Sunday, 14 October 2018

Britain is less and less a country for old men seeking 'senior concessions' to cultural attractions

Large numbers of old people in Britain enjoy cultural visits and more than three-quarters of museums, galleries and other attractions are giving £65m of ticket-price concessions to over 60 year olds every year. They are offered them as 'seniors' regardless of their ability to pay and even when they are below the state pension age. This is illustrated by the pricing structures (on the right) of the most popular sites.

Among leading attractions, only four : Chester Zoo, Stonehenge, Canterbury Cathedral and Bristol Zoo Gardens, have raised the ticket-price concession threshold in line with the state pension age of 65.

Old men and women of Britain Beware ! Moves are afoot to end your concessions.

Chloe Wall of the 'Intergenerational Foundation', who has co-written a report entitled 'Baby-boomer Concessions : How ticket prices for a wealthier generation reinforce unfairness'  has said : 'In the past, concessions were used to help poorer older people to be able to afford to participate in society’s cultural life, but our findings show that these are increasingly bungs to wealthy baby boomers.'

Two attractions in Cornwall where senior concessions have been axed are the National Maritime Museum Cornwall and The Lost Gardens of Heligan.

Richard Doughty, Director of the Maritime Museum said that revenues had increased by 40% since the rates were changed three years ago and the Museum simultaneously offered better concessions for children by extending the age range for junior tickets to 18. He said that there had been some negative reactions : “We’ve seen a fall-off in gift aid. They feel if they’re not going to get a concession they will penalise us by not giving us gift aid.” By 'they' he means 'old people.'

James Stephens, a member of the marketing team for the Gardens, acknowledged that there had been some angry emails but said that the abandonment of the £2 discount for pensioners had allowed them to freeze the ticket price for adults at £14.50 and introduce concessions for students. He said that senior concessions were a hangover from the Sixties but many organisations were realising that older people were relatively resistant to price changes.
One old visitor to the Gardens of Heligan posted a two-star review two weeks ago because of frustration with the price and loss of the "hangover" : 'Perhaps the ticket seller might want to learn how much the basic pension is.'

Last year it was announced that the proportion of single pensioners relying solely on State hits highest level in over 20 years and the number of single pensioners who rely completely on the State for financial support has increased by 26% to 1.1 million over the last five years. In addition, 330,000 pensioner couples are also completely dependent on the State Pension, income related benefits and disability benefits for their income.

The full State Pension for 2018-19 stands at £164.35 per week

Caroline Abrahams, the Charity Director of 'Age UK' has said that the removal of concessions could be damaging for the ability of old people to lead a full life : “There is a bit of an urban myth going around that our older population is universally well off, but this is far from the reality for millions of older people today who are managing on a tight budget. For them, a cut-price ticket to an attraction may make all the difference between being able to go or not, so we hope operators will bear this in mind when deciding their pricing structures.”

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