to collect data on the company’s users.

In a letter to Musk dated Tuesday and released on Wednesday, Grassley, the top Republican on the US Judiciary Committee, asked Twitter to make a threat assessment of “the current security posture of Twitter and its systems to better protect user data and privacy.” He also requested that the Committee’s staff be informed of the findings.

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Twitter collects massive amounts of data on US citizens. Americans have a vested interest in ensuring that their private data is secure, and that the companies they own

“Their private data was not hacked by foreign agents,” Grassley wrote.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Zatko testified that a foreign agent could use malware to steal Twitter users’ personal information, and use it to access sensitive data on a person’s phone, among other risks.

The correspondence echoed some of the concerns raised in an earlier letter Grassley and Democrat Dick Durbin sent in September to former CEO Parag Agrawal, who led the company until October, when Musk took over in a $44 billion deal.

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According to Grassley, Agrawal did not respond to the letter, citing litigation with Musk.

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Businesses across Europe are beginning to decline

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This article is an on-site version of the Disrupt Times newsletter. Register here To have our newsletter sent straight to your inbox three times a week

The most important news of the day

  • Gazprom, Russia’s state-backed gas pipeline monopoly, has accused Ukraine of taking gas destined for Moldova from lines that run through the country and warned it could Reduce supplies To Western Europe from November 28th. Gas prices rose in response This morning.

  • Permissive policies and confusing signals from Beijing have inflamed A The increasing outbreak of Covid Across China, with segments of the population once again locked down. Apple iPhone factory workers clash with police Foxconn factory in Zhengzhou In protest of bonuses.

  • The UK Supreme Court has ruled that the Scottish government does not have contract power independence referendum without Westminster’s consent, thus spoiling Edinburgh’s plan to vote next year. Scotland’s first female minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has said she will make the next UK general election a “de facto referendum” on independence.

For the latest news, visit live blog


Good evening

A new batch of surveys and forecasts has highlighted the challenges ahead for both the global economy and business amid rising inflationary pressures and a full-blown energy crisis.

Decreased business activity in the euro area Fifth month in a row In November, the closely watched PMI from S&P Global posted a score of 47.8, with 50 indicating the gap between contraction and expansion. Although the overall score was another sign that the block output It will shrink this winterThere has been some encouraging news about supply chain issues and easing cost pressures.

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However, there were few signs of optimism in a separate survey from the European Roundtable of Industry. It showed that a third of the largest industrial companies expect this Cessation or curtailment of operations Because of record energy prices and slowing demand.

Companies have also expressed concerns that incentives in the $369 billion Green Technology Initiative (also known as the Inflation Reduction Act) could Shifting investment away from Europe.

The line chart of the Eurozone PMI shows that the decline in business activity signals another recession

The PMI score for the UK was 48.3, although broadly unchanged from October. Fourth consecutive reading below 50, with new orders falling at the fastest pace in nearly two years, indicating a deepening recession. Respondents cited a cost-of-living crisis, the war in Ukraine, growing export challenges, rising borrowing costs, and fiscal tightening.

Many participants mentioned problems related to Brexit. “The veil of Covid, almost fully lifted, has revealed the challenges still faced by exporters reeling from the challenges of customs, paperwork and other Brexit restrictions that put customers off overseas,” said John Glenn, chief economist at Cibes.

manufacturing company Johnson Matthey It is the country’s latest casualty of soaring inflation and energy prices, as it announced today cuts of up to 15 percent in senior management jobs.

The UK PMI result followed yesterday’s forecast from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development which said the country would be The worst performer in the G20 Bar Russia over the next two years, with GDP declining by 0.4 percent in 2023.

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headline Read the US PMI It fell from 48.2 to a three-month low of 46.3 in November, with output falling across both manufacturing and services as demand was hit by inflation, rising borrowing costs and economic uncertainty, suggesting the economy was contracting at a level at an annual rate of 1 percent.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development expects growth of just 0.5 percent in the United States next year and a global expansion of 2.2 percent, driven by more resilient emerging economies.

Need to know: UK and European economy

UK public borrowing It rose in October with the government’s measures to help families and businesses with Energy prices entered into force. The treasury had to Bank of England bailout For the first losses incurred in the quantitative easing program since 2009, caused by higher official interest rates.

Brussels has asked EU member states to speed up their spending over the course of the year energy crisisarguing that less than 30 percent of the support measures in the bloc were “Good targetingEurope Express newsletter reports (for Premium subscribers).

Need to know: The global economy

New Zealandwhich has become a “canary in the coal mine” due to inflationary pressures, has increased the benchmark interest rate by A Record 0.75 percentage points. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand said further monetary tightening is needed to bring inflation back to its target range, even as other economies begin to contract.

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Kingdom Saudi Arabia Investing in solar and wind energy could help the kingdom meet its emissions targets — and also Pump more crude oil to sell others. Martin Wolf says global policymakers need to work out how to speed up Transition to green energy.

argentina, A major player in the global food market, accounting for 8 percent of wheat exports, 18.5 percent of corn and 40 percent of soybean oil and meals, severely affected by drought. Farmers are in despair at the lack of help from the government.

Party of the outgoing Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro she has Challenge the score from a runoff election he narrowly lost last month, and has called for ballots to be scrapped from electronic voting machines with alleged malfunctions.

Hong Kong, stricken by the coronavirus, has lost control Crown luxury shopping to New York. Manhattan’s Upper Fifth Avenue is now the most expensive street in the world for luxury shopping, according to a New surveyWhile Tsim Sha Tsui in Hong Kong came second in Kowloon, Via Monte Napoleon in Milan took third place.

The US Federal Reserve Minutes of the November policy meeting will be posted at 2pm EST / 7pm London. This is expected to provide insight into when the central bank may end the series of massive interest rate hikes. Check back in FT.com For details and feedback.

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Need to know: business

Manufacturer of agricultural machinery John Deerethe economic leader for capital spending in the United States, beat earnings forecasts and reported Optimistic outlook for the coming year Strong consumer demand and higher prices boosted revenues.

American Glazer family of owners Manchester United Football club, they said they were Looking for foreign investments and Consider sellingwhich could make them the latest prestigious club in the lucrative English Premier League to hit the market in recent months.

It’s barely noticeable, but the items promoted on digital sales platforms are at the forefront of an industry of value Tens of billions of dollars. The Big Read discusses how retailers They reshape ads.

general mood Commercial real estate The market has been dark in recent months as borrowing costs have risen, which has led to a rally The specter of the credit crunch Where the lenders hold back and only sign the safest loans.

Clothes accumulate in Warehouses in Bangladesh Where consumers in the West are tightening their belts. Apparel and textile production is by far the country’s largest industry, accounting for 85 percent of total exports.

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world of work

Retirees are among the targets of UK bike and car parts retailers Hafords Center Chronic shortage of manpower. About a million people have given up work since the start of the pandemic, with retirement the most common reason for those between the ages of 50 and 70.

Employee assistance programs are facing a complex bulge Mental illness Brought to them by people who have nowhere else to turn. What is behind the increase? Sarah O’Connor Explores.

Do HR Departments that exist to protect employees or the company? Listen to what’s new Working on a podcast.

Covid cases and vaccinations

Total global cases: 630.0 million

Total doses administered: 13.0 billion

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Get the latest worldwide image through our website Vaccine tracker

Some good news

Mystified British artist Banksy is among those responding to the war in Ukraine with an explosion of artwork celebrating the resilience and defiance of its people amid the tragedy of the conflict. Conversation reports.

Image printed on a damaged wall in Ukraine
Banksy posted a video to Instagram last week implying he is behind the spray-painted artwork that has popped up all over the Ukrainian capital this month. © Getty Images

work on it Discover the big ideas shaping today’s workplaces with a weekly newsletter from Work & Careers Editor Isabel Berwick. Participation over here

Climate chart: an explanation – Learn about the most important weather data for the week. Participation over here

Thanks for reading Disrupt Times. If this newsletter has been sent to you, please register over here to receive future issues. Please share your feedback with us at disrupttimes@ft.com. Thank you


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