As the pace of change quickens, older generations are left behind

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Does the modern world discriminate against the elderly, asks Bob Britnell (stock image).

I was talking to one of my sons this week, although he might have described it as moaning, hopefully not as whinging.

We hear from time to time how we, the post-war Baby Boomer generation, have somehow stolen the future of the millennials, or whatever other name younger people go by these days, I really can’t keep up…

Yes we might live in houses worth half a million quid, but it’s not as if we can move without spending that half a million on a new house.

Money locked up in bricks and mortar is not real money, not unless you intend to move out of the south-east, and we’re probably too old to consider that seriously.

No, where discrimination exists these days is against older people. Why is it that we always have to adjust to some new system designed for the younger generation?

My beef started when Canterbury City Council altered its website a little while ago when all of a sudden it became less user friendly. My initial inclination was that it had been dumbed down for people who couldn’t understand words and needed icons – the younger generation, in other words.

After my initial shock and some serious thought I realised that the change was actually to accommodate those who didn’t use a desktop/laptop computer but did their computing on their mobile phones.

Now maybe it’s a good thing to enable easy access to the council website for people without real computers but doing that makes it more difficult for existing users who are using real computers.

It’s the same with banking. Now I must admit I wouldn’t be without internet banking given that it’s so easy. I’m sure I set up telephone banking once, but for the life of me I can’t remember what security questions or answers I chose. But not everyone has a computer and can access their account on-line, not everyone can be on the ball with telephone banking.

And now they’re suggesting you can do your banking on your mobile phone, just download the app, but I don’t use a smartphone, and I don’t want to. My mobile makes and receives calls and text messages, that’s all I want it to do, I don’t want to bank on the go!

Just to round it off I took a trip down memory lane, feel free to join me. Do you remember listening to Radio Luxembourg under the bedcovers, (blankets, no duvets then), at night on your transistor radio?

Then we got pirate radio and you were either a Caroline or London fan – until the Labour government shut them down, claiming they interfered with the “emergency services”. What tosh. They were just outside Government control!

Then they gave us Radio 1, mostly deejayed by ex pirate disc jockeys, as we called them in those days. Of course, we grew older and a new generation came along so we were moved to Radio 2, but we didn’t much care as we could still hear our djs pumping out our music, and we expanded our taste to take in the ‘70s and even the ‘80s, (well some of it).

Then, as with everything else, even younger generations came along. Now logic would suggest that we were then moved to Radio 3 and even eventually Radio 4 with them relocating to Radios 5 and 6.

But by then the youth revolution that we had started swung against us, we were now the reactionary oldies who ought to step aside, or possibly shuffle off and so they kept us on Radio 2 along with several generations after us with appalling tastes in music.

As my son pointed out, this process is inexorable, it has always happened, what has changed is the speed at which it is happening, changes that took years and gave time to adjust now take months, or weeks even, which leaves those of us a bit older floundering to keep up and by the time we have caught up, things have moved on again.

He did suggest that there were Radio stations out there which catered to my musical tastes, but I pointed out that I couldn’t stand the adverts. He countered by pointing out that the BBC is full of adverts for itself, which it is, and that younger people learned to mentally screen the advertising out, would that us older ones could do that, but it’s words, words catch our attention.

It doesn’t have to be like this. I’m not asking that we be treated like respected elders who know best, although we do and it would be nice sometimes. I’m only asking that when things are updated the existing users or listeners are not just cast aside as unimportant, we’re still there and we still matter, and we’re living longer than we used to.

At the end of the day us oldies are the victims of discrimination just as much as any other group, but we don’t bang on about it.

We just get on with life and bitch and moan to each other as we know no one else is listening.

2 COMMENTS

  1. As someone in a similar age category as Bob, I cannot support his claim that older people are having a hard time. When I,and probably he, first bought houses, they were about 4-5 times average annual salary. Now they are about 8-10 times average annual salary. From 1945 to the early 1960’s governments…..and yes Tory ones from 1951…. had the power to compulsorily purchase building land at or near the agricultural price.

    Legislation changed to make that impossible and NO party has tried to reverse it to ensure that first time buyers are not paying landowners, about £100,000 for a mean little plot of land with a mean house on it having a total price of about £300,000 if they are lucky. The landowner ,unlike a developer, has shown no enterprise, taken no risk, but just been lucky with getting a Planning consent

    House prices in our District increased by 27% in the period 2014-2018…so imagine the disappointment of trying to save up for a deposit with that going on.Home owners effectively get tax breaks and numerous other benefits compared to tenants. That is one of the biggest sources of inequality.

    If Bob or I decide to downsize there will be a good cash margin to pocket tax free. If we decide to stay put there is equity release which will hand us a large cash sum with only our own heirs losing out.

    Now we all live longer, pensions give a far better deal than they did as recently as the 1950’s when the expected years,especially for males, of pension receipt was an average of ten. Now it is about twenty five. So we get far more back and use the NHS for longer but pay no National Insurance contributions. We really should, if we persist in living that long and not put the NHS burden only on those younger taxpayers.

    Please Bob, get an iphone so you can read this on the move. How about all of us who don’t need the ridiculous Winter Fuel Allowance, I imagine that includes him and I, donating it to a charity of our choice?

  2. Well I know Nick and I don’t share politics in common but there a some things we do agree on, as a Tory it hurts me to suggest that there is much to be said for “Development Land Tax”, remember that Nick? Of course what happened was that the ,market froze up as land didn’t come forward for development. Now we have cumbersome CIL arrangements at local levels, that’s Community Infrastructure levy for those not in the planning arena, its meant to allow local authorities to levy a charge on new housing to pay for infrastructure improvements but its a disincentive to build, especially for small builders.

    As to the winter fuel allowance, I agree, why give it to everyone irrespective and when my wife reaches a qualifying age it will be divided between us …… madness, how much does that cost to administer? Why not just add the money to the state pension and save the administration costs?

    And for those like Nick and I who are still working post 65, although I’m not certain Nick has got there yet, what about National Insurance on our earned incomes; we pay none on our pensions but post 65 you pay none on your earnings, why not?

    Well we saw why not when the Government suggested something like it; it needs cross party support not to be used like a political football, sadly with the opposition we have in Parliament who are just desperate to get into power, nothing controversial can be done …… and that’s why the NHs will not get reformed either.

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