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Forbes Clan General John Forbes July 4 music Pensioners Concerns  

Eastbourne's Sovereign Harbour is not for the elderly seeking to downsize

Moving here means payment of expensive Annual Estate Rentcharges found nowhere else in the UK or world-wide

Pensioners concernsPensionsretirement

By Keith A. Forbes at editor@sovereignharbourgazette.org.uk. He and his wife live in Sovereign Harbour North, Eastbourne. A disabled journalist, he is a member of the UK's The Society of Authors and an activist for the elderly and disabled. :

BBC TV Licence requires over-75s to pay £157.50 per home for TV & computers

seniors watching TVFrom 1 August 2020, or the first time in over 20 years, pensioners over 75 years old are 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 now in 2021 and since April 2020 when we have all been in lockdown. Once, the BBC promised free licensing to the over 75s without any means testing. It has broken that promise and this will never be forgiven or forgotten. 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  assets less than £6,500 qualify for and receive the government's Pension Credit. Around 900,000 over-75 people were entitled to free TV. Now, 3.75 million new people have to pay the fee. 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. 

Although some prominent Members of Parliament  claimed they voted against it, it was approved in Parliament - by MPs who either don't pay or can claim the TV Licence as a deductible expense.

And why should we have to put up with any of the large army of presenters who use their BBC profiles to push their political and social views! Who wants to hear the rubbish views spouted by opinionated Chris Packham in Countryfile, or James Wong, or Gary Lineker or Naga Munchetty, or the constant stream of deeply biased opinions and conjecturing, never news but always deeply prejudiced views of the BBC's North America editor, Jon Sopel and Katty Kay. In any less democratic country these two would have been expelled for cause for their sheer cattyness.

Look below at the astonishing salaries the licence-fee funded BBC pays its staff! Clearly, with these huge payments the BBC can afford to exist without any 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 in yearly salaries: (Most American and Canadian - and other Commonwealth countries and British Overseas Territories earn 50-75% less in their similar roles):

Gary Lineker. £1,750,000. Men's football.

Zoe Ball. £1,360,000. BBC Radio 2. 

Graham Norton. £725,000. BBC Radio and television.

Steve Wright. £475,000. BBC Radio and television.

Huw Edwards.  £465,000. BBC News and and news specials.

Fiona Bruce. £450,000. BBC News and Question Time.

Vanessa Feltz. £405,000. Multiple stations.

Lauren Laverne. £395,000. BBC 6 music.

Stephen Nolan. £390,000. Multiple stations.

Alan Shearer. £390,000. Men's football.

Ken Bruce. £385,000. BBC Radio 2. 

Emily Maitlis. £370,000. Newsnight.

Claudia Winkleman. £365,000. Radio and television.

Andrew Marr. £360,000. The Andrew Marr TV show.

Scott Mills.  £345,000. BBC Radio 1.

George Alagiah. £325,000. BBC News.

Jeremy Vine. £320,000. Radio 2.

Nicky Campbell, £300,000. Radio 5 Live.

Nick Robinson. £295,000. Radio 4 Today.

Laura Kuenssberg. £290,000. Political editor.

Jason Mohammad - £285,000. Radio and sport.

Jo Whiley. £280,000. Radio 2.

Greg James. £275,000. Radio 1. 

Sara Cox. £275,000. Radio 2. 

Sophie Raworth. £275,000. BBC News at Six and BBC News at Ten.

Evan Davis. £275,000. Radio 4 PM.

Mishal Husain. £265,000. Today. 

Dan Walker. £260.000. BBC News and Sport.

Tina Daheley. £255,000. News and Radio.

Martha Kearney. £255,000. Today.

Sarah Montague.. £250,000. World at One.

Justin Webb. £250,000. Today.

Mark Chapman. £245,000. Multiple sports.

Nick Grimshaw. £240,000. Radio 1.

Jon Sopel. £235,000. BBC North America.

Trevor Nelson. £220,000. Radio 2. 

Jeremy Bowen. £220,000. On-air editor and correspondent.

Kirsty Wark. £215,000. Newsnight.

Mary Berry. £215,000. Television.

Clive Myrie. £215,000. News. 

Louise Minchin. £215,000. Breakfast. 

Victoria Derbyshire. £215,000. Victoria Derbyshire Show.

Katya Adler. £210,000. On-air editor and EU correspondent.

Fergal Keane. £205,000. On-air editor and correspondent.

Amol Ragan. £205,000. On-air editor and correspondent.

Jermaine Jenas. £200,000. Men's football. 

Sue Barker. £200,000. Tennis.

Nana Munchetty. £195,000. BBC Breakfast. 

John McEnroe. £195,000. Tennis.

Simon Jack. £190,000. On-air editor and correspondent

Charlie Stayt. £190,000. BBC Breakfast.

Mark Easton. £185,000. On-air editor and correspondent.

Gabby Logan. £185,000. Multiple sports.

Reeta Chakrabarti. £180,000. News.

Rachel Burden. £175,000. Radio 5 Line. 

James Naughtie. £170,000. On-air editor and correspondent.

Jonathan Agnew. £170,000. Cricket. 

Nihal Arthanayake. £170,000. Radio 5 Live. 

John Pienaar. £165,000. On-air editor and correspondent.

Ben Brown. £165,000. News. 

Orla Geurin. £160,000. On-air editor and correspondent.

Simon McCoy. £160,000. News. 

Shaun Keaveny. £160,000. BBC 6 Music.

Carrie Gracie. £155,000. News.

Faisal Islam. £155,000. On-air editor and correspondent.

Clara Amfo. £155,000. Radio 1. 

Clare Balding. £155,000. Multiple sports. 

Adrian Chiles. £155,000. Radio 5 Live. 

Carolyn Quinn. £150,000. Westminster Hour. 

Mary Ann Hobbs. £150,000. BB6 Music.

Steve Lamacq. £150,000. BBC 6 Music.

Joanna Gosling. £150,000. News. 

Jane Hill. £150,000. News.  

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Council Tax increases/injustices/wrongs

For more details see Council Tax Wrongs. .

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Covid travel bureaucracy makes pensioners wary of overseas travel

pensioner travelBorder restrictions, declaration forms before flying, quarantine hotels, travel corridors, travel policies, vaccine passports  and more have largely destroyed in 2021 at least 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, each drip if you can afford more than one,

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.

Traffic light system for countries and protocols:

2021 traffic light system complicating matters

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Devolution has been a costly massive mistake

It 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.  

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.   

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

Disability seatingSee Sovereign Harbour Disability Association

Here in Eastbourne, while on the police website the police say that in particular they protect the vulnerable - the elderly and/or disabled - in fact 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 favored by the elderly and disabled with mobility problems and their carers. 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.

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Foreign Aid cuts are justified

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Health Concerns of Pensioners

Pensioners needsExercise to think better and improve the mood. Exercises to explore as you age include

Walking

Swimming

Cycling

Resistance training

Strength training

Flexibility and balance exercises.

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

Some diseases and conditions become more prominent in the elderly. Psycho-social issues can also play a role in physical and mental health of older adults. 

A balanced diet and regular exercise are strongly linked to better health outcomes in seniors. 

A series of routine screening tests and preventive measures are recommended for and needed by the elderly.

Important preventive measures at home can improve the safety and health of seniors.

Geriatrics is a medical subspecialty dedicated to the care of the elderly. Physicians who have specialized training in this field are known as geriatricians.

Family history, age and lifestyle play a large role in risk assessment for certain medical conditions. Many health concerns for seniors can be prevented or the progression slowed by making smart, healthy choices and visiting their GP for regular screening.

Balance issues. Falls are the leading cause of injury among older adults, and maintaining your balance and mobility is key in fall prevention.

Body shape: As a result of bony changes of aging, body stature can become shorter and curvature of the back vertebrae may be altered. Increased muscle loss and reduced fat metabolism can also occur. Fat can redistribute to the abdominal area and buttock areas. Maintaining an ideal body weight becomes more difficult.

Bones, joints, and muscles: Bones typically lose density and shrink in size making them more susceptible to fractures. Muscles shrink in mass and become weaker. Joints can suffer from normal wear and tear; joints become inflamed, painful, and less flexible.

Bowel and bladder: Bowel and bladder control can cause problems with incontinence (involuntary loss of feces or urine). Additionally, bowel and bladder habit can change. Constipation is common in older adults, as are urinary frequency and difficulty initiating urine.

Cancer. The risk for some types of cancer increases as you age. For example, women become more at risk for cervical or endo-metrial cancers, while men have a higher risk for prostate cancer. While preventing cancer altogether may not be possible, screenings to detect certain cancers in the early stages can help effectively treat them.

Cognitive decline. While some memory loss is common as you age, developing Alzheimer’s disease is not. It’s important to recognize the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s, as early intervention and treatment can be key in slowing the progression of the disease.

Dementia. An umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders or conditions affecting the brain. Of the many different types the two most common are Alzheimer's and vascular dementia. The brain is made up from nerve cells(neurones) that communicate with each other with messages. Dementia damages the nerve cells in the brain so messages cannot be sent effectively to and from the brain, which prevents the body from functioning normally.

Dentistry. Not part of the regular NHS program, to the disappointment of pensioners, particularly those on limited incomes. There are NHS dentists but treatment is free only to those whose limited assets and means qualify them.

Diabetes. It’s estimated that 25 percent of adults age 65 and older have type 2 diabetes. The sooner you know you are at risk or have diabetes, the sooner you can begin managing your blood sugar and making lifestyle changes that can better control it.

Face: Aging changes also take place in the face. Other than wrinkles and age spots, the overall facial contour can change. Overall loss of volume from facial bone and fat can result in less tightness of the facial skin and sagging. The face becomes droopier and bottom heavy.

Hair and nails: Hair can become thinner and weaker as a person ages. Dry hair may lead to itching and discomfort. Nails may become brittle and unshapely. Nails can also get dry and form vertical ridges. Toe nail thickening (ram's horn shape) is common. Nail fungal infections may occur frequently.

Hearing: Changes in nerves of hearing and ear structures can dim hearing and cause age-related hearing loss. Higher frequencies become harder to hear. 43 percent of people who experience hearing loss are 65 or older. Hearing aids can be obtained without charge from the NHS, or from other entities at cost. 

Heart disease. The leading cause of death for adults over the age of 65. Conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol need to be managed properly and taking good care of your heart are vital to avoid developing heart disease in your later years.

Hormones and endocrine glands: Hormonal changes are seen commonly in the elderly. Most common is the hormonal control of blood sugar and carbohydrate metabolism leading to diabetes. Thyroid dysfunction and problems with fat and cholesterol metabolism are also commonly encountered. Calcium and vitamin D metabolism may also become altered. Sexual hormones reach a low level and can lead to erectile disfunction and vaginal dryness. 

Immunity: The body's immune system can get weaker with age. Blood cells that fight infections (white blood cells) become less effective leading to more frequent infections.

Influenza or pneumonia. Infections like the flu or pneumonia aren’t specifically senior illnesses, however, seniors are more vulnerable to them and due to weakened immune systems, may be less likely to successfully recover from them.

Memory: Problems with memory are common in seniors. However, it is important to realize that minor memory problems do not necessarily constitute dementia or Alzheimer's disease. Simple lapses of memory such as not remembering where you left a key or whether you locked the door are a normal part of aging.

Mobility and balance: A person's mobility and balance can be affected by various age related changes. Bone, joint, and muscle problems listed above in conjunction with changes in nervous system are the major contributors to balance problems. Falls may occur resulting in further damage with bruises and fractures.

Oral health problems. Not all seniors lose their teeth, but issues like gingivitis that leads to periodontitis, a bacterial infection that affects the gums and bones supporting the teeth, can be common in older adults. Proper oral care and seeing the dentist for a cleaning every six months can help ensure your teeth and gums are as healthy as possible.

Osteo-arthritis or osteoporosis. Millions of older adults have low bone mass or osteoporosis, and almost all adults over age 80 have some form of osteo-arthritis. Exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet can help protect your bones and joints.

Physiological changes occur in their body as a natural part of aging, as people get older.

Respiratory diseases. Conditions like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can worsen the older you become. However, there are variety of medications available that allow you to breathe easier.

Sleep patterns can significantly change with age. Duration of sleep, quality of sleep, and frequent night time awakening are commonly seen in seniors.

Skin: With aging, skin becomes less flexible, thinner, and more fragile. Easy bruising is noticeable, and wrinkles, age spots, and skin tags may become more apparent. Skin can also become more dry and itchy as a result of less natural skin oil production.

Taste and smell: Sense of smell and, less commonly, sense of taste may fade leading to poor appetite and weight loss.

Teeth and gums: Teeth can become more weak, brittle, and dry. Salivary glands produce less saliva. Gums can also recede (pull back) from the teeth. These changes may result in dry mouth, tooth decay, infections, bad breath, tooth loss and gum disease.

Vision: Eyes can become drier and the lens can lose accuracy with age. Vision can be affected. Glasses or contact lenses can help avoid or delay vision loss.  Maintaining regular screenings for vision is vital as you age. Age-related eye degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma affect millions of older adults.  

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Law Commission's proposed Leasehold Reform must finally right many wrongs

newspapersThe Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government. New government initiatives to modernize living conditions must be implemented. Many affect pensioners and young people living in Sovereign Harbour and elsewhere. 

One is Commonhold instead of Leasehold. Those living in leasehold not freehold properties are asked by the Law Commission to consider the advantages of commonhold over leasehold, such as ownership not expiring so the costly procedure of lease extension does not arise; management responsibility rests exclusively with a commonhold association made up of unit holders - and more. Other proposals are also being debated some of which may affect and benefit the thousands of leaseholders in Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne. Comments to propertyandtrust@lawcommission.gov.uk. Phone 020 3334 5333 or write to Rachel Preston, Law Commission, 1st Floor, Tower, 52 Queen Anne's Gate, London SW1H 9AG.In October 2018 a report from these authors was emailed, highlighting inequities in Sovereign Harbour freehold and leasehold premises. 

Sovereign Harbour propertiesSome really serious issues have still not been addressed by the Leasehold Commission and Law Commission and the Leasehold Commission says Annual Estate Rentcharges are no longer part of its remit.

Here are some of the worst issues the authorities above have deliberately ignored to date: 

Why are 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 should be revealing 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 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.  

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 3,119 Sovereign Harbour residents and their successors must pay the charge levied by the multi-billion £ 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 fair 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 some buildings that could and should be sold as freehold being sold as leasehold? The relatively few so-called "freehold" homes in Sovereign Harbour are not freehold in fee simple. They too must pay the Annual Estate Rentcharge and a management fee. For example, apartments in some new 4-apartment Sovereign Harbour buildings were sold on 999 year leases. So they incur costly management fees and more.

 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, why are their garages? 

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.

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

Throughout 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.

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More calls for introduction of a Pets Charter, needed by many lonely single householders 

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 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 in out of wheelchairs - 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.

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Mortgages and Equity Releases are being 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.

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National Care Service (NCS) is now needed, to supplement the NHS

Two seniorsPresently, nursing and retirement homes do not get adequately nationally or regionally supervised

The Care Quality Commission is inadequate. Nursing 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 annual costs, while those with total assessed assets including the value of their homes if they own them of under £24,500 pay nothing at all for their council-provided retirement homes.

The current social care system used by local authorities throughout the UK cheats residents, 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 £23,250 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 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 callousness towards the elderly here in the UK. 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 throughout Scotland and while not perfect, it is working. The rest of the UK should, too. 

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NHS: how it affects pensioners

NHSWe who live in Sovereign Harbour are fortunate to have a National Health Service (NHS) Harbour Medical Practice excellent in many ways, easy to get to, less than a mile away from where we live and with fabulous doctors and staff. 

The NHS is the single largest employer both in Eastbourne area and the UK

Despite the fine efforts of our busy practice serving approximately 7,500 patients to arrange periodic days to devote to specific health problems and with help from its active volunteer Patient Participation Group, few patients turn up to listen, learn and benefit. 

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?  Should the present system be overhauled? If so, and on graduating from it, surely newly qualified doctors and nurses should agree to serve the NHS for at least a specified minimum contract time? 

Surely, all doctors, consultants, nurses and other healthcare professionals who work at NHS hospitals GP Practices and health centres should be regarded as NHS employees in their respective fields? Instead, most doctors are self-employed, not NHS employees. This is a huge additional expense fot the NHS and Treasury that the public has to pay for in our taxes. 

Once, patients at any NHS practice could count on one 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 implement a system to 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 many recent reports of massive golden handouts to retiring or terminated NHS Trusts executives, far higher than most of the private sector would bestow.  Does the NHS really need so many separate trusts with their chief executives each paid so much? Surely, regional heads would be more cost-effective? Is the NHS over-managed in some areas? 

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 they be able to sue the NHS for those very few operations and procedures which are botched? None are deliberate but these legal actions cost the NHS £ millions annually in settlement. Surely, there should be a waver of liability? 

The Competition and Markets Authority - see https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/competition-and-markets-authority - needs to investigate some outrageous increases in price of certain prescriptions. We expect the NHS with its millions of patients to be able to get advantageous prices from manufacturers.  We expect our government and its agencies, including the Competition and Markets Authority, to act in the interests of consumers and our NHS.

The scandal of monstrous parking charges at NHS hospitals needs to be investigated. Most NHS hospital car parks are run by private car park companies who are grossly negligent. Plus, there is chronic misuse by able-bodied drivers of disabled car park spaces. Councils where they are located and central government have been 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. 

End of NHS-provided European Health Insurance Cards. For most in the UK, they expired on January 1, 2021. A UK equivalent is planned. 

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? 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 Boots and ASDA stores and pharmacies wholly owned by giant American corporations; in-hospital patient TV services are American controlled; corporate ownership in the USA of a vast array of prescription drugs sold or dispensed in the UK; and in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland vast numbers of NHS-used computers and diagnostic machines 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 https://www.nhstayside.scot.nhs.uk/GettingInvolved/NHSTaysidePublicPartners/index.htm. 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. 

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Pensioners more vulnerable to Covid and at higher risk

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; take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others; when out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact, and wash hands often; avoid crowds as much as possible; avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel; and 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.

 Family members, neighbors, and caregivers need to:

  • Know what medications their loved one takes and get them extra on hand.

  • Monitor food and other medical supplies (oxygen, incontinence, dialysis, wound care) needed and create a back-up plan.

  • Stock up on non-perishable food items to minimize trips to stores.

  • Help with disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.

Covid 19 graphicScammers have benefited from fears surrounding the coronavirus. Authorities have identified many and offer tips to protect the vulnerable. These include watching for emails claiming to be from the NHS or councils saying they have information about the virus and offer bogus online offers for vaccinations. 

There currently are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges, or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure COVID-19 online or in stores. Other scammers have sent emails to the vulnerable, asking pensioners and their families or dependents to donate to bogus nonprofits claiming to fight the coronavirus and more. They need to be researched for their authenticity.  

Nursing and retirement homes now

  • Restrict visitation of all visitors and non-essential health care personnel except in end-of-life circumstances. 

  • Screen residents and staff for signs of infection. 

  • Cancel group activities such as communal dining. 

  • Offer alternatives for residents who wish to socialize but still stay isolated. 

  • Advise anyone who enters the facility to monitor themselves for signs of COVID-19 infection for 14 days after contact.

  • Communicate all updates and announcement through multiple channels.

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

 See www.sovereignharbourgazette.org.uk

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Storage Heater Grants for Pensioners from Government's Affordable Warmth  ECO Scheme

The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) is a UK government energy efficiency scheme to help reduce carbon emissions and help tackle fuel poverty. It began in April 2013 and over time has been amended. The latest policy, EC03, commenced on 3 December 2018. A summary of the changes made can be seen on the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy's website.

The scheme provides Government ECO funding for low income households to apply for an ECO grant.  And if successful to get installed at no or moderate cost high heat retention storage heaters such as those made by Dimplex and Elnur. To qualify, applicants must:

  • Be a home owner, which includes ownership of a long lease on a flat

  • Be in receipt of at least one of certain state benefits such as Guaranteed Pension Credit, Working Tax Credit, Disability Living Allowance at the Higher Rate or PIP equivalent, Carer's Allowance.

  • Any storage heaters currently installed in the home must be faulty at the time of the preliminary free ECO survey and the homeowners must be able to give proof of residence, ownership, council tax payments and utility company. 

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Travel Insurance for elderly medical-challenged: too-high priced or no longer available

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. 

In future comments, we will show what  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.

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UK energy costs for consumers are sky-high compared to elsewhere

household gasThe cost of electricity, averaging 18p per kilowatt hour plus a standing charge (surcharge), is outrageous compared to the USA's, Canada's and the EU's overall national average of US$0.11 cents per kilowatt hour. 

There, consumers do not have to change their electricity supplier every year, as many need to do here in the UK, to get the best deal. 

We should not have to shop around every year to get the best deal. Our energy suppliers should be required by law to tell their customers what the best deals are for their rate of consumption.

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Winter Fuel Allowance (WFA) 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, local government council taxes, Members of Parliament salaries, fuel bills, water rates, council taxes, food and all other basics and essentials have all increased by at least 50% since 2008, way beyond the pitiful rise of merely £50 a year in 2008 with nothing more since that time.More older people now face tough choices

Fuel 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.

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By this same author

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Authored, researched, compiled and website-managed by Keith A. Forbes.
Email editor@sovereignharbourgazette.org.uk. Multi-national © 2021. All Rights Reserved. Last updated: 6 May 2021