I apologise if this post annoys or offends people, but this rant and rave is about something rather near to my heart.
One of the news items being announced this week is about television licenses.
In 2020, the government is stopping its subsidy to allow pensioners over the age of 75 to have a free Television license. Instead, the BBC has been asked to foot the cost of these free licenses.
Not surprisingly the BBC is not happy with this idea as it means a huge chunk of the revenue they get from the TV License will have to be spent giving freebies to the old.
Apparently the ‘Powers to be’ are also asking the BBC to focus on young listeners and viewers. So this means more programmes will presumably be more attractive to younger people. If the corporation has to subsidise the free over 75s licenses, there will less money to make programmes.
Running alongside this idea, a train of thought suggests that pensioners in this country are better off than young people, so why should they get free licenses.
Let me give you my thoughts as a pensioner (who pays for a license), and enjoys watching television.
Firstly, the quality and choice of television material on all the channels has gone down over the last couple decades. There are more repeats of all types of programmes, and sometimes a programme is repeated within the same week.
…and it could have already been a repeat of an older programme.
I enjoy a quiz show, but once again I am noticing that quite popular shows such as Pointless and The Chase are repeated. I recognise the contestants quite often, and the questions are rather familiar. I assume the television companies don’t think we take note of the date on the end credits that say when it was made.
… or perhaps that is just an older person’s thing.
There are very few films on the free to air channels anymore. I remember a time when the BBC and ITV regularly showed full length films.
There seems to be a policy of cramming wall to wall soap operas, between over hyped reality shows, or fly on the wall series about every possible professional service. And then there are continual talent contests to find new celebrities, from which just a small percentage are still remembered after 12 months.
Hey, hang on there a cotton-picking minute. These programmes filling our schedules appear to already be targeted at the younger generation.
Add on the recent cluster of fringe TV channels where they show new wave alterative comedy shows. I am sorry but very few make me chuckle. In fact, I rarely understand what they are saying let alone where the humour is hiding.
Targeted at young people I believe.
To be honest I am surprised that very few people over 75 find anything they enjoy on the television, unless it is a nostalgic reminder of their lives when they were younger.
OK, let me turn to the idea that older people are financially comfortable.
Yes, Deb and I have a comfortable existence, but we are certainly not able to enjoy the lifestyle of the younger generation who spend more on a night in the pub, or a month’s subscription for their mobile phone, or Sky TV, than we can afford for several weeks of entertainment.
Worse still there are hundreds and thousands of older people who are not financially comfortable and have no option but to rely on their radio or television for entertainment. And many of these people are single and lonely. That free television license means they have something to enjoy on long, lonely nights.
The older generation are getting longer in retirement to enjoy themselves, but few are actually able to do anything really special, because it is too expensive.
For the people who say we have superb pensions, just realise that a pension is the only income that some people have.
There is no overtime, or cash bonus for Christmas.
They cannot pay for televisions the size of their living room wall.
They cannot afford the holidays that their grandchildren splash out on, and such holidays weren’t even available when they were young enough to have enjoyed one.
Before I am classed at someone who hates younger people, my rants and moans also apply to young single people and families who are working their socks off to exist on part time and zero contract slave jobs. I cannot envisage how hard and heart-breaking that must be.
It does look like there are groups of young people at one end of the population that are as badly off as the pensioners at the other end of life. Politicians say all the right words, and constantly suggest how they will improve life for everyone, but nothing ever happens. The young poor, and the older poor, are ignored.
Strange as it might seem, I am sure that if the struggling youngsters were paid a proper living wage, and the care services for the elderly were centrally invested in, there would be less stress on hospitals, and almost certainly less mental or depression-based issues eating the National Health budgets.
Statements from ministers assure us that more people are in work, and the average pay rise is higher than it has been for many years, and the standard of living is improving.
There is a flaw with this statement.
Yes, the majority of people in this country are quite well paid, and are enjoying good increases in their salaries. But when they have a ‘2% pay-rise’, that is 2% of a salary which is significantly higher than a state pension, or ‘living wage’ minimum earnings.
I look back, with a smile on my face, to a time when someone was paid a wage that was the same for all workers doing that same job. Each year there was a pay rise of a sum of money, and everyone knew how that stacked up against the cost of living.
e.g. we are spending £3 a week more this year, and we have received a £3.50 a week pay rise.
Now virtually every worker has different salaries that are kept secret. The workforce in a factory might get a 2% pay rise that could appear to be above the rate of inflation. But 2% of £40,000 is £800 per year, while 2% of £17500 (national minimum wage) is just £350, or 2% of £8500 (maximum state pension) is £170.
The cost of food, housing, transport, and entertainment is rising at the same cost for everyone.
Hey, and for a basic pensioner, that £170 annual pay rise would just cover the current television license fee.
This TV License topic is just the latest idea to ‘bash’ those people (young and old) who struggle financially.
The lowest possible measure of rate of inflation is used to calculate pension or benefit increases.
Governments hide behind the curtain of comfort, and pretend not to notice the hundreds of young and old people using soup kitchens, overnight refuges, or food banks. These invisible people are an embarrassment to political messages of success and comfort.
Britain is supposed to be a wealthy, and caring nation. Sadly, this only applies to the pictures and videos of busy highstreets, well dressed bankers and stockbrokers, pubs and clubs full of binge drinkers, and an increasing number of millionaires.
Politicians shut small local hospitals because it is more efficient to have a giant hospital in a central position with superb services. They can perform miracles for sick and injured patients, but they are not economically efficient for hundreds and thousands of mental strugglers, or old people with minor ailments that take longer to repair.
Those forgotten local hospitals with less of the senior consultants, and smaller teams of nurses, used to look after those older people.
We had institutions (horrible name) where depressed, stressed, and mentally poorly people could be looked after.
We had care homes for the long-term elderly that were not used as a profit earner for private or corporate owners.
Remember that state pension of £8500 a year? That will typically pay for about 4 months of care in these places.
I fear for my future. Who will pay for me or my wife if we have to go into care?