The National Trust has been accused of imposing “grossly unfair” price rises on people over 60 after increasing its prices by a third over the last four years.
It has been criticised by pensioner groups for hiding discounted deals and raising prices by almost 10 times the rate of inflation in five years.
Membership for the Trust costs £48 each for the over 60s, which has risen by 32 per cent since 2012.
This is compared to just a 19 per cent increase in the cost of a standard adult membership over the same period.
Dot Gibson, of the National Pensioners Convention, told the Times: “Many older people enjoy spending a day out at a stately home, beautiful garden or historic building – and many more volunteer at these places – so it seems grossly unfair that their loyalty and interest is being rewarded with huge increases in membership fees.
“More than 6.5 million older people have an annual income of less than £11,000, and it would be wrong to see access to these wonderful places as simply for the better-off.”
Read more in the Telegraph
Membership of the National Trust for 2 people over 60 years of age currently costs £96 per year, whereas for The National trust for Scotland Joint Senior Membership (where one is aged 60 years or older) costs just £60 for 2 people.
Scottish Referendum Issues won’t die down
A 74-year-old man is aiming to raise thousands of pounds for charity by travelling from Lands End to John O’Groats – and back again – using his bus pass.
Steve Gibbs, who lives in Little Hill, Wigston, will set off on the 2,000-mile fund-raising trip on August 4, hopping on-and-off 66 different buses and one ferry.
The retired engineer is hoping to raise £5,000 for Children in Need during his two week escapade.
Steve said: “I had a dream that I was going by bus from Lands End to John O’Groats and woke up and told my wife. She said I should just go for it, so here I am.”
He will set off the day after his 40th wedding anniversary, leaving from Land’s End, in Cornwall, at 9.41am, catching the 1A First bus to Penzance, and arriving at 10.37am.
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A NEW yacht that touched water for the first time at Bayview Marina yesterday is up for grabs in a charity raffle.
Christened Amazing Grace, the 34-foot Hanse yacht is valued at $261,900.
Amazing Grace arrives at Bayview Marina .
It will be raffled for charity Sailors With Disabilities at $100 a ticket.
Sailors With Disabilities uses sailing to build confidence and self-esteem of participants with disability while learning the thrill and freedom of sailing in a team.
The raffle is being arranged by Bayview company Windcraft, which previously raffled a yacht for children’s hospice Bear Cottage.
Hanse brand manager Mary Bickle said Amazing Grace was named after sailor Grace Kennedy, who crewed on a yacht in the Sydney To Hobart race despite being confined to a wheelchair.
Age UK has launched an investigation and threatened to suspend a partnership with a mobility company after the Daily Telegraph revealed allegations from pensioners about being subjected to high pressure tactics to sell them overpriced scooters.
Pensioners who contact Age UK asking for advice about which mobility scooter to buy are told to contact Quingo, which pays the charity at least £100,000 a year for the partnership.
However, the firm has been accused of bombarding pensioners in their nineties with calls and attempting to send sales reps to make them buy scooters which are up to £3,000 more expensive than other equivalent brands, according to experts.
The charity said it was investigating the allegations and would “suspend any partnerships” if it found evidence of pressure selling.
The charity says it expects to make £100,000 from the link this year, which is donated by Quingo and based on an anticipated percentage of overall sales.
Great grandfather Vernon Morgan, 92, a former RAF pilot who flew Lancaster bombers in World War Two, said he was called four times in just a few days after Age UK told him to contact the firm.
he Public Safety Charitable Trust plans to appeal this week’s High Court ruling that it cannot claim rate relief for the 1,500 empty commercial buildings it leases around the country.
The charity’s chief executive Mark Ferguson told civilsociety.co.uk today: “I’m not going to roll over. I’ve had the best legal advice possible for the last three years from solicitors, barristers and QCs and all of them have assured me that what we are doing is completely legitimate.”
Meanwhile, charity lawyer Moira Protani has accused the judge in the case of setting a “dangerous precedent” by allowing local authorities to overrule decisions of charity trustee boards.
On Tuesday this week, Mr Justice Sales in the High Court upheld an appeal by three local councils against claims for business rate relief by the Public Safety Charitable Trust (PSCT). The PSCT had been leasing more than 1,500 empty commercial buildings across the country, paying a peppercorn rent and thus allowing its landlords to avoid paying empty business rates on the properties because they were being used for charitable purposes.
The PSCT installed wireless internet transmitters in the buildings, to provide free wi-fi and allow crime reduction charities such as Crimestoppers to broadcast crime prevention messages via Bluetooth. It argued in court that these activities were charitable and so it was entitled to the rate relief.
Our comment: We need some common sense here, does the arrangement the charity has been using seem reasonable? And give local government a chance in the difficult financial situation that exists.
Disability Law Service office in east London: the charity expects a surge in demand for its services this year. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian
2013 looks like being a historic year for disabled people – but for the wrong reasons, says Disability Law Service, one of the Guardian’s eight Christmas appeal charities.
Disability Law Service is on the frontline of welfare reform, providing expert legal advice to disabled clients who face reductions to benefits and their social care support packages as public spending cuts bite.
“Austerity is already hurting the most vulnerable, but in truth the greatest impact is yet to be felt,” says Aydin Djemal, the charity’s director. Local authority cuts will start to kick in after April, hitting social care services and charities that support disabled people. Legal aid funding will be drastically cut back. “We expect to hear more and more cases of disabled people having their basic dignity taken away from them,” says Djemal.
Disability Law Service advises on a range of issues: perhaps a severely disabled person who has had their social care support package reduced from 24-hour care to four hours; or parents who face having their children taken into care by the authorities because they cannot fund the care needed to keep them at home.
David Cameron was last night accused by some of Britain’s biggest charities of abandoning the voluntary sector he championed for his Big Society project. Big Society idea is dead, says charities chief.
The Big Society has been one of David Cameron’s main ideas during his term as Prime Minister. In a leaked letter to the Prime Minister, the heads of the country’s biggest charities complained that work had been hit after local councils slashed funding.
They also criticised the decision to be left out of policy consultations and called on Mr Cameron and Nick Clegg to spell out a new commitment to charities as part of their mid-term review of the Government’s progress, due today.
The letter, written by Sir Stephen Bubb, head of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations, which represents 2,000 charities, said the Big Society idea was “effectively dead”.
He said: “As Prime Minister you described building a Big Society as your ‘great passion’ and ‘central to my vision for our country’.
“You spoke eloquently of your desire to reform public services, with a significantly greater role for charities.”
Charities fall foul of public spending cutbacks and falling donations
The UK’s flatlining economy is having a devastating effect on charities, according to research that suggests that two out of five face closure, with many set to disappear as early as next year unless things improve.
A poll commissioned by the Charities Aid Foundation confirms that public spending cutbacks and falling donations are conspiring to devastating effect. The foundation warns that as many as one in six charities believe they may close in the coming year, while nearly half say they are being forced to dip into reserves. One in three say they fear being forced to cut services.
The figures will make gloomy reading in Downing Street, which believes the third sector has a vital role to play in delivering the prime minister’s vision for his “big society”. The funding crisis comes as charities report that there is more demand for their services.
“Times are tough and people have less money to donate to charities,” said John Low, Caf’s chief executive. “This, combined with significant public spending cuts and increased demand for charity services, is having a shocking effect on many charities, calling into question their very viability. Many organisations are having to dip into their reserves, cut vital frontline services and some are even concerned about whether they can survive in these toughest of times.”
Charitable donations in the UK dropped by a fifth last year, according to an earlier survey by Caf and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, from £11bn to £9.3bn during 2011-12. As a result, more than eight out of 10 charities believe their sector is facing a crisis, with two in five (40%) fearing they face closure if the economic situation does not improve. Nearly three-quarters (73%) believe that they are unable to fulfil their goals, while one in four have axed staff.
A GRANDFATHER has completed an epic 450-mile bus trip – and it didn’t cost him a penny.
Semi-retired printer Roger Winton decided to use his free bus pass to raise some money for three of his favourite charities and thought a sponsored bus ride from Cornwall to Tonbridge would be the ideal way.
The 65-year-old had to take 30 bus journeys to travel the distance between Newquay and his home town and spent three nights camping.
The grandfather-of-one said his plan to raise money for Alzheimer’s Society, Parkinson’s UK and Guide Dogs for the Blind came after a round of golf with friends at Poult Wood Golf Centre.
Mr Winton said: “We were all around the table after a match and we were just chatting about charities and using a bus pass. I was the only idiot who thought it was a great idea.”
“The plan was to go down there by car, have a round of golf, then my friend will put me on the 5.10 bus out of Newquay, wave goodbye and hope I get home all right.”
Carrying 50lbs of camping gear on his back, and armed with a map and bus pass, Mr Winton set off on the scenic route from the South-West coast back to his Green Trees Avenue home on August 21.
He said: “I really enjoyed it. Some have asked, what do you do sitting on a bus all day? I just spoke to people, but it’s so much fun. They’re so friendly down in Cornwall.
And that was certainly the case for a group of plucky pensioners from Middlewich who ditched their easy chairs to hit the gym.
Four residents in their 80s from the Willowmere retirement village in East Road were sponsored to take part in this year’s Sports Relief.
Ron Ellison, 89, Frank Edge, 86, Dennis Walsh, 89, and Bill Goulding, 85, all beat their targets on Wednesday set by trainer Karen Hodgson.
“We’re always trying to keep residents active and mobile but this was their idea,” said events manager Dawn Billington.
“Since coming here they’ve become so active. It’s nice to get rid of those preconceived ideas that mature people just sit around and drink tea.
“They may be retired from work but not from life.” Read more
Helen Mirren has joined the likes of Terry Wogan to promote a charity campaign to encourage wealthy pensioners to donate their winter fuel payment to those who are worse off and genuinely need it to survive the cold weather and snow.
The Surviving Winter appeal has created a new fund for those who are in fuel poverty this winter and asked those who do not need their winter fuel payment to donate it. The fuel payments are not means-tested, so all pensioners, including those who can afford their own heating, receive the tax-free money from the Government.
The latest figures show around 5.4m houses are currently in fuel poverty, with close to half being aged 60 or over. Surviving Winter hope that with the help of those pensioners who do not need their payment they can reduce the number of old people who die from the cold.
It is feared that the number of elderly people dying from the cold could grow in the future as more people fail to save enough for retirement in personal pensions, available from providers like Virgin Money, to stay out of fuel poverty.
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PEOPLE in West Sussex will be able to continue buying and selling second hand disability equipment through a Worthing based charity.
The service, called AskDES, was previously run by the charity ‘Voice for Disability’ which has had to close. Another charity, ICIS, which is based in Worthing, is taking over the service.
AskDES enables people to sell or give away disability equipment that is no longer needed and to buy second hand equipment such as a walker, mobility scooter and many aids for daily living.
The cost of advertising equipment is free for anything under £100 and only £10 for items that cost more. The advertisements are published on the AskDES website for one year.
Trish Reynolds, Chairman of Voice for Disability, said “Over the years we have received many thank you letters from both buyers and sellers saying how useful they found the service. Since Voice for Disability is no longer able to continue with AskDES we are delighted that ICIS is taking it on and we wish them every success in the future.”
Read more on East Sussex Times