NPC have launched our new Manifesto, for the 2021 Senedd Elections. We set out what action we would like to see on many issues affecting older people in Wales, including the NHS and social care, recovery from Covid-19, fuel poverty, housing, and the environment, and digital inclusion. You can view it in English and in Welsh.
Cysylltiadau i Bawb / Connections For All
NPC Wales are launching a new campaign around digital inclusion and exclusion on 9th February, Safer Internet Day. The campaign will run for a whole year, and we are launching it with an exciting webinar organised alongside Age Cymru and Digital Communities Wales.
Take a look at our Campaigns page to find out more about the webinar, and read our first online resource.
January's Full Council Meeting
We were very pleased to welcome fifteen people to our first Full Council meeting of the year. We had interesting discussions about the new Wales Transport Strategy Consultation, our work around digital inclusion and exclusion, racism in healthcare, and other topics important to our members. If you'd like to attend our next meeting please contact us.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been judged safe for use in UK
We have been greatly encouraged by this news, and we hope that we could see a return to near normal as soon as next spring. Thank you to all the teams that have been working on the vaccines. NPC Wales is aware that there are some concerns about the new vaccines, but we want to reassure our members and friends that any vaccine they receive will be safe and effective.
We have put together a short information sheet which seeks to reassure and inform our members and friends. You can download and read it here in Word format. Do share our leaflet with your family and friends. Please make sure you get vaccinated so that when we can all get back together again, no-one will be missing.
Vaughan Gething the Welsh Minister for Health & Social Services has issued a ministerial statement: Covid-19 New Testing Technology Developments
NPC Wales welcomes that statement and in particular: Provided these tests can be brought forward successfully, I have asked officials to work with the social care sector to consider ways in which tests could be deployed to advance the current pilots on mobile health and social care professionals who travel between people’s homes and support visits by family and friends in the care home sector.
NPC Wales has always recognised that until a vaccine is available hygiene measures and social distancing with Testing, Tracing & Isolation is the only way to help contain the spread of the virus. That is especially the case for older people.
Health policy is devolved, and there is robust public health system in Wales with significant expertise in contact tracing: The NHS Wales Test, Trace, and Protect Service, including Public Health Wales (PHW), local health boards and local authorities.
Welsh laboratories are now providing results with 91% of hospital tests done at Public Health Wales (PHW) labs returned within 24 hours.
NPC Wales welcomes the progress that has been made in developing effective testing, tracing and isolation.
NPC Wales will continue to meet with Welsh Government and the Older People’s Commissioner to ensure that older people’s voices are heard as we move out of the “circuit breaker”.
NPC Campaign Keep the TV Licence free for the over 75s
Sadly the BBC announced they will go ahead with their plans to make people over 75 who aren’t on Pension Credit pay for their TV licences from 1st August. The UK Government has refused to intervene.
Here, NPC Wales is concerned at the problem of TV licence scammers who are popping up all over the place.
NPC Wales supports the Age Cymru campaign warning about scammers and has advised its members groups accordingly.
In support of the NPC UK campaign we made some videos for the main NPC Wales Facebook page and quite a few “shorties” with members tearing up their “TV licences”. We also wrote to all 40 Members of Parliament for Wales and all 60 Members of the Welsh Parliament. The responses from MPs were limited with 4 responses in support. We know that the Labour Party, SNP, Plaid Cymru, the Liberal Democrats and the Northern Ireland Parties support the campaign
There was very little support for Early Day Motion (EDM) 747 tabled on 20th July:
That this House supports the urgent reversal of the decision to make over-75s pay for TV licences during the covid-19 outbreak; notes with concern that licenses will have to be paid for from August 2020; believes that responsibility for funding free TV licences should not have been handed over by the Government to the BBC; highlights that loneliness amongst the over 75s has worsened as a result of the covid-19 outbreak; further highlights that stripping the over-75s of their free TV licenses will exacerbate loneliness; and calls on the Government to reconsider the issue as a matter of urgency.
The EDM required 6 sponsors - those there were three Labour, two Liberal Democrats and one Democratic Unionist. Only 10 other MPs signed up in support - four Labour, one SNP, three Plaid Cymru, one Green and one Northern Ireland Alliance. That compares with EDM 2049 on the same subject tabled in Feb 2019 by Jeremy Corbyn MP which attracted 140 signatures.
From Members of the Welsh Parliament, there was no response from the Welsh Conservatives, Welsh Lberal Democrats, the Welsh National Party, the Brexit Party or the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party. The UKIP MSP expressed support in a long email response which was mostly attacking the BBC.
The Plaid Cymru Group of MSPs and the Welsh Labour Group of MSPs confirmed their full support.
Welsh Government provided support via the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism in a letter of support but pointing out that the BBC service is not devolved: "We continue to remind Ofcom of its obligation to hold the BBC to its Charter commitment to make provision for the UK’s nations, and we will continue to monitor developments within the broadcasting sector in Wales."
We welcome the news today that The BBC will meet with the National Pensioners Convention UK to better understand issues around a raft of concerns affecting the UK’s oldest and most vulnerable.
NPC UK will continue to brief the BBC on our views on the state pension, universal entitlements, the threshold for pension credit and diversity and inclusion.
The BBC has also agreed to discuss the impact of loneliness, isolation and increasing ageism with the NPC UK, the UK’s largest campaigning organisation run for and by older people.
The news follows an initial meeting between BBC Director General Tim Davie, BBC Director, Policy Clare Sumner, and NPC General Secretary Jan Shortt, who made a case for reinstatement of free TV licences for all over 75s, while outlining the financial hardships many currently face.
Jan Shortt commented, “The meeting with the BBC was robust on both sides – there are still approximately 1.4 million over 75s who have not paid their licence, because they are perhaps financially struggling to do so. However, we welcome the BBC’s willingness to continue a dialogue with us, particularly on the poverty, isolation and loneliness faced by so many older people.”
As of this week TV Licensing have started sending letters to anyone aged over 75 asking them to either pay for their TV licence or apply for a free one. The letter TV Licensing sends will include your licence number, your title and your last name and they will only ask you to pay using the following options:
- By post using the address TV Licensing, PO Box 578, Darlington DL98 1AN
- Online at tvl.co.uk/75pay or tvl.co.uk/75apply
- Over the phone on 0300 790 6151
If you are contacted and asked to pay for your TV licence using a different phone number, a different website or by posting your details to a different address, this is a scam.
TV Licensing will not come to your doorstep to collect the licence fee if you are over 75, so anyone who claims to do so is also a scammer.
If you’re unsure about anything, you can call TV Licensing on 0300 303 9695 to speak with someone who can help.
Covid 19 Survey
NPC Wales worked with Cymru Older Peoples Alliance (COPA), the Welsh Senate for Older People, Pensioners Forum Wales, Active Wales and Age Cymru to develop a survey to collect the experiences of people aged 50 or over during the lockdown.
Age Cymru has now released a report which analyses the response to the survey, and can be accessed here.
You can find more coverage, including a case study, on the BBC here.
NPC Wales has to express concern that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) examination of the costs of Funeral Care has been dragging on since May 2018. Now because of the Covid crisis the CMA has issued an inadequate provisional report with a deadline of 10th September for a response. We are working with NPC National to ensure that a coherent and robust response is made.
Public Transport 2020
For the elderly and most vulnerable groups in society, public transport is key to addressing loneliness and social exclusion. Yet funding for supported buses has been reduced in the last ten years, leaving many rural and some urban areas without public transport. Older people may be reluctant to use public transport in the current situation. Older people who no longer drive often rely on Taxis or Private Hire vehicles but again in the current situation may be nervous or unwilling to use that mode of transport.
National Pensioners Convention Wales is carrying out a survey to support its campaign for improved public transport in Wales.
NPC Wales believes that public transport is essential for older people to live independently in their communities.
The survey will take approximately 10 minutes to complete and your responses will be confidential. Please do share with your family and friends. Contact us if you need a paper copy of the survey. We'd love to have a wide range of responses, so get in touch if there is anything we could provide to make the survey more accessible to you.