Monthly Briefing Feb 2020

Monthly Briefing Feb 2020

Funding the BBC

It won’t be long before some of us will again have to coff up for a licence to watch TV. Organisations like the National Pensioners Convention have been yelling and screaming on behalf of the over 75’s and Boris has ‘promised’ to make funding aunty a government responsibility. However, so far nothing has changed. (See January Campaign!)

What has changed, since the 70’s is viewing habits. When the licence fee was introduced in 1923 there was no way to regulate who could receive broadcasts so funding from all who bought radios made sense.

Nowadays the case is that it is the only model that guarantees universality and political independence. It also provides risk capital for the UK creative sector so supporting emerging talent and investing for the future.

Unfortunately in these days of Sky, ITV etc and Netflix many, and particularly the young do without the BBC so it would be fair if they didn’t pay. So what are the alternatives?  

Fund from general taxation but this brings political exposure and dependence on the government of the day.

Make it a subscriber service such as PBS America. (AKA known as BBC USA) An idea being floated is to create a ‘National Broadcasting Trust’ where there would be differing rates for young and old and for watching on multiple devices. This would protect from political interference, encourage competition and diversity of provision.

However, imagine the complexity of the administration. I know PBS struggles as they devote whole evenings appealing for private funding. The outcome is anyone can watch but only some will pay. Also, compare the quality of terrestrial available here and there and the difference is startling. Further I doubt if PBS makes any of its own programs.

My own conclusion is that even tho inequity has developed the licence works so don’t fix it.

Chinese New Year

The Chinese zodiac, known as Shēngziao and follows a 12 year cycle in which each year is characterised by a different animal. New Year this time was 24 January and is the year of the Rat.

The particulars of the Shēngziao origin is shrouded in mystery. Legend tells that the Jade Emperor decreed that animals were to be chosen to represent years. To determine their order, a race was held with each animal’s place being assigned according to how soon it reached the Emperor.

Rat was first having cunningly hitched a ride on an Ox who came second. Tiger and Rabbit were next. Dragon soared in fifth and Snake slithered in one place behind. Horse and sheep followed. Monkey was ninth while Rooster, Dog and Pig completed the twelve.

There is no cat represented because Rat was supposed to wake him up but forgot so Cat overslept.

In winning the race, Rat is seen as quick thinking, optimistic and energetic. Those born in the year of the Rat are great at building relationships, curious and intelligent. You are one if born in 1924, 36, 48 or 60. Compare and contrast!

January Talk

Was by Sue Byrne of Sovereign Estates Planning.

NB: The subject matter needs to be completely accurate as it could influence member’s decisions. Therefore anything I write is subject to verification by Sue or your own financial adviser.

She offers an in home service on the subjects of Wills, Lasting Power of Attorney, Trusts, Inheritance Tax, Probate and Funeral Plans. There wasn’t time to cover all these subjects. More in November’s talk.

Married couples own their home as “Joint Tenants” or “Tenants in Common”.

If joint then on the first death the survivor becomes sole owner and may go on to share with a new partner such that the children become disinherited.

In Common means they own half each absolutely. On the first death the children have the legal right to inherit the deceased half.  The surviving spouse in common may dispose their half as they wish.

If the survivor does not remarry and lives on into old age and then needs to go into a nursing home the local council is effectively denied the possibility of selling the family home to pay for the care costs as to sell half a house is impossible.

Setting up a ‘Family Trust ‘is a good way to hand over ownership of your house to your immediate descendants. This is almost sure to prevent the local authority from acquiring your property to pay for your care home. The ‘almost’ comes into play if you die within something like 2 years after setting up the Trust. The Council may go to court claiming “Deprivation of Assets” and overturn the Trust. The advice is to set it up when you are in reasonable health.

The nil rate band Inheritance Tax (IHT) for a single person is £325,000. As a home owner Residential Uplift came in 2017 meaning that by April the band has gone up to £500,000. The married couple rate is £650,000. The marginal tax rate is 40% on anything above. If you think of giving your house to the kids the advice is don’t. You will have to pay them a commercial rent on which they will be taxed.

The last subject was Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA). This has to be set up by you when mentally able in anticipation of you becoming incapable of managing your affairs. There are 2 sorts, Financial and Property and Health and Wellbeing. They are administered by the Office of the Public Guardian and should be set up with the aid of a Solicitor.

Sue’s firm offers a Funeral Plan. As the cost of funerals doubles every 10 years it is good advice to nail it down as soon as possible.

Southend’s Culture Future

Have your say at

Dates for your Diary

4th March: 12.30pm Fund Raising Lunch at The Shorehouse, Ness Rd., Shoeburyness, SS3 9HQ. £15 per person. Call Jean 341047 for your place.

18 March: Next meeting. RSPB Talk on birds in your garden.

Ongoing on Fridays 10-noon. Qi Gong classes at St Margaret’s Church Hall, Lime Avenue, Leigh. Posture, flowing movements and deep breathing. Run by David Puncher. Tel 07788196737.

1st Fridays. 10-noon. Coffee morning at Chalkwell Park Methodist to raise money for various charities.

Ongoing: Second Wednesday Leigh Town Council over 60’s social club. 10 to noon. Board games and refreshments. £2.

This evening 19 Feb: Talk by John Matthews on Alfred Russel Wallace, the associate of Charles Darwin. St Andrew’s church hall, London Road, Wickford. 7:45pm

Wednesday evenings at 7:30. Leigh Townswomen’s Guild meet at St Michael and All Angels Church Hall, Leigh Road. Talks and outings.

23 Feb: Eco Fair with guest speakers at Leigh Community Centre. 30 stalls of jewellery, arts and crafts, local produce, artisan goods and family businesses. Noon to 5pm. £5 entry.

7 March: Coffee with Councillors at Leigh Community Centre. Get it off your chest! 10 to noon. 01702 716288 to register interest.

14 March: Verdi’s opera Aida at the Towngate, Basildon. Russian State Opera Co. 7:30pm. Tickets from £30.   Book early.

30 & 31 May: Rochford hosts an event to celebrate the launch of the Beagle 200 years ago.