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Government criticised for leaving older generation behind

Government criticised for leaving older generation behind

Wednesday 19 January 2022

Government criticised for leaving older generation behind

Wednesday 19 January 2022


A charity that supports elderly islanders has criticised the Government for leaving them behind and even discriminating against them.

Age Concern Jersey will soon be launching a campaign about 'age discrimination', which they say the Government is the “biggest culprit” of.

The charity recently shared its concerns in a letter to the Public Accounts Committee, a panel of politicians responsible for scrutinising the Government's response to the pandemic.

“St. Helier is becoming increasingly difficult to access, the closure of the Social Security Department, and Income Tax Department, to ‘pop-in’ queries is a backward step,” it read.

“Furthermore, the insistence that tax returns and many other aspects of Government are moved online is a retrograde step for many members.” 

online

Pictured: "The insistence that tax returns and many other aspects of Government are moved online is a retrograde step for many members," Age Concern said.

The charity noted the Government should have communicated better with islanders and offered “timely advice and guidance” to all sectors of the community.

“Most of our members do not have access to computers or smart phones and much of the advice and guidance was technology based, in particular vaccination booking and PCR tests and results,” Age Concern added.

“Furthermore, the message at the beginning frightened many of our members, to the extent they were scarred to leave their homes. Whilst it is acknowledged that a strong message on the severity of the pandemic may have been necessary to get the general population to comply with the new restrictions, there is a thin line between a strong professional message and terrorising a section of the community to the detriment of their mental health.” 

The charity urged the Government to “take into consideration the perspective of all sectors in the community”, a message which its Vice Chairman, Ben Shenton, repeated when speaking to Express.

“In making policies, they do not give enough thought to the circumstances of the elderly,” he said.

OneGovPhilipLeFeuvreHouseLaMotteStreetSocialSecurityCustomerServices3.jpg

Pictured: The decision to close he Customer and Local Services’ building has affected elderly islanders who were used to face-to-face interaction.

Mr Shenton said decisions to move more Government services online and close the Customer and Local Services building at La Motte Street had affected elderly islanders who are either not computer-literate or hesitant to use the phone and were used to simply walking in to ask employees for help with any issues they might have.

This, he said, goes for Income Support as well as housing services. The latter, he noted, also affects homeless people who do not have the technology to access the Government’s website.

Mr Shenton said the closure of Broad Street has also caused problems for elderly people, as well as those with reduced mobility.

“Historically, people would be dropped off and go to Marks and Spencer, or De Gruchy’s, and then get picked up, but now it’s closed,” he said.

He also noted how some road layouts are putting older people at risk, such as shared spaces. 

“They are very confusing for the elderly,” he explained. “We’ve already seen a few problems and as we move towards electric cars, which can’t be heard, it will become more difficult. 

“There will be a fatality and we will hold them to account if that happens because they knew about the dangers after the accident at the town park.”

Mr Shenton also believes the needs of the elderly have not been sufficiently considered. 

“We are moving away from an hospital that is very easy to access to one that will take transport and logistics to access,” he said. “It will impact people in two ways, first in the way they access the hospital, but also if anyone is coming to hospital, especially elderly people, they might not be able to receive a number of visitors, because people might not be able to pop during their lunchtime. It will not be easy to pop over and go visit them.”

Our Hospital Overdale view from east.jpeg

Pictured: The new hospital will be harder to access for the island's elderly people and their visitors.

Overall, Mr Shenton said the island’s older generation is being “left behind”.

“What we have been doing historically is dealing with those issues as they arise,” he explained. “We raise them with the individual department but we haven’t raise them in a general way.

“[When we discussed the issues] We always had, not so much an excuse but we are told people can phone up and someone will help them.  

“Age Concern will also help people out with online stuff. But the more stuff goes online, the more people will be excluded. We know of cases where people are not claiming what they could claim.”

According to Mr Shenton, the solution is “really simple”. 

“It’s for the Government to think before they do anything and think how it will impact someone,” he said. “That includes limited mobility for people can only walk for 20 yards, or face to face interaction, which is what the older generation is used to.” 

He also suggested there should be a proper consultation with local charities, noting there hadn’t been any ahead of the closure of Broad Street. 

“They will do a consultation to tick a box but there’s a difference between a consultation where you talk to someone and a consultation where you actually listen."

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Comments

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Posted by nigel pearce on
Since the installation of a ministerial government upon us, it has become clear that the general public are nothing more than a nuisance to be ignored while the elite few government (States) members plough gaily ahead with their personal agenda regardless.
Posted by Scott Mills on
once you stop working and paying into the system they don't give a dyuam!!!! other nations really do look after their elders, however most most of the western world they put them out with the rubbish!!
Posted by Valerie Payne on
An excellent article that clearly states problems for the elderly particularly with the use of technology and mobility issues.
Posted by gordon le claire on
well only vote for people who will demand the states buildings are reopened and state publicly if they change they mind and go against what they told people while trying to get elected they will resign
Posted by Keith Marsh on
and for the quote "we are told people can phone up and someone will help them", has anyone actually tried to do this.
Today, like many others, I received my "redesigned NEW INCOME TAX RETURN" ~ said to be easier, except my eyesight is not as good as it once was, and the printing is so very small. So, I search online ~ there is an A3 version, just phone us, it says.
I try ..... what number do I phone ???
No help on line.
Not much help on the new tax return, but I find a number eventually. THREE MACHINES each with a choice of 6 alternatives later, I get a human, who sends me to another machine with 4 choices.
After 25 minutes on line and 14 minutes on the phone, I get a human ~ well I think I did ~ he had never heard of a large print tax return.
So after waiting on hold, whilst he tried to find out IF there was such a thing as a Large Print Tax Return, No Luck ~ they THINK there might be one, but no one knows for certain !
So I wait ~ Still no A3 Tax Return.
Something that would have taken moments at the Tax Office drop in, will probably NEVER get resolved.
So much for ONE GOVERNMENT ~ forget it, they are a waste of time.
I wonder what will happen when I don't pay the large tax bill !
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