The Nigerian economy may slide into recession. It’s expected with the global pandemic – Coronavirus and the drop in oil price globally.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed disclosed during a press briefing after the first virtual meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC), which was chaired by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo.
The minister said that the ravaging coronavirus pandemic is not only affecting the country economically, but also affecting the health sector, as the resources to fight this appear inadequate.
She admitted that the crash in crude oil prices would negatively affect the country’s revenue and foreign exchange earnings.
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The General Election result meant a lot of things but it also ensured the continuation of Universal Credit.
Campaigners had been hoping for an end to the controversial scheme, with Labour promising to scrap Universal Credit altogether.
However, there will still be a number of changes to the benefits system this year – some of which will be good news for claimants, reports BirminghamLive .
Here’s the timetable of what will be happening – see how it will affect you.
1. April 2020 – End of benefit freeze
The end to the benefit freeze would mean Universal Credit and other working age benefits rising by 1.7 per cent from April 2020.
The freeze was brought in by the Tories and came into effect from April 2016. It has meant that most benefits and tax credits have not gone up in line with inflation for four years.
Other benefits that have been frozen but are now set to rise are Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), income support, housing benefit, child tax credits, working tax credits and child benefit.
The increase means someone on £1,000 a month in benefits will get an extra £17, equivalent to £204 over a year. Those receiving £500 a month get an extra £8.50.
But according to think-tank the Resolution Foundation, families will still be hundreds of pounds a year worse off due to the past five years of bills rising while benefits have remained at the same level.
The Resolution Foundation’s Adam Corlett said: “While the benefit freeze is over, its impact is here to stay with a lower income couple with kids £580 a year worse off as a result.”
2. April 2020 – Pension changes
The Government also said the state pension – which has not been frozen – will increase by 3.9 per cent.
This is expected to be announced in the Budget.
It means retired Brits are in line for £5.05 a week extra on the ‘old’ basic state pension and £6.60 a week on the ‘new’ state pension.
The bad news is that the adult dependency payment is being stopped in April, which could mean thousands of pensions cut by £70 a week.
In addition, the qualifying age for men and women will rise to 66 in October 2020.
It means anyone born after October 5, 1954, will have a state pension age of at least 66.
And there will be further rises too. The Conservatives have set out plans to increase the state pension age to 67 by 2028 and 68 by 2039.
3. April 2020 – Disability benefit changes
The Scottish Government is taking on responsibility for disability benefits from April 1 and will implement changes after that.
In summer 2020, Social Security Scotland will open to claims for the brand new Disability Assistance for Children and Young People, which is Scotland’s replacement for Child Disability Living Allowance.
By the end of 2020, Social Security Scotland will also open to claims for the new Disability Assistance for Older People. This is the Scottish replacement for Attendance Allowance and is for people over the state pension age who need someone to help look after them because of a disability or long-term illness.
Also by the end of 2020, children who receive the highest care component of Disability Assistance will be entitled to Winter Heating Assistance.
Further changes will come in 2021, including PIP being replaced by Disability Assistance for Working Age People and Carer’s Allowance being replaced by Carer’s Assistance.
Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville says the system will have a redesigned application process and significantly fewer face to face assessments.
There will be rolling awards with no set end points and those with fluctuating health conditions will not face additional reviews due to changes in their needs.
She said: ““Since the Social Security Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament in June , progress has been swift.
““Our next priority is delivering payments for disabled people, as this is where we can make the most meaningful difference for the largest number of people.
“We have a duty to quickly reform the parts of the current system which cause stress, anxiety and pain. And I have been moved by the personal stories I have heard, many of which criticise the penalising assessment process.”
Around half a million cases – the equivalent of around 10 per cent of people in Scotland – will transfer from DWP to Social Security Scotland in 2020.
Ms Somerville added: “This is not simply a case of turning off one switch and turning on another. For the first time in its history, our agency will be making regular payments, direct to people’s bank accounts and our systems need to work seamlessly with those of the DWP.
“It is therefore essential we have a system that is fully operational for those making new claims and ensure we protect everyone and their payments as their cases are transferred – that is what those who rely on social security support have told us they want. We must work to a timetable that reflects the importance of moving quickly but not putting people’s payments at risk.”
During the transfer no-one will have to reapply for benefits, no claims will be reassessed and payments will be protected.
She added: “The timetable I have set out is ambitious but realistic and at all points protects people and their payments. I have seen the mess the DWP has made when transferring people to PIP and introducing Universal Credit, and we will not make the same mistakes.
“There is much hard work to be done but the prize is great – a social security system with dignity, fairness and respect at its heart and which works for the people of Scotland.”
4. June 2020 – TV licence changes
Free TV Licences, funded by the Government, for all those aged 75 and over will come to an end in June. So you can get a free licence up to May 31, 2020.
From June 1, a new scheme means you can only carry on getting a free licence if you – or your partner – are receiving Pension Credit.
If not, you’ll have to fork out the cost of a TV licence – which is £154.50 per year for a colour TV, and £52 for black and white. You can choose to pay monthly (£12.87 a month), quarterly (£39.87 every three months) or yearly.
So it’s worth checking if you can get Pension Credit to avoid the licence fee.
Pension Credit is a top-up benefit payment available if you or your partner have reached state pension age, or if one of you is getting housing benefit for people over pension age. You get more if you’re responsible for a child or young person who lives with you and is under the age of 20.
There are two elements to Pension Credit. Guarantee Credit tops up your weekly income if it’s below £167.25 (for single people) or £255.25 (for couples), while Savings Credit is an extra payment for people who saved some money towards their retirement and is up to £13.73 for single people and up to £15.35 for couples.
The Pension Service helpline is available on 0800 731 0469. Call Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm. Calls to 0800 numbers are free.
5. July 2020 – Universal Credit transition protection extended
From July 22, claimants are to get an additional two weeks of income-related Jobseekers Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, or Income Support if they receive one of these benefits when moving across to Universal Credit.
Universal Credit is intended to replace six existing benefits in total.
People are transferred on to UC if their circumstances change – such as moving home or having a child. This is called natural migration.
Everyone else on the six old benefits will have to move across in a managed migration scheme by the DWP that is set to be completed by December 2023 and is currently being tried out in Harrogate from July 2019 to July 2020.
Normally, existing benefits are terminated when a Universal Credit claim begins but the Government has amended the rules to allows a “two-week run-on” of the three benefits named above.
6. September 2020 – Universal Credit change for self employed
The DWP works out Universal Credit for self-employed people using what’s called a Minimum Income Floor (MIF).
This is roughly equivalent to the national minimum wage for each hour the claimant is expected to work.
It can mean Universal Credit is calculated on a higher level of earnings than you were actually paid.
However, this Minimum Income Floor is not applied to those who started a business within the past 12 months .
And from September 2020, this 12-month exclusion period will also not apply to “those who are naturally migrated in self-employment and all those existing UC claimants who become new gainfully self-employed.”
‘Naturally migrated’ means switched across to Universal Credit because of a change in circumstances.
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If you qualify for Bank of America Preferred Rewards, the Bank of America®️ Premium Rewards®️ Visa®️ credit card has the potential to be quite a lucrative card to use on everyday spending. For those who prefer other banks, there are better earning travel cards available. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐½
*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
I’ll be honest. I haven’t always been a fan of Bank of America credit cards. Though affordable with low or nonexistent annual fees, most lacked the perks that I’ve always associated with my favorite cards. However, the more familiar I get with the Preferred Banking Rewards program (and the more useful fixed-value points currencies become), the more I see the benefits of having a Bank of America card.
This card isn’t like other products that have $450 annual fees and a ton of perks; this card has a modest $95 annual fee and a more modest selection of benefits. Still, it offers great flexibility in redeeming points and yields extraordinary earn rates if you can maximize BofA’s Preferred Banking Rewards program.
In This Post
Who is this card for?
The Premium Rewards credit card has wide appeal to both points fans and credit card novices. It might not have the most lucrative points or numerous transfer partners, but what it does offer is flexibility.
I think of it as a stress-free travel card, since points are worth 1 cent apiece no matter what you redeem them for — you don’t have to worry about getting the maximum value out of every point, which can sometimes be time-consuming and frustrating.
If you like the idea of redeeming your points as a statement credit against big purchases that aren’t covered by points — such as new luggage or a TV — then this would be the card to get. You can redeem points for any purchase, whether it’s a flight, a new car or an over-the-top dinner. The points function essentially like cash.
The Premium Rewards card is also a strong option for those who tend to spend in broad bonus categories like travel and dining (2x and up with this card), but who also want solid rewards (1.5x and up) for non-category bonus spend.
The earning rate is even better if you’re already a Bank of America customer and can maximize the Preferred Rewards Program (more on that later).
It’s also a great choice for semi-frequent travelers since it comes with valuable perks like an up to $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit, an up to $100 airline credit, trip delay/cancellation insurance, baggage loss/delay insurance and no foreign transaction fees, so you won’t be hit with any surprise charges when using your card abroad.
With the Premium Rewards card, you’ll receive 50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. These points have a fixed value of 1 cent each, meaning that 50,000 points are worth $500. This far from the most lucrative bonus out there, but $500 can go a long way towards airfare, hotel costs or anything in between.
When you consider that BofA is essentially paying you $5 every year (after you redeem the up to $100 airline credit) to have this card, you’re basically getting $500 for free just for signing up and meeting the minimum spend. Use the sign-up bonus to treat yourself to something extravagant, like a helicopter or private jet ride on Blade.
While Bank of America doesn’t have any published restrictions that apply specifically to earning welcome bonuses, remember that it does have a 2/3/4 rule when it comes to card applications. You can only get approved for two Bank of America cards in a two-month period, three cards in a 12-month period and four cards in a 24-month period.
There have also been recent reports of a threshold similar to Chase’s 5/24 rule that limits how many cards across issuers you can get within a year in order to be approved for a new BoA card, though the exact threshold is uncertain and Bank of America has not confirmed the existence of a set policy.
Perks and benefits
While the Premium Rewards card doesn’t hold a candle to top-tier cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express, it does come with a nice set of perks for the low annual fee — a lot more than basically any other mid-tier card out there. Here are my favorite perks and their value:
$100 airline incidental credit. This credit works like the Amex airline fee credit in that you can only use it for purchases such as seat upgrades, baggage fees, in-flight services and lounge fees (though not airfare). You receive the credit every year and if you’re able to use the full amount, you’re essentially getting paid $5 a year to be a cardholder. Unfortunately, it’s not as flexible as the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s travel credit or the Citi Prestige’s air travel credit, but it’s still a great benefit for someone who travels a few times a year. It only works on certain domestic airlines but it’s processed automatically, so you don’t have to call in and apply it to a certain purchase.
Global Entry. I love having Global Entry — it’s saved me from standing in countless hours of security and customs lines. Premium Rewards cardmembers get an up to $100 credit (every four years) that can be applied toward purchasing Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. It’s surprising that this card offers a Global Entry credit, as that’s usually only offered by top-tier rewards cards with higher annual fees (although the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is another mid-tier card that offers this benefit). And if you’re already part of the program, you can still use the credit for a friend or family member’s application.
Trip insurance. It’s always important to have trip insurance since you never know when your travel plans will go awry. This card provides reimbursement of up to $5,000 per person, per trip, for any unused, prepaid, non-refundable travel expenses including passenger fares, tours and hotels if you have to cancel due to a covered reason. And if your flight is delayed for more than 12 hours, you’re eligible for reimbursement of $500 in expenses per ticket. With many issuers ditching trip insurance, this benefit continues to be a compelling reason to use this card to book travel.
Baggage delay/loss insurance: Similar to trip insurance, you’ll be eligible for protection if your baggage is lost, stolen or damaged. This provides up to $100 per day (up to five days) when your bag is delayed for more than six hours. If your luggage is stolen or lost by a travel provider, you’ll be eligible for reimbursement for the contents of the bag.
Purchase protection. I’ve used purchased protection many times and it’s saved me thousands of dollars over the last year — Amex paid me $1,400 for a broken watch and my Sapphire Reserve reimbursed me $2,600 for a painting that was damaged in transit. You’ll get similar protection with the Premium Rewards card, which will repair, replace or reimburse you up to $10,000 for lost or damaged items purchased on the card. If you want to return an item within 90 days of purchase but the retailer won’t accept the return, you can submit your receipt and be reimbursed up to $250 (up to $1,000 annually).
Rental car insurance. Last, this card will give you secondary coverage when renting a car — meaning it will kick in only after you’ve filed a claim with your personal insurance. While not as good as many of Chase’s cards that offer primary coverage, it’s pretty good for a no-annual fee card (after maximizing the airline credit).
With this card, you’re earning 2x points on travel and dining and 1.5x point on everything else. Travel and dining are defined broadly, meaning there are a lot of expenses that can qualify for double points. The real value for me personally is the 1.5x on everyday spending. As a member of the Preferred Rewards program, you can earn up an impressive 2.625x on non-bonus spending. That’s higher than any flat-rate card out there.
The Premium Rewards card doesn’t earn traditional points or miles that can be transferred and redeemed with travel partners but rather acts more like a cash-back card with huge earning potential. I honestly never thought I’d be thinking about cash back, but as airlines have devalued frequent flyer programs, the idea seems more appealing.
Although we value most airline miles at more than 1 cent each, that’s mainly based on being able to find premium cabin saver seats. With it becoming harder and harder to get good value out of points and miles, that’s where this card can come in handy.
As I mentioned earlier, points are flexible with the Premium Rewards card; you can use them on anything — airlines, the gym, etc. — essentially anywhere that accepts Visa. Your points can go toward paying for those purchases (as a statement credit) and the credit posts automatically.
Another thing I like about this card is that it’s zero stress and consumes very little time. You don’t need to jump through hoops to find award availability and you don’t have to go to a specific portal if you want to use your points to pay for your gym. Since points are worth the same no matter what you redeem for, you’re not penalized for redeeming for cash back. You just redeem for whatever you want.
There a few ways to redeem points:
Cash back — You can receive cash back as a statement credit or deposit it into an eligible BofA checking or savings, Merrill or 529 college savings account
Travel purchases — You can book flights directly through the BofA travel portal. This is a good way to redeem points because you’ll still be eligible to earn award miles and elite credits by flying on a paid ticket (although personally I’d recommend buying directly from the carrier because sometimes when buying through a travel portal you’ll get a lower fare class).
Gift cards — A final option allows for converting points into gift cards at popular merchants such as Amazon, Whole Foods and Starbucks. I wouldn’t plan on going this route since it’d be smarter to just purchase the items and redeem your points as a statement credit in case you have to return the item.
I especially love that you can convert points directly into cash that can go straight into a 529 college savings account. Last year, I converted the points from my sign-up bonus and deposited them directly into 529 accounts for my nieces and nephews. From there, I used my points as statement credits against BLADE trips to my office, which saved me hours of time.
And if you’re solely focused on travel rewards, this card can cover travel expenses that you can’t redeem miles for, like offsetting surcharges on an award ticket or amazing experiences on the ground.
Originally when I heard that points were worth only 1 cent each, I was a bit disappointed. But it’s honestly nice that I don’t have to jump through hoops to find award availability and I don’t have to feel bad about redeeming these points for maximum value. I can use them whenever and for whatever I want.
Using the Preferred Rewards program to your advantage
To get the best value out of your Bank of America cards, you need to understand Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program. Those who hold considerable assets in eligible BofA or Merrill accounts — including retirement or investment accounts — are eligible for increased rewards when spending on the Premium Rewards card. To enroll in BofA Preferred Rewards you’ll need:
An eligible Bank of America personal checking account anda3-month average combined balance of $20,000 or more in a Bank of America account and/or Merrill investment accounts.
There are three tiers in Preferred Rewards, and your tier is based on how much money you have in your accounts. This will determine your earning with the Premium Rewards card.
Tier 1 – Gold ($20,000 – $50,000)
Tier 2 – Platinum ($50,000 – $100,000)
Tier 3 – Platinum Honors ($100,000+)
At the base level of 2x points on travel and dining and 1.5x points on everything else, the card is pretty standard. It’s good, but the Citi® Double Cash Card and Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Cardare cash-back cards with higher earning rates on everyday spend and no annual fees (though those cards don’t come with any perks).
But the numbers get pretty spectacular when you’re able to get 2.625x points on everyday spend and 3.5x points if you meet the highest banking threshold. That said, I’ll still probably put most of my travel and dining spend on my Sapphire Reserve because I value Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents each — meaning I get 6x points (toward travel per dollar spent). But 3.5x points back on travel and dining and 2.625x points on everything else for those who don’t value travel as much as I do — and want flexibility when redeeming points — is quite strong.
The way I see it is that if you can maximize Preferred Rewards, you’re essentially getting a no-annual-fee card (after using the airline credit) that gives you 3.5x on travel and dining and 2.625x on everything else. If you’re looking for a straight cash-back card, no other card comes close to that.
The moment I heard of this card, I immediately moved $100,000 into a Merrill investment account so I could start qualifying for Platinum Honors. BofA also allows the option to roll over an existing 401(k) account into a Merrill retirement account, so that this could be an easy way to qualify for Preferred Rewards.
In general, this card is about diversifying your stock of points and using them for the purchases that normal airline miles or credit card points can’t cover. It’s great if you want to use your points to splurge on a crazy watch or piece of jewelry. Or you can be generous and use the points to better your family.
It’s also an interesting option for small business owners — I know a lot of doctors and executives, and at a certain point there is mileage overload where they have too many Amex points and physically can’t redeem all of them for travel (because that is the best way to redeem MR points). So if you own your own business, this card can offer 2.625x points on all of your spend and 3.5x points on all travel and dining, which you can easily redeem for cold hard cash.
For those who have been eyeing a straight-up cash-back card, this could be your best option. Simply put, it’ll be improving your bottom line — either for you personally or for your business. You don’t have to waste time figuring out how to get the most value out of your points, as the stress-free redemptions make this an easy card to manage.
BofA is obviously telling customers that they will be rewarded with its Preferred Rewards program if they move their assets to BofA. On top of the earning and redeeming possibilities, it comes with a solid sign-up bonus and some pretty nice perks, which are worth far more than the card’s annual fee. For these reasons, I continue to be excited to have status with Preferred Rewards banking and the Bank of America®️ Premium Rewards®️ Visa®️ credit card in my wallet.
When the striker called out racism in the England camp, it ended her international career. She explains why the fight was worth it
Eniola Aluko is one of only 11 female footballers to have played more than 100 times for England. She has scored some of the Lionesses most memorable goals, was the first female pundit on Match Of The Day, and is a qualified lawyer, having graduated from Brunel University London with a first in 2008. But it is as a whistleblower that she is destined to be best remembered. And, like many whistleblowers, she has spent the subsequent years being rubbished by those she exposed.
Now she has written a memoir. They Dont Teach This is a fascinating examination of her multiple identities British and Nigerian, a girl in a boys world, footballer and academic, a kid from an estate with upper-middle-class parents, a God-fearing rebel. But the book is at its best when she reveals exactly what happened after she accused the England management team of racism, and the Football Association of turning a blind eye to it. Aluko does not hold back and few people from the football establishment emerge with their reputation intact.
Aluko now plays for Juventus in Italy, but we meet at her old stomping ground, Brunel. She has been delayed by traffic, which gives me time to explore the sports centre. On the wall are three huge, framed posters of Brunel alumni sporting legends. Guess who they are, I say to Aluko when she arrives. Mo Farah, definitely, she says instantly. And? Erm oh, Usain Bolt! Obviously! He trained here. And the third? She is stumped. Then she looks. Oh. My. God! It is a poster of her playing for England. Wow! Thats amazing. She looks genuinely thrilled.
Aluko has a small, mobile face with striking features big, brown eyes and a huge, ear-to-ear smile. When she is unhappy, she makes no attempt to hide it; her glare is as forbidding as the smile is winning. And there havent been many times over the past five years that Aluko has had reason to smile.