Pensioners concerns

Only on this website, not on any estate agent or council or community 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 averaging 265 a year in 2018 in addition to council taxes, property insurance, management fees and ground rents. In no other flood area or harbour or marina area or private estate anywhere else in Britain, the UK, Europe or the world does this apply. A much wider flood zone area than just Sovereign Harbour is involved, affecting  more than 17,000 homes, yet the Sovereign Harbour Trust, owned by The Wellcome Trust makes only the 4,300 Sovereign Harbour residents and their successors pay it, to the Environment Agency, not businesses including managing agents and property developers. As Members of Parliament and Eastbourne Borough and East Sussex County councillors have refused to help right this wrong applicable uniquely and solely to Sovereign Harbour residents, the matter has now been referred to overseas agencies . 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 2018. It is the only such water feature in the world that applies such a charge to properties overlooking it.

Pensioners Concerns about Sovereign Harbour as a worry-free place to live

Instead of saving money from downsizing they will incur extra annual costs from covenants found nowhere else world-wide

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Pensioners Concerns Property Guidelines Sovereign Ward  

By Keith A. Forbes at keithforbes01@btinternet.com. 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.

Pensioners Concerns about the Sovereign Harbour area and beyond 

This website page is entirely non-political. Sole concerns are the hopes, plights and rights of pensioners.  We show their major concerns locally, regionally and nationally. Unfortunately, the Beware of Estate Rental Charge, Council Tax Injustices, Cyclists using Walkways as cycle paths, Disability Laws Compared and Social Care System Unfairness are not shown on other local websites supported by the local council focusing on the elderly of Eastbourne.

 Accessibility on trains 

Not improving, poor by international standards

train

Older/disabled people have become concerned about using trains. Ours are the most expensive, slowest and often most-crowded in the world. Changes to remove guards from trains who helped the elderly and disabled led to strikes for over a year. A guard on each train is essential for general duties in the event of an emergency and particularly to assist the elderly and disabled when required, but this is ending. There are other concerns. Beyond the UK it is now a legal requirement that seniors and disabled are assisted by platform staff to get on and off trains and into the heart of the station. Often, the disabled who ask for such help beforehand find that despite arranging assistance in advance and being assured it will be offered, often no one is available to help the disabled get off the train with its wide gap between the train and platform and/or assist with luggage. It infuriates the disabled and elderly when those not qualified to sit in seats clearly marked for the elderly or disabled or heavily pregnant cannot sit there because passengers who are young, fit and able ignore the signs and occupy those seats, with no  protecting legislation. This happens every day.

Attendance Allowance

It must not pass to local authorities, for reasons shown below

 The Attendance Allowance must not be passed to local authorities. We should object strongly to them get more powers when their services cost us 5% or more every year yet we now now get less and less in overall value from the many facilities they are cutting such as libraries, health centres, financial  support of charities that support older people and more, while at the same time they spend millions of pounds on enhanced tennis or sports arenas or retail shopping centres that not all of us are mobile or able enough to use as elderly people. When more and more services are being de-centralized it does not make sense for us to have have to pay in our taxes the huge costs involved in having and maintaining a national centralized Parliament in London, especially now when almost the entire House of Parliament needs a major facelift. The central government must stop wanting councils, not MPs collectively, to assume more and more responsibilities traditionally dealt with by MPs. We need more centralization, more more nationwide uniformity of councils' policies and practices in every area, not further dismaying devolution that has already so fractured this country.

Attempts to discontinue Free TV for over 75s

seniors 02

The BBC plans to end or modify or means-test free-to-over 75s TV licence and is now attempting to implement this when it takes over TV Licensing from the government in 2019. 

In no other part of the world do people over pension age have to pay a TV tax. People in Canada and USA are aghast that we are taxed to watch TV until we are 75. Elsewhere, in Canada, Australia, etc, the USA's Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and equivalents elsewhere are free, with donations purely voluntary. All attempts to eliminate the free TV licence for the over 75s should be squashed. Unfortunately for all over 75s who presently qualify for free TV, the UK government will soon be requiring the BBC, not the government, to collect TV licenses. The world needs to know that even when viewers do not watch any BBC television programs they still have to pay for BBC services. Other TV channels do not receive a penny of the TV Licence fee, only the BBC gets it, so should not under any circumstances be also the regulatory authority to demand it. The BBC should not be allowed to have its own television advertising, as it now does extensively both in the UK but also in the USA on all its channels, and yet be the only broadcaster to receive public income on the basis of being free of commercial advertising. 

Beware of Sovereign Harbour's 270 a year Annual Estate Rent Charge

 See www.sovereignharbourgazette.org.uk/Estaterentcharge.htm.

Sovereign Harbour propertiesSo say numerous estate agents. It applies nowhere else in the UK, Europe or the world, yet our Lib Dem MP and Conservative councillors will not help to get it revoked

Pensioners who seek to move to Sovereign Harbour and at the same time need or want to downsize not just in terms of size of a house or flat but also in recurring annual or monthly expenses such as council tax and other overheads, should beware of the unique annual Estate Rent Charge applicable in Sovereign Harbour, East Sussex. Why? Because, as shown in the website above, a number of law offices of repute warn you to beware of investing in a place with so many covenants and other restrictions.  In Sovereign Harbour alone, nowhere else in the UK or Europe or the world, all freehold and leased homes or flats, whether whether worth 180,000 or 800,000, will cost you and those who later buy your property a covenanted Estate Rent Charge of 270 in 2018,  increasable annually by the rate of inflation.

 Plus, Council Tax, even for a modest 2-bedroom flat, will also be much higher than equivalently-priced properties elsewhere in Eastbourne or beyond.

 What makes it so additionally unfair is that only the 2,700 or so Sovereign Harbour residents pay this flood charge, not the 14.000 residents also in the same flood area east of the harbour. And, if you plan on living in a certain part of Sovereign Harbour South, you will have to pay a further covenanted annual Water Feature charge of a type that exists nowhere else. And although all developments are private including the pathways and walkways, the public are free to roam anywhere, with their dogs and cycles, completely without charge, with only the residents having to pay.  

Only when this Annual Estate Rentcharge is revoked will Sovereign Harbour be a much less expensive place in which to live. Until then, pensioners need to know that Sovereign Harbour requires you to pay appreciably more in overheads not found anywhere else in the UK. Even when other the few other places have an Estate Rent Charge, it is only nominal, 10 or so a year, not Sovereign Harbour's outrageous 270 a year. Our present Member of Parliament has not acted to help right this wrong, has not called for repeal of applicable legislation and covenants that exist nowhere else. The local community group which says it represents residents has never tried to take this case to Members of the European Parliament and beyond. We understand some residents are now making a formal complaint to European, North American and other authorities. Some also want the injustice and world uniqueness of the Estate Rent Charge to be brought to the attention of the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex and President Trump of the USA before he visits the UK. 

A formal complaint about the injustice and unfairness of the Annual Estate Rentcharge was also made in September/October 2018 to the Government's Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, House of Commons, London SW1A GAA. Email hclgcom@parliament.uk. Its members are Edward Beale, Clerk, email bealee@parliament.uk; Jenny Burch, Second Clerk, email burchj@parliament; Tamsin Maddock, Committee Specialist, at maddockt@parliament.uk; Nick Taylor, Committee Specialist, email taylornc@parliament.uk; Tony Catinella, Senior Committee Assistant, email catinellat@parliament.uk and Eldon Gallagher, Committee Support Assistant, at gallaghe@parliament.uk

We are also referring this to the National Pensioners Convention (NPC)

Cyclists use Sovereign Harbour walkways instead of 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 neighborhood panel, or the police, act. They must take action to stop this before elderly or disabled or deaf walkers get hurt by a cyclist.

Campaign to Save Our Buses is continuing

Many bus routes are being cut or eliminated.

Efforts continue to press the national  government and councils to stop reducing or eliminating bus routes, one of the victims of ever-increasing council budget cuts despite the constant upward creep of council taxes. See the website at www.bettertransport.org.uk. Our own hourly bus service that once routinely went to Eastbourne General Hospital - so frequently used by pensioners and the disabled but no longer does so -  is a case in point. 

Cap on Energy Charges coming

household gas

Welcome news to pensioners paying the standard tariffs. 

Domestic Gas and Electricity (Tariff Cap) enacted. Pensioners are the biggest single group paying standard tariffs (which have risen appreciably in cost in recent years). Those who pay them instead of annual less expensive fixed-rates will no longer, from 2019, get their costs hiked at the whim of energy suppliers. Changes will benefit all pensioners on standard tariffs who hitherto have been paying more to help subsidize younger people who get cheaper off-peak night charges.

Council Tax Injustices go on and on

Council Taxes are described by leading newspapers as Britain's most hated taxes for nation-wide unfairness.  Pensioners needing or wishing to downsize are particularly affected.

newspapers

As one sample  of a newspaper's international condemnation see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10431722/Britons-pay-the-highest-property-taxes-in-the-developed-world.html published in June 2016. Massive inequities since 1991 have been consistently ignored by all British Members of Parliament. They have never changed the system with its massively unfair practices in 27 years.  Other countries are required by law to re-assess their property taxes every 3-5 years  The UK's present system of council taxes at the highest Band H  for the most expensive central London properties but much higher council taxes for much lower-priced properties at Band E in Eastbourne and elsewhere in the country is manifestly unjust. There has to be a council (property) tax on every property. But it has to be balanced, fair, equitable, logical and consistent. It should be a reliable indicator of the fair market value of a property including the house or flat or cottage or bungalow, land on which it sits, what outbuildings or garages there are. It should not matter for evaluation purposes whether the property is a house or flat or cottage or bungalow, exactly the same criteria should apply, instead of it being so discriminatory as it is now. 

What should matter are the actual or accurately assessed market price, a legislative methodology to ensure the entire valuation system is reviewed regularly at least every five years, the assessment is open enough to ensure that every property bought and or sold routinely shows both its market price and its council or property tax on property particulars and by doing so avoid any accusation of discrimination, with the valuation of every property open for public inspection to achieve complete transparency. It should not be just a single isolated local authority tax but one mindful of and comparable with council taxes in other areas. It should have enough council tax banding width to easily ensure that unless a property is equal in total value to Buckingham Palace it should be council taxed at merely a fraction of the latter's council tax. 

And if/when market prices fall instead of going up, the property tax should also fall. Unfortunately, no such fair, decent, consistent, regularly updated methodology applies to Council Taxes in Eastbourne. Instead, the Eastbourne Borough Council at www.eastbourne.gov.uk, and its East Sussex Council partner, with the approval of the British Government and all its 650 legislators, applies such a massively unfair council tax system that even small modest two bedroom flats with a market value of under 270,000 and no property-owned land at all pay appreciably more Council Tax than (a) other local properties with an often far higher market value and (b) 775-room Buckingham Palace in London, 90 miles away, worth about 980 million and other multi-million pound properties and their personal gardens in the most affluent areas of London. As the latest examples of (a) in January 2018 a spacious penthouse 3 bedroom apartment in the affluent area of Silverdale Road, Lower Meads, Eastbourne, was advertised for sale at 385,000 showing Council Tax D but a 2 bedroom upper ground floor apartment on San Diego Way, Sovereign Harbour North, Eastbourne, worth much less, 260,000, has to pay a higher tax, in Council Tax Band E.

Disability laws compared to Europe, Canada, USA, etc.

Disability seating

UK disability laws need updating and improving to match disability laws elsewhere. Eastbourne and Brighton both in East Sussex are the two most disabled-unfriendly places in the entire UK. Disabled visiting Americans, Australians, Canadians, Europeans, etc shocked by how poor disabled laws and regulations are compared to their home countries.

Yet local disability groups are not demanding legislative changes. There is no comparison with the USA's powerful and effective Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) - see http://www.ada.gov or similar in Europe, Canada and beyond. (In Canada see http://www.ccdonline.ca/en/socialpolicy/fda/1006). The lack of UK legislative teeth and the unwillingness of the police to act as law enforcement officers in Eastbourne area disability abuses has so infuriated some overseas visitors that they have complained internationally. We hear about them because our Eastbourne & Sovereign Harbour Disability Association at www.sovereignharbourgazette.org.uk/ESHDisability.htm is networked with overseas groups, arising from the fact that several of its members have earlier lived and worked overseas where disability standards are both so much higher and regularly legally enforced. All disabled visitors to the Eastbourne area from anywhere abroad who are long-used to disability provisions in their own countries being protected by law both in the public and private sectors, need to know that similar comprehensive disability laws do not apply here. We state this in our www.sovereignharbourgazette.org.uk/ESHDisability.htm. It needs to be noted that British visitors to those parts of the world who are not disabled but regularly abuse local disability laws because they can get away with it here in the UK are the worst offenders by a huge margin. When we sent emails reporting visitors' complaints in Eastbourne to the Eastbourne access group, instead of being concerned enough to refer them to their councils and legislators in hope of action to remedy defects, all we got were complaints. Hopefully, the UK Parliament, when debating how European Law will be incorporated into UK law prior to Brexit, will EU-wide Disability laws to replace and give some legal teeth to very inferior UK disability provisions.

Labour calls for Pets Charter

Included in Labour's plans if elected at next General Election. 

Pets in leasehold homes

It 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. Labour says it wants to create or strengthen the rights of tenants to keep most smaller types of pets (cats, dogs, birds, etc). Many current leases and rental agreements deny that right completely. Many pensioners in particular have cats or dogs, or fish in tanks or birds in cages as their only full-time companions. But there must be a proviso that pensioners and others are physically able to clean up after their pets, indoors and outdoors, will put their dogs on leashes, will walk them - and pick up dog messes.

Law Commission proposes Leasehold Reform

The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government. New government initiatives to modernize living conditions for the elderly in particular.

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.

Social Care unfairness of Councils

Two seniorsThe 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, from general taxation. In contrast, here in the UK those with total assets including their homes not exceeding 23,500 are given NO local authority funding or support  while others can get up to 100% local authority funding.  Scandinavian and other European countries are appalled by this monstrous injustice. A new type of social care system a combined 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. See http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Health/Policy/Health-Social-Care-Integration and http://isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Health-and-Social-Community-Care/Health-and-Social-Care-Integration/ and https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/integrated-care-northern-ireland-scotland-and-wales. See What it Means in Scotland, at http://www.communitycare.co.uk/2013/05/16/what-integration-with-health-means-for-scotlands-social-workers/ and our own summary about this at www.sovereignharbourgazette.org.uk/Integratedservices.htm.

Travel Insurance for elderly with medical conditions is outrageously priced

More 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 difficulty finding competitively-priced insurance. In future comments we will show what  options 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. What is especially worth noting is that only in the UK do citizens have such a hard expensive time in getting travel insurance. Canadian, American and other travelers can get travel insurance inexpensively. 

Winter Fuel Allowance (WFA) not increased since 2012

A universal age-related benefit not means-tested. it once enabled UK-resident pensioners or those of pension age 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 costs and overall costs-of-living, to quote just three examples,  have collectively risen by at least 5% a year for each year since 2012. The injustice of this by the government should not continue to be overlooked. Fuel poverty affects over 40% of all pensioners. True, there are some who can afford to give the WFA to the NHS as Dame Esther Rantzen has suggested. But most pensioners of moderate means or lower cannot. 

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Keith A. Forbes and Lois A Forbes at editor@sovereignharbourgazette.org.uk  
2018. Revised: December 4, 2018