Category: HPAG in the Ham & High

Protect Character of Libraries in Change

broadway logoRead the article in Broadway Ham and High by Kathryn Dean entitled ‘Protect Character of Libraries in Change’ on page 14  Click Here

 

 

A consultation is being carried out by Haringey Council on a proposed relocation of Muswell Hill Library.

Friends of Muswell Hill Library recommend that residents should strongly agree with the option to stay in the present building and strongly disagree with the proposed relocation.

For a copy of their report as sent to the council two months ago  Click Here   This explains why.

 



How to Stop NHS being dismantled

Our afternoon meeting on October 21st entitled ‘How can we stop the NHS being dismantled?’ was well attended indicating the high level of concern amongst local pensioners that we should conserve and protect our NHS. The speaker was Gay Lee, a practising nurse & campaigner for Keep Our NHS Public (KONP). This is a brief digest; for a full report consult www.hornseypensionersactiongroup.or.uk

Gay reminded us that that Scotland and Wales had retained the old style NHS; but in England the Health & Social Care Bill had made changes to how the NHS was run. She asked us what we thought were the problems currently facing the NHS. We came up with many – the shortage of staff, increased burdens of bureaucratic paper work on staff, delays on discharge from hospital caused by local authority’s shortage of facilities and funding.

Others indicated changes in organisational practice as systemic causes for the problems, one being the system of costing and tariffs, the internal market – that alone absorbs a large proportion of overall funding. Another was the Private Finance Initiatives (PFIs) used to fund many hospital builds, an alternative to public borrowing that would have been cheaper. It is now acknowledged that PFI contracts were a bad deal and many hospitals are suffering crippling debts, causing a massive shortage of beds all across London.

The introduction of the ‘purchaser/provider split’, introduced in 1990, was mentioned. This separated the responsibilities for management and healthcare provision and introduced a form of sub-contracting that many consider has since led to fragmentation and creeping privatisation of services.

The NHS is good because of its skilled staff, yet para-medics, once trained, cannot afford to live in London, leading to a critical shortage. The real value of pay in the NHS has been falling for five years and this year 60% of NHS staff will not get any pay rise at all. This is leading to staff leaving, a heavier work load on those that remain, and a higher dependence on agency nurses. No wonder these loyal workers threaten strike action.

Gay mentioned a new threat. Junior doctors used to receive unsocial hours payment. They and nurses depend upon this extra earnings to survive. Yet the government proposes to abolish this payment.

Gay’s message was to make people aware of the government’s agenda. She quoted Noam Chomsky, who said “That’s the standard technique of privatization: defund, makes sure things don’t work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital’

One of our members not present, had sent a glowing report of the treatment she had received when referred by her doctor to the new Ambulatory Care Centre (Adults) Whittington Health. Her care was prompt, attentive and efficient and she was also given a complimentary lunch box.

Let us keep it that way! Urge MPs to support the ‘Reinstatement of the NHS Bill’ due for a second reading in March 2016, and speak up against any commissioning of services to private companies.

Watch our space for further developments.

by Janet Shapiro



Boring when we’re young, but pensions are really important

Pensions are boring! That is how many of us think when fit, healthy and able to earn a living. But for those feeling the pinch, growing old and getting more frail, pensions are certainly not boring. Pension security should be for all. Remember this for United Nations’ International Day for Older Persons on October 1st.

Let’s scotch the myth that old people are a burden and doing well. Old and young, it is the poor that bear the brunt of austerity measures. A new report produced by the TUC entitled ‘Young versus Old?’ identified reasons for hardship amongst the young; these included increased university tuition fees, unemployment, poorer job opportunities, lower pay and high housing costs. Their falling economic long-term prospects were not down to older people hoarding all the wealth.

Admittedly some pensioners are wealthy; there are wide variations in income within age groups and 6% of over 75s are in the top income bracket – but an equal proportion are amongst the very poorest.

Look at the facts recently highlighted by the National Pensioners Convention (NPC). Should we not be ashamed that the UK state pension is ranked 36th out of 37 OECD countries at £115.95 a week? Compare this with £314.50 for a 40 hour week at the current Living Wage hourly rate (£7.80). Even at the minimum wage rate (£6.70) weekly pay would be £268.00. Could you manage on the current basic state pension?

Low pensions have led to over 6 million living on a yearly income of less than £10,500, 1.9 million below the poverty line. The poorest pensioners tend to be women, single people and the over 80s, many of whom do not get a full pension. In order to bring pensioners out of poverty the NPC is calling for a living state pension of £192 a week, that is £10,000 per year, to give people dignity and financial security in in retirement.

The prospects for future pensioners are bleak; those retiring on the new state pension from April 2016 will work longer and get less. Employment patterns are changing; many do not have secure regular employment, fewer workers can contribute to an occupational pension and the auto-enrolment schemes may not be good value. A good state pension will become even more important in the future. So younger people beware! Get hold of the NPC booklet ‘For what it’s worth: Understanding the new State Pension’.

Hornsey Pensioners Action Group welcome anyone over 50 to our group meetings that combine sociability with serious talk. Come and help us improve the lot of older people.

At our next meeting on October 20th we shall consider how we can stop the dismantling of the NHS. You can find out more about us at www.hornseypensionersactiongroup.org.uk .

by Janet Shapiro



We should fear the demise of the landline call facility

Are the appalling stories of cold calling fraud ruining an important social provision for older people i.e. the landline telephone?

It was important enough for Age UK Haringey to set up a telephone befriending service even though it now takes several messages before pick up. I am sorry I like my landline. 20 minutes of texting a decision for a social event can take 2 when you speak. However when YouGov asked me whether I thought landlines would be in use in 50 years time, I said no.

Why worry you say there are always mobile phones. These are, however, not suitable for someone hard of hearing, with arthritic hands or not able to read small numbers. Anything larger would be too heavy to hold at this moment in technology.

Lets try to improve the situation now. I phone up members of the Hornsey Pensioners Action Group (www.hornseypensioners.org.uk) and wonder why everyone is out.. Please phone back me back not say when we I meet you .“ You phoned!. Yet because friends living alone on basic pensions are reluctant to pay for 1471 or 1571 facilities it can be very difficult to make contact. If I am lucky a nervous little voice answers after a long wait. All telephone companies must make them free. Call displays can now be free if you have such a telephone even though you have to agree an annual contract with a company you have been with for 40 years. But even with displays you can miss the number if slow to pick up. The displays need to be larger and with more detail. At last I realised that the number of the energy company I don’t want to use anymore starts with an 03. Seeing the words International Number displayed I wondered why the fraudsters were phoning so late and put down the receiver on my Icelandic granddaughter trying to wish me Happy Birthday.

Yet the elderly can still defeat the cold callers. My friend Henry was proudly telling a stranger he was 99 but before I could take the receiver firmly stated that he never gave his bank details on the phone. A relative of one of our members took so long to get ready for the taxi the fraudsters provided to take him to the bank, the taxi went away. I enjoy the embarrassment when I tell the callers I am not Mr. Anderson. Its just my “muddy” Londoner voice. The charity to whom I pay an equivalent of £1 week will now lose that for phoning up to ask for more. Despite their effusive thanks.

I do worry though if there is a real government clamp down on cold calling that all those young graduates now working at call centres and helping the employment figures to improve will be redundant.

by Ann Anderson



We love the BBC but latest deal is flawed

Older people notice long term trends and they appreciate national treasures. The BBC is one.

Many live alone, some continuously glued to the radio that keeps them interested and alert. Television provides much needed company for those unable to get out; they look forward to their favourite programmes. These give pleasure and simulate social involvement. But will the quality and choice be maintained if BBC funding is squeezed?

Commercial sponsorship does not guarantee quality programmes. We need only look to the United States to anticipate what we would get without a well-funded independent broadcasting service. For instance, would we welcome frequent mini-adverts interrupting play during tennis matches?

It is not just older people who are concerned. Was the recent deal between Minsters and the BBC director general triggered by the ‘Save the BBC’ Facebook page and the on-line petition put out by 38 Degrees? 29,000 signed against cuts to BBC funding, and 10,000 signed that they stood up for a strong, vibrant, publicly funded BBC, that should not be undermined. Their three claims were to protect the BBC’s funding, to help the BBC develop by putting value for money and quality before commercial interests, and to ensure the BBC’s independence.

The deal, though inadequate, does includes permission to charge broadband users who watch and listen to BBC programmes. If it is practicable to make charges the BBC could recoup lost TV licence revenue. The Charter agreement may allow the licence fee to rise with inflation using the flawed Consumer Price Index (CPI) after 2016.

I would recommend that the licence fee, frozen in 2010 at £145.50, is raised immediately. When you consider that the fee represents less than 40p per day, much less than a newspaper, the freeze was unreasonable and has already led to cuts in BBC funding. A leading drama executive has walked away and 1,000 jobs are at risk.

Older people want the BBC to be better funded, but those over 75 are exempt from paying the fee. As part of the deal the BBC has agreed to bear the cost of this concession, equivalent to one fifth of its budget. We object to that! This concession should be funded through taxation, not at the expense of fellow viewers, further depleting BBC funds.

What is the use of a free TV licence when there is nothing worth hearing on radio or watching on TV? It is like giving rural pensioners a bus pass without providing a bus service!

The deal is flawed and cannot guarantee the maintenance of a good quality broadcasting service. We would argue that the service is public and should receive public support raised from taxation. Don’t let it wither away from lack of funds!

by Janet Shapiro