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Not good news in London

Updated: Nov 4, 2020

London is not as fun as it once was and is more costly than before, especially for seniors. Carole Railton (FRSA) writes about some of the problems haunting “seniors” in London.

As a positive person, I much prefer to be the bearer of good news and think well of both people and situations. My optimistic perspective has got me through much that others couldn’t cope with. Perhaps having an unusual childhood made me stronger, who knows. However, I am here now and, unfortunately, the bearer of bad news for those living in the UK capital.

Only a couple of months ago, seniors over 75 lost an ongoing battle and now have to pay for a TV license out of their pension. Before, the license was free for this age group. (This was covered in more depth in a previous blog.) Now, because of the mismanagement of the finances of Transport for London (TfL) Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan has been asked to widen the congestion zone area and stop free travel for pensioners and school children. This is yet another assault on seniors who have one of the lowest pensions in Europe, in one of the most expensive cities in the world. You might have noticed in my previous blog, that I wrote that the chances of selling a house in London was now minimal even though there are hefty price drops in property prices in many areas. The amount of pension everyone at TfL gets is, as stated by one of its employees ‘”disgustingly high”. The employee continues: “It is so much money I do not see how they (TfL) can sustain it”. TfL is claiming the whole system will go bust if it does not get its next lot of £billionsof pounds. Only two weeks ago, it got one bundle of billions but has not completed the arrangements demanded in response to that. If this were a regular company a chairman or managing director would have been sacked for enlarging pensions, increasing the number and salaries of staff in a company that was losing money and for not upgrading their equipment.

In London we are being held to ransom and there is nothing we can do about it. Khan seems to be able to do what he likes and still hold his position of mayor. In the four years he has been in power we have seen an increase in knife crimes. (see We have also seen a drop in the number of services available to Londoners including a shortening of the bus routes. This makes it more cumbersome to get from one place to another by bus, since a number of buses have to be taken.

The government is also demanding higher council tax in London to pay for the shortfall in TfLs accounting, since Khan did not uphold his part of the bargain after the last talks with the government, I already pay a high council tax, if not the highest council tax in the UK. This is devastating news for all us seniors. Not only do we have to pay more council tax, but we have to pay our fares to Central London too. In contrast, employees of TfL have wonderful pay- some only work four days a week- and they also have their own free fares as well as free fares for family and flatmates.

Moreover, TfL employees enjoy sickness and pension plans considerably above average. The government has not asked them to reign in these perks (I don’t know why) although TfL has been told to look at its pension plan. And, of course, if TfL falls, the government, will ensure that me, along with my fellow seniors, will cough up enough to pay TfL employees.

Knowing you will be paying lots more for much less, is an alarming way to go into Christmas. No wonder house prices are going down, especially in the City (where I am) and that bridges across London are not being repaired. The future is full of doom. We can look forward to less money for fewer services, even though many of us have worked all our lives to improve our living conditions and those of following generations.

Photo: by Carole Railton (copyright). Chained in during lockdown

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