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Sovereign Harbour Eastbourne Seniors' Forum

Pensioners in this area pay both Annual Estate Rentcharges and for Environment Agency unique-in-the-UK flood defence

Pensioners concernsretirement

PensionsThis Sovereign Harbour Seniors Forum and Pensioners Concerns entity is a no-cost to those eligible, democratic, independent, non-profit making, non-sectarian and voluntary group presently headed by disabled and retired investigative formerly expatriate author, activist and journalist Keith A. Forbes. 

It is not affiliated to or connected with any political party or political-related organisation. 

Membership is open to all Seniors who are resident or active in Eastbourne’s Sovereign Harbour area, regardless of race religion sex or politics. 

We have requested digital linkage from other East Sussex Seniors' groups such as East Sussex Seniors' Association, Eastbourne Seniors Forum, Hastings & St. Leonard's Senior Forums, Rother Seniors Forum, Seaford Senior's Form and more.

If we get such linkage we will gladly reciprocate with a link to their websites. In this constantly-changing economic, environmental and socio-economic climate we keep this website up-to-date with concerns and issues affecting seniors shown below, with more to be added as appropriate.

We will welcome content suggestions from individuals and digitally-linked groups. Presently, pensioners encounter the following locally, regionally and nation-wide:

Action Fraud reveals how scams affect pensioners

scamsA massive business that has particularly affected pensioners and their savings. 

When a stranger calls, do not say who you are. Instead, demand the name of the person the caller is trying to reach, name of the caller and with which company or entity he or she claims to represent. If both are not revealed promptly, confuse the caller by stating there are many people living at the address and then hang up fast. Under no circumstances should you ever divulge your date of birth, bank account details and home address.

Delete as fraud attempts any messages received by phone or mobile or email about fake Covid financial support. 

Or warnings of fines from HMRC and more, paying for a vaccination, tracking a missing parcel. test and trace. friends in distress, etc. Action Fraud, the US's anti-fraud agency, noted in July 2021 and pensioner savers are losing twice as much manner to scams when compared to 2021. Foreign cyber gangs operating out of Russian-speaking countries have gained widespread access to UK mobile and telephone numbers, with pension frauds losing an average of £50,949. 

All scams should be reported promptly by email and/or phone  to Action Fraud at website or call 0300 123 2040 (with 24/12 live cyber-reporting for businesses) with other appropriate bank-related action taken in the financial self-interests of individual consumers who have been targeted, to help safeguard accounts.

Daily Telegraph has reported that customers of certain banks, namely Metro Bank, Tesco Bank and Virgin Money - which also owns Clydesdale & Yorkshire Bank -  were more vulnerable to Britain's scam epidemic because they have not yet introduced (but are planning to do so in due course) the "vital" fraud controls adopted by most major banks. The Telegraph stated that "Confirmation of payee" allows those sending money to confirm the recipient's name matches the account number and sort code. As well as helping prevent mistakes in where the money is being sent it is seen as a central tool  in combating fraud. The Telegraph has since reported Barclays Bank frauds have happened.

Age-Friendly Communities should be excluding Eastbourne for now. Why?

The UK Network of Age-Friendly Communities is a growing movement of currently over 40 places across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The UK network is affiliated with the World Health Organization's Global Network for Age-friendly cities and communities. So why should Eastbourne be excluded at this time? Because Eastbourne Police and Eastbourne Borough Council and its parent East Sussex County Council will not act to protect disabled and pensioners from cyclists.

Cyclist deliberately ignoring no-cycling signDespite a definitive statement on its website that protecting the vulnerable - including all who are disabled and pensioners - is a priority, East Sussex police will not enforce council byelaws to stop cyclists from cycling on the Eastbourne Borough Council byelaw-mandated no-cycling part of the Eastbourne Promenade. Pensioners and disabled or frail and their carers use that particular part of the promenade not because it is central to the town - which it is - but especially because it is flat and wide and because of the latter they can walk in safety with their carers at their side to give them physical and other support. Eastbourne is the only seafront town in the UK with such a downtown part-cycle-free area. That byelaw dates from 2006 and was established primarily because Eastbourne as a seaside town has the highest number of elderly over 65 to 95, frail and disabled in the entire country. 12% of the population is aged over 75 years, compared to 8% regionally and nationally. The county ranks highest of all the counties in England for the percentage of 85 and 90 year olds. However, cycling is permitted on further-away parts of the Eastbourne promenade. 

At a meeting of the Eastbourne Borough Council's Disability Disability Involvement Group (EDIG) held on 4 December 2019 it was reported that from a police perspective the police are not looking to pursue penalties to cyclists. “Current practice is to ask cyclists to dismount. It is not a priority for police.”  It is astonishing that since 2006 when the Eastbourne Borough Council byelaw was made enforceable there have been NO prosecutions despite many flagrant violations as shown in the photo above that clearly states "no cycling.". The council, because it has not been supported to do so by the police, has thus allowed violators galore, especially in the summer, to escape the £100 fine. Councils must see that the law is enforced and members of the public expect the police to act. Until then, disabled and elderly visitors be warned that this situation confirms that Eastbourne is NOT an Age-Friendly place. More will be following shortly about this.

Age-Friendly places will:

BBC TV Licence requires pensioners and seniors to pay £157.50 per home for TV & computers with no tax write-offs while MPs' and Councillors can claim the TV Licence as expenses for tax purposes

seniors watching TVSince 1 August 2020, or the first time in over 20 years, pensioners over 75 years old have been required to pay the BBC more than £157.50 in 2021 to watch TV and use their computers, mobile phones (cell phones in USA) and smartphones. Many in this vulnerable age group live in remote areas of the UK and are hugely reliant on the BBC, especially since the Covid lockdown. Once, the BBC promised free licensing to the over 75s without any means testing. It has broken that promise. Senior citizens do not deserve to be impoverished or frightened by demands from BBC tax collectors. 

All viewers aged 75 and over who had qualified for a free licence now have to pay, unless they have  total assets less than £16,500 qualify for and receive the government's Pension Credit. Around 900,000 over-75 people were entitled to free TV. But now, if they refuse to pay for BBC services and instead want to use commercial services only, they have no right to choose, instead are liable to get a criminal record. Exceptions to payment of this TV Licence which also includes using a computer or smartphone are - guess who - Members of Parliament and local authority county or district councillors who, if they are liable at all, can write the cost off as part of their business expenses but others who are not part of that group cannot. 

Members of Parliament collectively voted to pass the responsibility of collecting the TV licence from Government to the BBC. This makes the BBC not only the sole beneficiary of the TV License - no other TV entity, of which there are many here in the UK - but also the sole regulatory authority, with a total monopoly of the TV Licence. Today, the BBC is not just a monopoly, it is also the sole recipient of the TV licence fee as well as being the sole regulator of the latter. It's not just large but huge army of presenters is massively unjust affront. Its on-air presenters use their BBC presence - for which they are exceptionally well paid as shown below - to push their political and social views!  Who wants to hear the rubbish spouted by opinionated Chris Packham in Countryfile, or James Wong, or Gary Lineker or Naga Munchetty, or the deeply biased opinions and conjecturing, never news but always deeply prejudiced views of the BBC's North America editor, Jon Sopel..

See below the astonishing salaries the licence-fee funded BBC pays its staff in 2021! Clearly, with these huge payments the BBC can afford to exist without taxpayers' support. Not all all their earnings are published - for example, Zoe Ball's earnings for Strictly: It Takes Two are not included, as that is produced by BBC Studios, which is classed as a commercial entity. The salaries of other high profile programmes produced by BBC Studios - such as Top Gear and Doctor Who - are also missing for the same reason. Biggest earners at the BBC in 2020-2021 pa salaries: (Most American and Canadian - and other Commonwealth countries and British Overseas Territories earn 50-75% less in their similar roles):

Bereavements & death certificates required

death certificateCouncils require by law that when a death occurs in any household, the council be informed within 5 days. A copy of the death certificate will be required by the council.

Death certificates prices have trebled in England and Wales. 

Since 16 February 2019 pensioners and families registering a death now have had to pay £11 for a death certificate. It was the first increase since 2010. Birth and marriage certificates have gone up too but pricier death certificates have the most serious impact. 

The new cost is per certificate. Some bereaved families or pensioners may need up to 20. Individual death certificates are needed by banks, building societies, crematoria, funeral homes, local councils, electricity, investment and telecommunications companies and more when the person who has died either held an account there or is to be buried or cremated.

 If the person who died is a co-council tax payer with the surviving spouse or partner, as many homes and apartments are, the survivor, as a widow or widower living there alone, may qualify for a 25% council tax rebate. In addition to the obligation to the council concerned the survivor is responsible for letting banks, mortgage companies and utilities know and handling or otherwise providing for the estates of the departed.

Britons moving to the EU lose NHS coverage post-Brexit

Of particular interest to pensioners thinking of moving to an EU country where cost-of-living is cheaper.  After 31 December 2020 Britons living anywhere abroad no longer qualify, not even if they still pay council or other taxes in the UK and get a UK government or private pension. They are no longer eligible for certain NHS entitlements including doctor's, hospitals and free prescriptions if they visit the UK. Those doing so will be charged 150 percent of the cost of NHS treatment. The NHS operates using residence-based criteria. 

When last estimated, of the British pensioners living abroad, about 130,000 live in Ireland; 103,000 in Spain; 42,000 in Germany; 133,000 in Italy; 17,000 in Cyprus; 10,000 in Malta. However, they are entitled to healthcare services where they reside, with different costs applying in each country. They, as residents abroad, can no longer claim from the NHS for costs incurred in that country. The changes in healthcare rules by the NHS now apply to each overseas country irrespective of location.

Care for the Carers East Sussex

Carer's Card8 St. Leonard's Road, Highlight House, Eastbourne BN21 3UH. Phone 01323 738 390. 

A great organization

Issues the Carers Card shown. 

It is incredibly helpful by local carers. 

It also has a comprehensive directory of local businesses and entities. 

The latter group that support local carers with useful and needed offers or discounts. 

It helps the local community to recognize and value the role of carers and enables them to access the services and support they need. 

On the back of the card the registered number of the carer is shown, to show those offering such carers support, to help avoid cheating by non-carers.

Charities, 270 of them, pay bosses more than the Prime Minister

On 31 May 2021 The Telegraph newspaper revealed the scandal of this, with the highest earner paid £4.6 million a year. The Wellcome Trust charity - owner of Premier Marinas and Sovereign Harbour - pays this to chief investment officer Nick Moates, a £1.3 million rise on the year before. A director of the Wellcome Trust, Sir Jeremy Farrar, earns £483,788.  (As part of a total The Wellcome Trust wage bill of £105 million, more than 90 of its staff earn over £100,000).

The 269-strong balance of the Charity Rich List are in the top one percent of UK taxpayers. The International Institute for Strategic Studies is another with its best-paid executive paid over £600,000. A Nuffield Health executive was paid £935,000, The Consumers Association, the charity behind Which? paid a CEO £825,000. Household names such as Barnardo's, Cancer Research, Comic Relief, the Royal Opera House, the Thrombosis Research Institute, the National Trust, RNLI, Refuge, and many more, all pay superior salaries.

Compared to this, the Prime Minister earns a mere £157,372.

Computers or tablets and smart phones are now must-haves for seniors

SeniorsplanningcomputersA lack of digital skills and no computer access has a huge negative impact on the lives of pensioners in particular. 

It leads to poorer health outcomes, increased loneliness, social isolation and much more. Digital technology, in the form of desk-top and laptop computers, smartphones, tablets and more, is here to stay, whether we like it or not. Pensioners cannot claim they should be treated differently. Our only realistic option is to accept it and adapt to it or face problems galore. They include not getting the information we need, not being able to receive or send email, not being able to order goods and services online, not being able to do online banking and bill-paying. Also, NHS medical practices now expect patients to order and re-order their prescriptions online. Instead of bleating that legislation should protect us from being so disadvantaged compared to those who hare computer-literate we should be striving to become at least basically proficient in sending and receiving emails, running households digitally and being able to order goods and services online. 

Local council libraries can help pensioners. They offer the use, at no cost, of computers and WiFi. They have staff or volunteers to help pensioners take their first computer steps, have learning services and also offer 1,000s of digitally accessible audio facilities, books, magazines, newspapers and more. Instead of desktop or laptop computers people can buy inexpensive tablets that will do the job  of helping people to keep in touch. Their only recurring monthly expense will be the cost of WiFi, a must if they wish to keep in touch from the comfort of their own home instead of relying on others to get or send their emails or order their prescriptions and suchlike. Many pensioners fail to recognise that instead of retiring from all activities once they reach age 65 they can become very active in designing and/or publishing and/or editing websites - costing less than £15 a year with proper research, on a huge variety of subjects, simply for pleasure or for profit. It's odd that while many pensioners use mobile telephones with no trouble, so few actually run websites.

Continuing Healthcare (CHC): what it is and who qualifies

senior's continuing healthcareeWhat is it? Of particular concern to many pensioners. A lottery post-code mess. Healthcare to help the vulnerable who qualify medically.

 Some adults and pensioners with long-term complex healthcare needs get free care and nursing arranged and paid for by the NHS. It is not means-tested and the decision is supposed to be based solely on the medical condition of the person concerned. It includes degenerative diseases such as dementia and Parkinson's and people with complex disabilities,

To get CHC. Persons concerned must be assessed by a team of healthcare professionals who look after what help a person needs and the complexity of those needs. Some can be fast-tracked for CHC funding if they are nearing the end of their lives.

 In such cases the assessment can be carried out within 48 hours. But the process for a family of applying can be complex and time-consuming and health officials can disagree over who should be eligible for the funding. NHS England has told Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) - who are the CHC decision-makers -  to make £855 million in savings. 

The Consumer group Which revealed recently that there is a postcode lottery, where some CCGs are far more likely to award CHC funding than others. Cross-party Members of Parliament have been alerted to the fact that people have died while awaiting a decision on CHC funding. 

For more details, see 

Council Tax increases/injustices/wrongs

For more details see Council Tax Wrongs. In Eastbourne, seniors living in flats or homes with council tax bands A to H pay DOUBLE the Council Taxes of a Londoner living in Bands A to H in Westminster City Council. In Canada and USA, Bermuda, Caribbean, etc. seniors either pay no property tax (equivalent to council tax) at all or only 50%. 

It's truly disconcerting that no pensioners' or seniors' groups in the entire UK have stated this on their websites.  

Devolution has been a costly massive mistake

Scotsman newspaper cartoonIt is a mess that has failed the public and endangered the Union. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair's devolution policy was intended by London-based politicians concerned to quell Scottish and Welsh nationalism and create permanent Labour power bases in those capitals in the process. Taxpayers paid for, at huge expense, enormous separate new legislative buildings.  Acknowledgement. Left: Scotsman newspaper cartoon. But what has happened? Support for separatism has grown stronger, not been weakened.

 Devolution has evolved into Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland now having their own separate parliaments, built at huge taxpayer expense, with their parliamentarians having created their own vast nests of not only bureaucracy but acute nationalism, while England itself has no separate parliament at all, with all its laws enacted not only by English but also by Members of Parliament from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In particular, devolution has allowed the Scottish nationalists to campaign relentlessly for separation from the UK. It has given nationalist Scottish MPs and MSPs great powers without any full responsibility or real accountability. Scotland's parliament has powers the Welsh Assembly lacks. 

With the May 2021 Scottish Election over with yet another resounding Scottish National Party (SNP) victory but still without a majority government, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been offending most people not British-Scottish (factually correct as Scotland is part of the UK, not a separate sovereign country and all Scots are British subjects and carry British passports) with her almost-constant criticisms of England and Prime Minister Boris Johnson.  She has also said "there is no democratic justification whatsoever for Boris Johnson or anyone else seeking to block the right of the people of Scotland to choose our future...."

We should stop once and for all now the constant earlier appeasements of the nationalists by Conservative and Labour governments that led to those devolved governments getting so many more powers that it has made hem believe they can go their own independent way by breaking up Britain. Scots need to be reminded that it was the UK Government at Westminster, not the Scottish Government at Holyrood that masterminded every aspect of the Covid 19 pandemic vaccine programme development and paid for its development and successful roll-out, yet it was the devolved governments that got all the credit.

Scots need to know, because their own SNP government has deliberately failed to make this clear, that without the benefit of the solely Westminster-financed Barnett formula that presently pays the Scottish Government £9600 per annum for every resident of Scotland, they will either be £9600 poorer or will lose the free university, free social care and many other advantages they presently have that English residents do not because they receive significantly less financial benefit from the Barnett arrangement. 

Can the SNP government afford this from its own coffers? No. Will it be made up by joining the European Union? No, in fact Scotland will have to pay into the EU more than it receives from the EU.  Nationalist Scots need to be told, in an English equivalent of Nicola Sturgeon's own earlier vitriolic jibe directed at Boris Johnson, that "there is no democratic justification whatsoever for Nicola Sturgeon or anyone else to seek to block the right of the people of Britain to be free of having to pay a single penny more of the Barnett formula to a Scotland that, according to the SNP, hates and resents us...."

Nationalist Scots need to be told that some folks in England are so heartily sick of Nicola Sturgeon's SNP anti-English propaganda and strident attacks that they no longer wish to take their holidays in Scotland, or drink whisky, or buy any other Scots products. And, in fact, instead of bemoaning the loss of Scotland as a member of the Union, they will be glad of it because that enormous present Barnett payment to Scotland could be better spent on the parts of the remaining UK that deserve it far more. It could more than pay for a new UK National Care Service to supplement the NHS and lead to free social care for all pensioners, not just those whose total assets are worth less than £16,400. 

Presently, the people, including many pensioners,l who pay their way are completely denied such free social care. Our Prime Minister and British Government should think long and hard about:

The Prime Minister and British Government should now be insisting on a cast-iron legally-binding in every way agreement between the SNP and the Prime Minister that Scotland will not go independent for at least another 25 years. If this is not accepted then shipyards and other defence suppliers in Scotland should no longer be considered. 

Disability laws in UK need upgrading to match those  Europe, Canada, USA, etc.

Disability seatingSee Sovereign Harbour Disability Association. 

Here in Eastbourne, on the police website, the police say that in particular they protect the vulnerable - the elderly and/or disabled.

 In fact, they they do not. 

Public records show they have never prosecuted anyone for riding cycles in the central beach-side area of the town on the pathway reserved for walkers. 

And because of this the walkway - not a cycle path and clearly marked as such - is favored by the elderly and disabled with mobility problems and their carers, some of whom have to walk on one side of their patients. 

Too often they are frightened by cyclists who ignore the council-published bylaw forbidding cyclists. 

Eastbourne as a town has the UK's highest number of elderly and disabled per capita. and

 They deserve better. 

The trouble is, no other entity, only this one, has brought this to local, national and international attention.

Duties of an Executor: what to do when someone dies

See Estates of pensioners are expected by law to be completed within 6 months. 

Electric car drivers: only £100 better off after 3 years than buying diesel or petrol

Of particular interest to pensioners on a limited income. This was reported by the Daily Telegraph Telegraph newspaper on 31 May 2021. Most pensioners now have more reservations than ever before when considering the presently over-the-top prices of buying most electric vehicles compared to those that are diesel or petrol-powered, their limited ranges, even for hybrids, lack of charging points across the country and range of batteries. The applicable regulatory agency OFGEM has stated that many households are unlikely to buy an electric vehicle in the next five years.

Energy costs rise by £150-£400 a year from April 2022

Electricity costWith Pensioners particularly affected.

Some already have with extra costs from bankruptcy of smaller firms and resultant switchovers.

Not just gas but electricity too has or soon will be increasing substantially. Since the beginning of September 2021 nine fairly new, lesser-priced energy suppliers collapsed, following a six-fold rise in imported and countrywide wholesale gas and and four-fold rise in wholesale power (electricity included) prices. These exposed millions of households, pensioners in particular on limited  budgets, to the risk of sudden price increases caused when households had to switch to other suppliers with much higher costs. One direct result has been that the price cap introduced over the past few years by government's energy regular Ofgem to help control price increases, is likely to be increased substantially. The price cap had earlier prevented energy companies from immediately passing on higher costs to customers but it also forced smaller, newer companies to the brink of bankruptcy. 

The price cap level introduced by Ofgem has, in the past, only been reviewed twice a year. But it may be forced to up this more frequently now. The cost of electricity until recently averaged 18p per kilowatt hour plus a standing charge (surcharge). This was already stupendous compared to the USA's, Canada's and the EU's overall national average of US$0.11 cents per kilowatt hour. The effect on pensioners in particular is frightening, with substantially higher energy bills now forecast for 2022 on top of significant rises in other living costs.

FCA protects home owners and motorists including pensioners from loyalty charges

The Daily Telegraph has reported that The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has implemented a package of remedies to improve competition and protect home and motor insurance customers from loyalty penalties. This includes new rules so that renewal quotes for home and motor insurance consumers are not more expensive than they would be for new customers. These measures address the issues identified in the FCA’s September 2020 market study, which found that millions of home and motor insurance customers lose out if they renew repeatedly with their current providers. 

In 2018, 6 million loyal policy holders would have saved £1.2 billion had they paid the average price for their actual risk. These measures address the issues identified in the FCA’s September 2020 market study, which found that millions of home and motor insurance customers lose out if they renew repeatedly with their current providers. In 2018, 6 million loyal policy holders would have saved £1.2 billion had they paid the average price for their actual risk. These measures address the issues identified in the FCA’s September 2020 market study, which found that millions of home and motor insurance customers lose out if they renew repeatedly with their current providers. In 2018, 6 million loyal policy holders would have saved £1.2 billion had they paid the average price for their actual risk. It also distorts the way the market works for everyone.  

Many firms offer below-cost prices to attract new customers. They also use sophisticated processes to target the best deals at customers who they think will not switch in the future and will therefore pay more.  The FCA’s new rules will stop firms price walking. Insurers will be required to offer renewing customers a price that is no higher than they would pay as a new customer. It is likely that firms will no longer offer unsustainably low-priced deals to some customers. However, the FCA estimates that these measures will save consumers £4.2 billion over 10 years, by removing the loyalty penalty and making the market work better. In addition to the new rules on pricing for home and motor insurance, the FCA is also bringing in new rules to give most consumers easier methods of cancelling automatic renewal of their policy; require insurance companies to do more to consider how they offer fair value to their customers and more. 

The measures put an end to the unreasonably high prices paid by many loyal customers. They can still shop around but now they will not be charged more than new customers. This is similar to the recent measures awarded in 2020 to Internet/WIFI customers.

Foreign Aid cuts are justified

foreign aid spending 2021

It was reported recently that Britain's aid to China is being slashed by 95% to £900,000. But why is this paid at all, given China's present economic health and wealth? It was also reassuring to read that because of the massive negative effect on our UK economy of the Covid 18 pandemic, our Foreign Aid budget needs to be cut proportionately by £8.1 billion for the 2021-2022 year.  The government made a convincing case why and on 13 July 2021 the government won by 33 votes. 

Yet some Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and SNP politicians and peers, such as two former Conservative and Labour Prime Ministers, Labour's Sarah Champion, MP, chair of the international development committee, Andrew Mitchell, former Conservative international development secretary, Baroness Sugg, a former Conservative minister, have objected to these cuts, lamely saying they are the most draconian cuts ever made by Britain and affect many countries where Britain has a deep and abiding relationship (yeah, the countries expecting their handouts while their leaders live in their palaces and grow rich from these handouts that they intercept) and some Conservative, Labour and other MPs and lords moaning that the plans remove a lifeline from hundreds of thousands of people.

Charities too  have complained loudly, including those whose CEOs' are paid far more than the Prime Minister. But will they donate to make up the shortfall? No. They want taxpayers to pay but not themselves.  The chiefs of the charities, and rebel  MPs too of all stripes, should be required to contribute a portion of their monumental salaries instead of hypocritically requiring only taxpayers but not themselves personally, to foot the bill. The huge majority of the general public wanted a reduced Foreign Aid payment to take place, in view of the huge debts the government has incurred since Covid. As can be noted from the graphics shown above and below, Britain has for many years now been paying far more than its fair share.

Foreign Aid spending by country

Funeral directors not being clear and upfront about  prices

Funeral costsDespite having been put on notice by the government's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) that changes are needed.

 Funeral directors are still not disclosing transparently their prices. 

The CMA launched an investigation of the funeral market in 2018.

It is still ongoing. 

 It has created massive concerns and complaints by pensioners over soaring funeral costs.

 In its final report published in December 2020 the CMA proposed a list of remedies for funeral directors to make their prices clearer. 

But the vast majority have declined to reveal their prices online and in 2021 the CMA has begun legal proceedings.

Law Commission's proposed Leasehold Reform must finally right wrongs

newspapersThe Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government must act, to right some serious wrongs. Here are some of the worst issues the authorities above have ignored to date: It is outrageous that on a wholesale, not individual, basis, Estate Agents and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors ignoring the laws in effect since 2009 that require them to disclose all relevant facts about properties they market for sale or rent, or advise on in terms of value, to freehold and leasehold buyers?   

They can no longer escape their responsibilities in this regard, because the waiver that once applied no longer applies. 

They must be forced to reveal the precise terms of the Annual Estate Rentcharge. 

They should not be misleading their clients by referring to Annual Estate Rentcharges as "harbour charges" implying they are equivalent to regular harbour charges imposed by other harbours and marinas. 

Presently, not on any estate agents or Eastbourne Borough Council or East Sussex County Council or RICS websites is it revealed that purchasers/leaseholders of residential Sovereign Harbour property must pay a unique annual and increasingly expensive flood defence and harbour charge of £263.55 a year in 2020 in addition to council taxes, property insurance, management fees and ground rents.  

Sovereign Harbour properties Because of their failure to disclose the full facts newcomers who buy or lease Sovereign Harbour homes who are not from this area do not find out about this liability until they have completed their relocation or are about to do so, having sold their earlier properties and made their moves, some involving quite a considerable distance. Only when they sign their leases do they find out. 

Local councillors are just as much at fault, for not requiring that estate agents marketing Sovereign Harbour properties specify they are subject to the Annual Estate Rentcharge.  

Nowhere do any estate agents state, as they should, that in respect of the Annual Estate Rentcharge a much wider flood zone area than just Sovereign Harbour is involved, affecting  likely as many as 17,000 properties beyond Sovereign Harbour, including all those in Pevensey, Pevensey Bay Bexhill-on-Sea nine miles to the east, all living in the same flood zone, do not pay a penny for the flood control measures they get.  

Only those 3,400 Sovereign Harbour residents and their successors must pay the Environment Agency charge levied by the multi-billion £ supposedly charitable conglomerate The Wellcome Trust, its Premier Marinas, Sovereign Harbour Trust and other subsidiaries.

Nor is it said, as it should be, by the entities above, estate agents and local authorities that residents alone pay, exempted are all businesses including landlord owners of all properties including managing agents and property developers.

The Eastbourne Member of Parliament and Eastbourne Borough and East Sussex County councillors have always stated they want to help their constituents but have repeatedly refused to help right this wrong by, for example asking our MP and others to get the relevant Act and its covenants repealed. 

In this respect there are two Eastbourne's, not one. One is a fair town but the Sovereign Harbour Part is not. It is subject to costs and restrictions that do not apply anywhere else both in Eastbourne and the rest off the UK.

In fact, one local authority councillor is a Director and Trustee of the private Sovereign Harbour Trust and its subsidiary company both of which levy the Annual Estate Rentcharge on behalf of The Wellcome Trust and Premier Marinas. 

A second unique covenant  requires owners/leaseholders of 369 South Harbour properties in the water feature precinct to pay a further annual charge of £328 in 2020. It is the only such water feature in the world that applies such a charge to properties overlooking it.

Why are garages underneath multi-story residential buildings of flats - occupied by only some of their tenants - required to be subsidized by all tenants but when such buildings have lifts, only their tenants have to pay an additional annual maintenance charge? If lifts are not regarded as common-to-all property because they are not used by all residents, why are garages in the same building? Only certain residents use them. not all in the same building. The inequity caused by the lack of appropriate laws that presently allow owners of specific apartment buildings to tell certain individuals who lease apartments or flats that they can let their premises out on short term daily or weekly or monthly rentals, but at the same time to tell others in the same building, and even to include this in their lease, that short-term renting is not allowed. 

Landlords ought to be required by law to impose the same leasehold restrictions in every lease of every apartment in the same building, instead of requiring some in their leases to abide by certain conditions while allowing others in the same building more freedoms, such as business use, animals, garage use and more.

Mis-use by cyclists of Sovereign Harbour walkways as cycle paths

shared path for cyclists and pedestriansThroughout Sovereign Harbour in Eastbourne, nuisance cyclists, many not living in the harbour area but in nearby caravan parks, interfere daily with the safe passage of resident walking pedestrians. 

Many are elderly and with limited mobility or disabled or have hearing problems. 

Cyclists believe wrongly they have an unrestricted right to cycle on both the narrow North Harbour beachfront pedestrian-only path (not a cycle path), which is not wide enough to let four people pass without giving way) and the wider inner harbour walkways. 

They also believe, again incorrect, they have the right of way and ring their bells to get walkers out of their way. Some cyclists even believe they have a right to ride two abreast. 

They deliberately avoid the less scenic but purpose-built cycle track shared pavement running the entire length of Atlantic and Pacific Avenues. Eastbourne Borough Council and East Sussex Council, both with jurisdiction in this matter, have not acted to stop this abuse.

Nor will the police act. They must take action to stop this before elderly or disabled or deaf walkers get hurt by a cyclist.

More calls for a Pets Charter, needed by lonely disabled householders and pensioners

Pets in leasehold homesMany residential buildings with apartments or flats state in their leaseholds that tenants cannot have animals. But some do anyway, when family members or other guests bring dogs which sometimes wet the carpet of lifts. Yet in Sovereign Harbour, while tenants are so restricted, the general public who use the harbour's pathways and walkways with their dogs are not similarly regulated. They come in droves. Why does this tenancy unfairness by landlords exist? 

Called for - and not by one political party but by those who support other political entities too - is a pledge to give leasehold tenants in both public and private buildings a default right to keep pets in the leased or rented properties. People want and expect expect cross-party support to create or strengthen the rights of tenants to keep most smaller types of pets (cats, dogs, birds, etc). 

Many pensioners have - contrary to their landlord's leasehold requirements - cats or dogs, or fish in tanks or birds in cages as their only full-time companions. But there must also be a proviso that all concerned who want such a Pets Charter - including pensioners and those who are disabled (see below) - are physically able to clean up their pets messes, both indoors and outdoors; and will put their dogs on leashes when required by local ordnances.In the USA, Canada, European Union and elsewhere, but not in the United Kingdom, those those in particular who are disabled or elderly and living on their own as widows or widowers in public or private rented or leased housing are fully entitled under their country's or state's or provincial laws to have an Assistance Animal that is much more than just a pet. 

It is classified as one that provides assistance to or performs tasks for the benefit of a person registered with their authorities as having an applicable disability. Under US Federal Law and with equivalents elsewhere, under the Fair Housing Act, housing providers both public and private individuals who qualify may request to keep an Assistance Animal and housing providers cannot refuse to comply in policies, practices and services. There. an important difference exists between a service animal and an emotional support animal. Service animals are dogs trained to do work and perform tasks for people with disabilities such as pulling a wheelchair, guiding a visually impaired person, alerting someone having a seizure or calming someone suffering from a post-traumatic stress disorder. 

However, the dog's presence must directly relate to the person's registered disability. Service dogs may accompany the disabled anywhere in or out, including local, regional and national government buildings and private sector equivalents. This is one of the points in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). An emotional support animal is often a dog or cat but can include other species. It provides a therapeutic benefit to its owner through companionship. It also provides emotional support and comfort to those with psychiatric disabilities and other mental impairments. The animal is NOT specifically trained to perform tasks to a person suffering from emotional disabilities. However, in the USA, under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), which has no equivalent yet in the UK, the owner an emotional support animal can claim it and public and private houses and landlords must accept it as a reasonable request, even in places where housing units have a "no pets" rule for residents. 

Mortgages and Equity Releases are issued improperly to Sovereign Harbour buyers 

Why? Because Annual Estate Rentcharges restrict this. With estate agents in the Eastbourne Sovereign Harbour area not referring to the main AER covenant, mortgage companies are misled into believing - and individuals are reporting when they come to sell their property - that it is a harbour charge (but no other UK harbour has such a harbour charge) not an estate rentcharge that mortgage companies either deny to applicants or charge extra to indemnify. Nor will a property likely qualify for a lifetime mortgage such as an Equity Release. Yet despite this, residential estate agents selling Sovereign Harbour properties state applicants can obtain mortgages from them as they act as agents for mortgage companies.

More on this to be published shortly.

NHS: how it affects pensioners

NHSWe who live in Sovereign Harbour have a fine National Health Service (NHS) Harbour Medical Practice. It has good doctors and staff, is easy to get to and less than a mile away from where we live.The practice serves approximately 7,500 patients from Sovereign Harbour and nearby. It may surprise people to know  that the NHS, awarded the George Cross by Queen Elizabeth 2 in July 2021 for doing so much to so many in the Covid 19 epidemic of 2020-2021, is the single largest employer both in Eastbourne area, the entire UK and the whole of Europe. 

The following is from the perspective of not NHS employees but patients. Given the size and scope of the NHS there has surely long been an urgent need for a specific NHS University to train and when appropriate  re-train and/or additionally accredit doctors, nurses and other NHS staff?  But this has not yet happened.  Nor are doctors and nurses required to agree to serve the NHS for at least a specified minimum contract time. Nor are doctors, consultants, nurses and other healthcare professionals regarded as NHS employees in their respective fields, despite having NHS email addresses. Instead, most doctors are self-employed. This is a huge additional expense fot the NHS and Treasury that the public pay for in taxes. 

Once, patients at any NHS practice could count on the same doctor attending to their needs for some appreciable time. Long gone are the days when patients knew their doctors would be around for long enough to really get to know about and deal effectively with all manner of health concerns. Nowadays, in many practices, patients have to see different doctors each time.  Healthcare is now more impersonal. With a steady stream of different GPs, maximum efficiency is less likely. More and more patients are being referred to specialists and consultants at hospitals who are here today and gone tomorrow. The one-patient every 7 minutes rule and one specific ailment only for each GP visit has worsened, not bettered, matters. 

So many health problems these days are inter-connected with one helping to cause or affect another. In Eastbourne and area in particular, the population the East Sussex NHS Healthcare Trust cares for is significantly above-average elderly (East Sussex has a relatively low birth rate and high inward migration amongst elderly age groups). Demographic trends indicate that pressure on health and social care services will increase more quickly in the future. Our over 85 population is also projected to grow at 3.5% per annum. In populations that are over 75, certain factors tend to markedly increase the need for hospital or community based healthcare. More people are living with ‘frailty’ and older people are also more likely to have multiple, ongoing health problems (like high blood pressure, angina, diabetes, emphysema) which means that they are more likely to become ill and need hospital attention. 

There is an urgent need to address and medically manage frailty and the risks of frailty outside hospital and  to make the ‘acute’ phase of someone’s illness as short as possible. The ability of the NHS generally to manage this problem and in particular the impact of an increase in those living with frailty will hopefully soon become a key priority. The NHS needs to stop losing money by default and ensure it is reimbursed for its services by non-residents of the UK. British passport-holding visitors from non-European countries, like Africa, Asia, Caribbean islands like Jamaica, Bermuda, Canada and USA are the chief offenders. Some of the latter deliberately time their trips to Britain to coincide with their operations. There have been recent reports of massive golden handouts to retiring or terminated NHS Trusts executives, far higher than most private sector entities would bestow.  

Why are there so many separate trusts with their chief executives paid so much? Surely, regional heads would be more cost-effective? Is the NHS, like the BBC, hugely over-managed with trust executives overpaid because they are both taxpayer-subsidised ? It has also been discovered - again by the Daily Telegraph - that in 2021 the number of NHS managers paid more than the Prime Minister has risen to more than 400, with many earning more then the Prime Minister's £157,000 and with a number of newcomers given salaries of more then £270,000. Action must be taken to reign in public taxpayer funding of the now grossly overweight NHS. In August 2021 42 new managers were appointed with those highest salaries each to run the new NHS entities. The UK's NHS has become so grossly badly Ministry of Health-supervised that the UK has become a health service with a country attached to it, not the other way around.

On 9th September 2021 it was revealed by the Daily Telegraph newspaper that managers, administrators and unqualified assistants make up make up almost 50% of those working in the service, prompting calls for reforms.  The proportion of clinical staff who are professionally trained from 55.5% in 2013 to just 52.5% in 2021, meaning 47.5% of staff have no medical qualifications at all. This is deeply disturbing. In defence of the NHS, when it serves so many people with so much care and devotion, at no cost to them at all for hospitalization and surgery, why should the public the NHS serves be able to sue the NHS for botched births, operations and procedures? None are deliberate but these legal actions cost the NHS £ millions annually in settlement. Surely, there should be a waiver of liability as a pre-condition of use? The scandal of monstrous parking charges at NHS hospitals needs to be investigated. Most NHS hospital car parks, on NHS-owned  property, are run by private car park companies who are grossly negligent yet get paid very well while hospitals themselves, as public entities incur all the expenses and liabilities. 

The private car parking companies allow without any policing chronic misuse by able-bodied drivers of disabled car park spaces in those car parks, especially since the beginning of 2021. Hospitals also have some disabled parking spaces immediately in front of or near key departments. They too are deliberately routinely abused without any action by hospital security staff. Nor can scofflaws be successfully prosecuted because all hospital-related disabled parking spaces whether in car parks or in hospital precincts are regarded as being on private not public property. Private property means all disabled parking bays are advisory, not legally enforceable. Hospitals should have but do not presently qualify for council-or-central government-approved so-called formal bays which have a traffic regulation order which means they can be enforced. Presently, such bays are installed only on where on-street parking restrictions are council-controlled. 

Councils concerned and central government have been both unwilling and unable to do what hospitals, local authorities and central governments beyond the UK have routinely done for years, namely crack down with heavy fines, imprisonment for persistent offenders and confiscation of their vehicles for deliberately and contemptuously ignoring the legal rights of the truly disabled whose disabilities are such that disabled parking spaces closer to hospital and other medical services are really needed. With the end of the former NHS-provided European Health Insurance Cards issued to UK-based travellers, which mostly all expired on January 1, 2021, a UK equivalent so-called Global Health Insurance Card has been issued. 

It does the same job as the older card except that it is not global, is confined to Europe and is intended to provide British cardholders travelling to Europe with access to the same state medical services that locals receive in any of the 27 European countries. UK travellers to Europe should know that they should not expect free services because in some EU countries residents pay a contribution towards the cost of any treatment, with the level of contributions differing from country to country. UK-based pensioners and others who use the card while in Europe will often be charged by the relevant EU authority concerned and should forward these bills and all supporting information or documentation to the NHS Business Services Authority. It may be months before reimbursement is made in whole or in part. For pensioners and others going beyond Europe, they should note carefully that per-night cost of  a hospital in, say Bermuda or the USA will cost the traveller well over £1,000, for more than the cost of their per-trip airline tickets with other relevant medical expenses on top of that.

At some NHS medical centres and GP surgeries it is now stated that pharmacists have a unique role to play. They can often be the first persons to contact for minor health problems where patients do not need to see a doctor. They can also give heart tests. Some common other complaints where a pharmacist might help are aches and pains, headache, migraine, period and teething pains, allergies and stings, colds and flu,  ear care, stomach ache, skin and mouth problems, hay fever and more. But what has not been stated is that when you visit a pharmacy without visiting a doctor first and without a doctor's prescription to help remedy what ails you, any off-the-shelf non-prescription medication you get from that pharmacy will have to be paid for instead of it being normally free of cost when payment exemption normally applies.  Will a UK-USA Trade Deal in 2021 or later mean that the NHS could become a target and made more costly to patients? It is hoped this will not happen, that the BBC not NHS will instead be affected because the USA's Public Broadcasting Service is free to all, unlike the BBC with its awful and expensive TV Licensing requirement for all households including from 2020 those over 75. But it should be known by those who want the NHS to stay British that more and more NHS goods and services are already in American hands. Examples include all Boots pharmacies throughout the UK, owned by an American corporation (the Walgreens Boots Alliance, with Walgreens being one of the largest US pharmacies); in-hospital patient TV services are similarly American-controlled. Vast numbers of NHS-used computers, laptops, scanners and diagnostic machines in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are made in or directly or indirectly supplied by the USA.

The NHS has announced its Long Term plan with more staff to serve in communities. It is encouraging, especially to those of us who are older. Many new services are either already in place or are being contemplated. A Long Term Plan National Assembly is expected. A newcomer is Social Prescribing and its mention of public partners. It appears similar to what has been achieved in NHS Scotland for some time. See We hope this will help all NHS patients to realize what a uniquely valuable organization it is. With Covid-19 cursing us, social distancing rules and regulations are in effect at all NHS and other hospitals. One of many repercussions is the delay of many treatments and operations. Another is that patients now need a specific appointment before they can visit their GP. It will now be at least many months before normal conditions return and in that time there may be some more significant changes ahead that instead of being temporary will be permanent. With many pensioners having been prevented by the pandemic from going to dentists or to other NHS services such as hearing aid centres, there is more need than ever now for the NHS to be all inclusive, to routinely include dental and eye care and treatments to all legal residents, without means-testing. 

Pensioners health-related concerns

Pensioners needsDiseases and conditions become more prominent in the elderly. 

Psycho-social issues can also play a role in physical and mental health of older adults. 

Exercise to think better and improve the mood. Exercises to explore as you age include cycling, flexibility and balance exercises  swimming, resistance training, strength training and walking, 

A wide range of changes happen in the body as we age, not necessarily indicative of an underlying disease but distressing. As the aging process cannot be stopped, being aware of these changes and adopting a healthy lifestyle can reduce their impact on health. Expected bodily changes of aging are many. Physical changes due to aging can occur in almost every organ

.A balanced diet and regular exercise result in better health for seniors. Routine screening tests and preventive measures are recommended. Important preventive measures at home can improve the safety and health of seniors. Geriatrics is the medical subspecialty, the care of the elderly. Physicians with specialized training are geriatricians.

Pensioners lose triple lock in 2022 

The Daily Telegraph reported on 24 July 2021 that pensioners who qualify for the triple lock could lose it amid mounting concern in Government over the "unfairness" of hiking taxes on young people to pay for social care reforms. There is concern that if social care reform is paid for partly or wholly by increasing national insurance, which pensioners stopped paying for once the reached 65, hiking taxes, especially during the pandemic recovery, will hurt working families. It would also be a clear breach of the Conservative Party manifesto pledge not to increase income tax, national insurance or VAT as part of a triple tax lock. But such promises were made before Covid 19 struck with its devastation of the UK economy that has forced the Chancellor to borrow billions to help individuals and families affected.

Pensioners more vulnerable to Covid

Covid  Astra Zenica vaccine given to UK residentsMedical authorities have identified older adults and people who have severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung, or kidney disease at higher risk of COVID-19

They are twice as likely to be affected. 

This is because as people age, their immune systems change, making it harder for their body to fight off diseases and infection. 

Their underlying health conditions that make it harder to cope with and recover from them. 

Age increases the risk that the respiratory system or lungs will shut down, especially when an older person has COVID-19.

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid exposure. 

People at higher risk need to stock up on supplies.

They should take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others.

When out in public, they keep away from others who are sick.

They should limit close contact, and wash hands often.

They should avoid crowds as much as possible.

They should avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel.

They should stay home as much as possible to further reduce the risk of being exposed.

People with serious chronic conditions, especially the elderly, should not go to crowded places. 

They should not be in any situation that might increase the risk given their own vulnerabilities. 

They need to stay calm and share facts, nor fear; wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands; stay home when sick; cover cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash' clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces every day.

 Covid 19 graphicFamily members, neighbors, and caregivers need to:

Nursing and retirement homes now

Pensioners now wary of overseas travel

pensioner travelBorder restrictions, declaration forms before flying, quarantine hotels, travel corridors, travel policies, vaccine passports  and more have largely destroyed or delayed in 2021 any desire to travel beyond the UK. 

Cost of Covid Testing. This will add hundreds of bounds for each test you have to endure before, during and after your trip. It adds hugely to your costs. It can also be a rip-off if the testing entity does not report the findings, as has happened already in the latter part of 2021 to many unwary travellers. 

The insult to injury is that some of these countries will not accept NHS testing but insist on their own less qualified and inferior-to-NHS standards, yet claim they have "the highest standards". Now required by a number of countries, with each charging an average of US$75 or equivalent, a sneaky way for countries concerned to both make money on the sly and collect commissions from the firms doing the testing. Travellers must personally contact the country to be visited before airline flights are made

Country-by-country Authorizations. This is not just an additional expense but a logistical nightmare. Countries concerned are using the pandemic as an extra way to make money from their visitors, particularly in the Caribbean.

Declaration Form. Since 8 March 2021 passengers have to state precisely why they are travelling, if the trip is essential (compassionate grounds, work, wedding, education

Evidence of valid reason to travel. Proof must be submitted, such as proof of employment contract, court decision, proof of place of residence, etc.

Locator form. Required of all incoming and outgoing tourists.

Passenger information form on arrival. Required by most destinations.

Quarantine on arrival or departure or both. Mandatory in some countries including the UK

Test before departure. To be done 72 hours before travelling to or from the UK, or be denied boarding the aircraft.

Test results and/or vaccine certificates prior to travel.

Test on arrival. Now required by many countries, with likely costs to passengers.

Vaccine passports. Now being insisted on by some governments, cities and cruise ships. Those who have refused vaccinations or approved testing will not be allowed to travel or board cruise ships, or visit nightclubs, etc.

Prescriptions ordered for home delivery can now take weeks to arrive

Once-reliable NHS-funded pharmacies offering a delivery service once delivered their prescriptions in 2-3 days. But no more. Eastbourne-area anxious disabled persons and pensioners  who have stayed at home for days in hope of getting those prescriptions ordered more than 10 days earlier are being let down.   They can't get out to collect them now either have to get a friend or a taxi to collect what they need. Pensioners living in Eastbourne's Sovereign Harbour and Langley areas have complained bitterly after having been let down not just once but numerous times. In desperation, they have now requested their GPs via their online Patient Access to change to pick-up instead of deliveries. Pharmacies concerned say they are very busy and have a shortage of drivers....

Social Care Reforms should include a National Care Service (NCS) for pensioners

seniors2This should  supplement the NHS. Presently, nursing and retirement homes are not adequately nationally and regionally legally regulated. The Care Commission is inadequate. Pensioners do not presently get the legal protections offered in the European Union and elsewhere abroad. However, in May 2021, after years of procrastination, the government finally announced a Health & Care Bill which was controversially approved by Members of Parliament in September 2021. 

In theory, it will at last enable major improvements and reform social care.  Legislated at last was a cap on spending by individuals, many of whom in the last have had to sell their homes. The cap is £86,000. But the fine print of that legislation has revealed it is more medical care only. It does not accommodation in care homes, or food, or utilities there pensioners will have to pay. And the cost, to be paid for by all working taxpayers including pensions who are still working, is immense, a 1.25% increase in National Insurance, a new dividend tax on investments income and more. 

The Government has promised to reform care before the end of 2021Nursing and retirement homes staff are often poorly paid, on minimum wages and living, medical and other standards existing at those residential homes can vary hugely. And a huge injustice occurs, with highest council tax payers in individual councils paying for most of the costs of council-provided retirement homes but getting nothing back in return, no free council-provided retirement homes, only huge assessed and increased annual costs, while those with total assessed assets including the value of their homes if they own them of under £24,500, with many of them openly cheating without oversight and penalty to pay nothing at all for their council-subsidised retirement homes.

The current social care system used by local authorities throughout the UK to allow less  affluent pensioners who have paid minimum taxes to pay nothing at all for social care while making the more affluent who have paid the highest council and other taxes to bear the cost is massively unjust and unfair, totally  unlike the methodology long-used in the European Community. There, National Health Service and Local Authority equivalents were long ago integrated and treat all citizens fairly and equally. There, there is no need to sell your home, or seek a "Deferred Payment Agreement" with your relevant local  authority.

 It has been revealed that more than 6,400 such agreements worth over £214 million are in effect. Under such agreements if their savings are less than £24,500 then in England then the local council agrees to pay home care fees itself and is repaid from the estate of the person in care when he or she dies. In bleak contrast, except for the system shown above that merely defers payment, does not eliminate it, here in the UK those with total assets including their homes exceeding £23,500 may have to pay up to 100% of their care, while others with total assets including the value where they live if their own it or own their lease for over a specified length of time can get up to 100% local authority funding. 

Scandinavian and other European countries are appalled by this. A new type of social care system – a combination of National Health and Social Care Service – integrated with the NHS and funded through general taxation, is called for, urgently. A few years ago, the Scottish Government introduced it and while not perfect, it is working. The rest of the UK should, too. We should not be thinking about a new plan for Social Care. as announced - but only in one line - in the Queen's Speech in May 2021 that may merely provide a cap on the amount some pensioners have to pay while out of their own funds while most other pensioners cheat in their declarations to their local councils and get 100% funding while paying nothing at all. 

We need a national plan to ensure the investment and long-term action needed to support and finance all people equally regardless of their income throughout the rest of their lives. Hopefully, even if it means that pensioners could lose the so-called "triple lock" next year, with the national government suspending the triple lock provisions, meaning suspending the guarantee on pension increases going up by the annual cost-of-living, something acceptable is now pending.  An increase of one percent, or £10 billion, rise in National Insurance Contributions (NICS) seems a logical way to pay for the approximately £10 billion annual cost of these much-needed social care reforms. 

Social media such as Facebook, etc need same legislation as printed publications

Online orderingMany people these days regard the social media platforms of Facebook, Google, Instagram, Twitter, U Tube, WhatsApp and more  as essential, but others do not. The legal profession, particularly including judges, have treated them with grave suspicion while others have planned family get-togethers around them having assumed, wrongly, that everyone worth knowing also uses social media. Many people have been harmed by them for what they allege and publish without having any of the publishing constraints required by law from publishers of books, newspapers and the like. They seem to think they should be exempt for any laws or regulations. 

Because they have become so popular as advertising media but are currently without any responsibility or accountability whatsoever, they now pose a grave danger to other printed and published media that are subject to legal constraints in responsibility and accountability. They have also become addictive to children in particular. The government is right to seek to control them. Those social media platforms that have failed to protect children from online harm now face being shut down - and rightly so - under proposed new laws. But this is not enough. They have also been used to send secret messages to people to attack others in terrorism incidents or to mouth racial abuse. 

The social media platforms have also been dodging the taxes they should be charged on their enormous incomes. Too many people have complained how they regularly receive hat mail and racist abuse published on social media.  If newspapers and other print media did the same they would incur potentially massive legal liability. But until now social media has been self-regulated, has failed miserably and should now be under the same legal restraints in ever way as newspapers. Former Deputy Prime Minister Sir Nick Clegg, Facebook's global VP and PR chief, is opposed to any new laws to right the wrongs listed above. He has led the lobbying effort to prevent the bid of former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre to become chairman of the media watchdog OFCOM. Mr. Dacre announced his determination to spearhead the successful implementation of new online harms laws and hold Google and Facebook in particular to account for child sexual abuse images, hate mail, terrorist material and suicide content carried on their services. OFCOM currently regulates telecoms, broadcasting and the postal services but its remit is being broadened to include the internet. 

Its new powers will allow OFCOM to block the likes of Facebook and Twitter from operating in the UK, or make them subject to a multi-million pound fine worth up to one tenth of their entire turnover, for any violations. Mr. Dacre has made clear he wants their monopolistic powers curbed and their powers to publish regulated. There has been long-standing emnity between him and Sir Nick Clegg. The latter has fought running battles with regulators and politicians around the world who have been alarmed by the ability of the social media to harm in their publishing without having any accountability, unlike the print media

Sovereign Harbour Eastbourne's £261.80 per residence 2021 Annual Estate RentCharge


State of Caring 2021 Survey launched by Carers UK

It will help raise awareness of the challenges faced by unpaid carers, including those who get merely the government's Carer's Allowance. It is the most comprehensive survey into the experiences of caring. It also asks carers to state their own concerns, hopes and wishes It is hoped that when published it will mean significant improvements for both carers and the people they care for. It will take about 30 minutes to complete online. Carers who elect not to complete it are missing out on a unique opportunity not only to express their views but to get real improvements made in the lives of carers and the cared-for.

Supermarket petrol providers now insist on £100 card balance before you buy

petrol at supermarketsPensioners please note. 

Now applies in ASDA, Morrison's, Sainsbury and Tesco. It affects all motorists who who pay by card.

A debit or credit or pre-paid card must have a prior balance of at lest £100 to fill the car's or van's tank.

If card balance is £50 the purchaser will only be allowed to buy £50 worth. 

The available balance is communicated back to the fuel pump, dictating the maximum amount of fuel you can buy. 

If the purchaser does not want to pay by card, he or she can instead fill up then pay by cash  at the till. 

Travel Insurance for elderly medical-challenged: too-high priced

WalletMore than 15 million people so affected are unfairly treated by travel insurers. Those issued by Santander and its travel insurer Chubb were singled out in a The Times newspaper report of 6 October 2018, page 65.

The Financial Conduct Authority, the industry regulator, has noted how those with medical conditions face a lack of transparency around policies and have great difficulty finding competitively-priced insurance. 

Options could and should be available to those who may need them, as well as those not always needed, such as repatriation home in the event of death. One possible way is for the NHS to start insuring travellers. 

After all, it knows the health condition of applicants. It should not be a free service but at lower cost than the premiums charged by private-sector insurers. Only in the UK do citizens and residents have such a hard and expensive time in getting travel insurance at an affordable price. Why! Canadian, American, Europeans, etc. can get travel insurance inexpensively. 

Some pensioner travellers have reported some good news, however. Boots Travel Insurance has been praised for its price-competitiveness. 

Travel risk-free for pensioners offered by very few companies

travel risk-free with refunds guaranteed

Bravo Citalia for announcing this!

Guaranteed travel is offered by Citalia and Easyjet. At least one airline and some much-respected travel companies are now offering what the graphic above shows, offered by Citalia (a firm this author has used and will gladly do so again), says. 

Easyjet has revised and much-improved its offerings and now gives a nearly similar risk-free guarantee. This has been welcomed. But not from other major travel entities. They do not offer such comprehensive and inclusive first-class risk-free travel. Long-haul airlines such as British Airways and Virgin, Sandals in the Caribbean, Viking and others still have pre--Covid travel refund policies that do not offer a refund guarantee, free amendments and free cancellations. All some offer are later bookings at no additional charge when circumstances allow.

Winter Fuel Allowance (WFA) for pensioners not increased since 2008

Winter fuel allowwance-starvedA universal age-related benefit not means-tested. 

It once enabled UK-resident pensioners to recoup about a third of the cost of their heating and lighting costs. 

Now it is less than one sixth. 

Yet in comparison,

Compare this to the pitiful rise to the WFA of merely £50 a year in 2008 with nothing more since that time. 

More people than ever before are facing tough choices.

new Royal yachtFuel poverty affects over 40% of all pensioners. 

There are some who can afford to give the WFA to the NHS. But most pensioners of moderate or lower means cannot. 

This long-standing matter has never been addressed by Members of Parliament, local authorities. 

Premier Boris Johnson and his new majority government must right this wrong if they wish to be re-elected in 2023.

It seems so wrong that the government, with its huge salary increases to all MPs in recent and current tax years can commit £150 million to the building of a Royal Yacht Britannia replacement and award many other new commitments to a number of entities amounting to millions of pounds sterling. 

 Yet the government has not seen fit to not award pensioners any similar increases in WFA. It should have done so many years ago and then annually, as it does in so many other ways to so many.

It's truly disconcerting that no pensioners' or seniors' groups in the entire UK - only this one - have stated this on their websites.

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