Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 19th June 2019

Since the 2008 global crash it has become popular to talk about the ‘young’ being hard done-by. I don’t disagree the UK’s younger adult population has seen the services their parents received for free being cut back, house prices mean for many house-sharing is the norm until well into their thirties, job security is gone and even thinking about a pension is on hold while they struggle to make ends, but the idea of inter-generational conflict is mistaken.

While the wealthy were certainly living it up, much of our older adult population never benefited from the ‘good times’ as much as the media claims. Today, the elderly are the most dependent upon healthcare at a time when our NHS has been run down to the point of collapse and are forced to give up whatever they have managed to save to pay for the social care our Conservative Government refuses to provide.

Once again, in the fifth richest economy, we find pensioner poverty on the rise, with one in six of our elderly destitute. At the same time, all the support the last Labour government offered to help end pensioner poverty is being stripped back. In our area, the free bus pass alone is even at threat as Conservative-run West Sussex County Council keeps decreasing the hours it covers. That’s the environment in which we now find the over 75s losing their free TV licenses, something Age UK shows will push 50,000 pensioners below the poverty line.

In Crawley, around 4,280 households are set to lose their free TV license, something the last Labour Government introduced to successfully help to tackle the feelings of loneliness and social isolation overwhelmingly found amongst the elderly. It was accepted that this was something the Government would pay for, the Conservatives even ran on a manifesto promising to maintain them, but then in 2015 they shifted the cost onto the BBC without the funding they knew was necessary to sustain it.

Our generations aren’t in conflict, but from TV licenses to house prices, our Conservative government is getting away with taking away things which matter to each generation.

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