Blame government policies for ignoring housing issues - not pensioners who have worked hard

A House of Lords’ report recommended that concessions for pensioners in regards to free bus passes, free TV licences for the over 75s, winter fuel allowances and changes to pensions should be carefully looked at in the light of the comparative affluence of today’s ‘baby boomers’ and the fact that the millennial generation of young adults born in the 80s and 90s are being squeezed out of the housing market and finding it harder to achieve the same standards of living as their parents generation.

Thursday, 15th August 2019, 2:14 am
The magic of television is captured in this photograph taken back in the 1940s
The magic of television is captured in this photograph taken back in the 1940s

They are half as likely to be able to afford to own their own house by the age of 30.

Well, you know, I’m really sorry about that, but I do resent the allegations.

I may be somewhat older than a baby boomer with my children born in the 1970s, but I would rather blame a succession of government policies which has totally ignored issues like affordable housing, than blame mine or subsequent generations.

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We simply cannot be blamed for any comfortable lifestyle we may enjoy as a result of working hard and looking after our money.

It is true, but not always the case, that we are better off than our parents were, but that is to be expected as they were picking themselves up after years of war and rationing.

But on the plus side, they did find it easy to obtain a council house and in the area they wanted to live.

However, it is very wrong to generalise about pensioners and their standards of living as many even today find it difficult to make ends meet.

As far as the discontinuation of free television licences, this concession was stopped over four years by the Government for over 75 years olds, with the BBC then having the responsibility to decide on the future of the concession.

The BBC, known as ‘Auntie’, has long been viewed with affection and trust since its early days.

Our parents may have remembered the launch of BBC television on 2nd November 1936 even though they wouldn’t have been able to afford to buy a television set, and probably didn’t know anyone who did have one.

There were only 500 television sets in the UK at first, but by the time the coronation of King George VI was televised in 1937 there were 9,000 sold in the London area alone.

Television ceased in 1939 during the war years and then came back in June 1946 with the first broadcast hosted by Jasmine Bligh.

Although television was fairly basic during the early 50s, it boomed in 1953 when over 8 million people watched the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth 2nd in their homes and over 10 million in other people’s homes.

The Coronation turned television into the medium to shape our lives.

In 1960 BBC Television Service became BBC TV and then BBC1 in 1964 after the introduction of BBC2.

People have remained loyal to the BBC all their lives and cannot believe that they could be ‘doing the dirty’ on them at the time in their lives when they need the service most.

Age UK says that many people in their 80s and 90s and who may be sick or disabled, will give up what is often their only window into the world, alleviation of isolation, and only form of companionship when many may very rarely see a human face especially if they are housebound.

It seems that three in every ten people over the age of 75 live just above the poverty line and may well choose to scrimp on food or heating in order to afford a television licence.

My view on concessions to older people is that it should be properly means tested.

It is interesting when reports are published by the House of Lords, a body of people who are unlikely ever to need any sort of boost to their income.

But it seems that despite widespread consternation, the free television licences are to be discontinued next year.

As far as messing about with our free bus passes, pensioners are normally quite a peaceable section of the community, but I do think there could be widespread protest if there were any suggestion of the discontinuation of free bus travel for pensioners.

Research has found that it leads to a better quality of life for pensioners, offering clear benefit to older people’s health and well being.

It helps pensioners to stay active, and facilitates contact with friends and family, which in itself has a positive impact on mental health. Pensioners are less likely to be sedentary or socially isolated.

When I get on the bus in a morning to town, it’s always full of older people and there is always a buoyant, happy atmosphere with plenty of chatter.

A bit like an adult version of ‘The Wheels on the Bus!’

Pensioners are a huge spending force.

Not only shopping, but socialising in bars and restaurants, taking advantage of concessions in cinemas, meeting up with walking or social groups like 50+.

I can envisage a ghost town in Sheffield if pensioners stopped travelling on the buses in great numbers.

And don’t start me on discontinuing the Winter Fuel Allowance. It’s simply not true that we are all saving it for holidays in Benidorm!

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