FACE-TO-FACE APPOINTMENTS WITH GPs
The pandemic has been used to make major changes in the way NHS services are being delivered locally. Many people are finding it difficult, sometimes impossible, to see their GP and are being fobbed off with other practice staff or remote consultations. Silver Voices is campaigning to stop the link between patient and doctor being broken permanently, on grounds of patient safety. Sign and share our petition on the official government website to embed the absolute right of patients to a face-to-face appointment with a GP.
SOCIAL CARE CRISIS
Silver Voices members have had enough of broken promises on the reform of social care. Up to 2 million older people across the UK are not receiving the social care support they need and they are struggling to survive in their own homes. Our members have therefore resolved to support older people who decide to withhold their council tax payments (rates in Northern Ireland) if their social care needs have not been met by their local authority or trust.
FREE TV LICENCES/ GUM UP THE WORKS CAMPAIGN
From 1 August 2020, Silver Voices launched a campaign of direct action to ‘gum up the works’ of TV Licensing to force the BBC and Government to find ways to reinstate the free TV licence for the over 75s. The plan is for all over 60s to complicate and delay payments of the fees to ensure collection and enforcement become unworkable.
STOP PRESS: Nine out of ten of our over 75s members have voted to support a national TV licence fee strike in protest at the scrapping of their right to a free TV licence. Silver Voices will support and advise all senior citizens who have decided to withhold their licence fee. The immediate objective of the action is to persuade the Government and the BBC to stop blaming each other and discuss ways to restore free licences as soon as possible.
Action for all 60-74-year olds from Saturday 1 August:
1 If you pay your licence by annual, quarterly or monthly direct debits, stop them and write to TV Licensing (TV Licensing, Darlington,DL98 1TL) stating that you are stopping your direct debit in protest at the scrapping of free licences for the over 75s; and that in future you will only settle licence matters by cheque/postal order and by post, rather than online.
When you eventually get a letter from TV Licensing, demand that you should be able to pay monthly by cheque (at the moment, you can only pay monthly by direct debit which is clearly age discriminatory). Appeal when they refuse.
When you eventually come to pay your licence by cheque, use creative individual ways to complicate payments further. Some members have suggested writing cheques in their preferred language and not checking date or signature as carefully as normal.
If you can’t afford to pay the full licence fee by cheque, then you could reinstate your direct debit, but cancel it again after one monthly payment and repeat the process!
In all correspondence with TV Licensing make sure you include your address and current licence number so that it is clear that you are not refusing to pay, merely querying the means for doing so.
2 If you pay your licence fee annually by credit card or bank transfer then wait until you get your renewal notice and then follow all the steps above.
3 If you pay your licence by TV Licensing Payment Card, then some have suggested that you might forget to make a payment and wait for a reminder letter to be sent to you.
Action for all over 75-year olds from Saturday 1 August
We know that many over 75s will refuse to make any payment on principle, in protest at the loss of this benefit. We support this stand on moral grounds, but Silver Voices is not asking you to take illegal action. This is why we are asking all older people to take solidarity action with you.
The BBC has issued an official notice to say that you do not have to do anything until you receive an official letter from TV Licensing and have agreed a payment plan with them. The terms of your current licence are automatically extended until this happens, but will be cancelled “if you do not reply to our letter within two months of receiving it”. TV Licensing is in a state of chaos already over implementing this policy and as at the beginning of October these letters were still going out!
When you eventually receive your letter from TV Licensing, follow all the steps for 60-74-year olds in paragraph 1 above. In addition, you may wish to appeal for a free licence even though you are not eligible for pension credit, on the grounds of your personal circumstances (e.g. paying for social care or on health grounds).
If you receive pension credit, then please do apply for exemption on those grounds.
EXTEND SHIELDING SUPPORT/ FACE MASKS
Silver Voices campaigned for shielding support for “extremely vulnerable” people to be extended and for face masks to be made compulsory wherever social distancing is difficult. Originally we were a lone voice but eventually good sense prevailed on Covid-19 safeguards
PENSION CREDIT CAMPAIGN
Silver Voices is supporting the Independent Age campaign to end the low take-up of pension credit. Only 60% of those entitled to pension credit actually receive it and £3.5 billion is returned to the Treasury each year. We are calling on the Government to publish an action plan to ensure that every older person eligible for the benefit receives it.
We are campaigning against the excessive costs of funerals which are now a national disgrace, with funeral directors taking advantage of people when they at their most vulnerable. We have influenced the current investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority.
FREE PERSONAL CARE CAMPAIGN
Silver Voices is strongly supporting the campaign of Independent Age for free personal care for all, on the same basis as medical care under the NHS. In the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis we will be arguing for huge extra resource commitments to remedy a collapsing social care system and a dysfunctional market.