Great Britain, a country that has, undoubtedly, mistreated inhabitants of its former colonies in the East, is in the midst of an “old age crisis”, indicative of an imminent collapse of its empire.
Nowadays, nothing is going right for the UK, the country has lost not only its influential status abroad but also its guiding principles at home that govern the way the populace lives. Yet another sign of its troubles is a recent incident involving the historical Tower Bridge. Britain’s newspaper The Guardian reported that the bridge had got “stuck open for over an hour” “causing central London traffic to be gridlocked”. The article stated that the problem was due to “a mechanical fault”. However, it is quite clear that the “gears” of the entire nation, and not only of the 126-year-old bascule bridge, are out of order.
It is true that there is nothing fun about getting old. In fact, the adult inhabitants of this ageing empire are well aware of just how true the aforementioned statement is today. According to a study carried out by the Money Advice Service (MAS) in 2016, more than 16 million people in the UK had savings of less than £100. This is a fairly small amount of money (considering price levels in the nation at the time) that would have sufficed for a week’s worth of groceries in 2016. A survey conducted by the same organization in 2018 showed that people in Britain “scored most poorly on the planning ahead for life events behaviors” in comparison to other categories used to assess financial capability in the UK.
Great Britain’s institutional weaknesses were exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. And as a consequence, “unemployment is expected to rise across the UK later this year” and “many households will experience significant falls in their income”. The author would like to remind his readers that the state pension age is 65 for men and women in the UK, and the full new State Pension is £175.20 per week. To receive the full amount, eligible individuals need to have “10 qualifying years on” their National Insurance record or “35 qualifying years” if they “do not have a National Insurance record before 6 April 2016”. Clearly, such a sum cannot really cover all the necessary expenses of an elderly person given the current environment and the actual inflation rate.
In response, the UK government could claim that the elderly in the UK also benefit from personal social services (PSS), provided, directly or commissioned, by local councils. However, such financial assistance is “targeted at those whose assets and income are not sufficient to pay for their care”.
According to an article published by The Guardian in June 2019, the government’s failure to deal with an “escalating financial crisis in social care” had put “tens of thousands of older and disabled people at risk of being denied basic support”. The report stated that since 2010, £7.7 billion “had been cut from adult social care budgets in England”, and a further £700 million of cuts were planned for 2019-20. As a result, “tightening eligibility for council-funded social care” meant that “627,000 people – nearly 900 a day – had been refused social care since March 2017”. Hence, some elderly individuals had to either seek care from their relatives or get themselves admitted into nursing homes. In 2019, the average cost of these facilities in the UK was “£33,852 a year,” and “this rose to over £47,320 a year when nursing care was included”. It is also important to remember that it could be even more expensive to arrange such care for individuals suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Hence, some of the UK’s elderly inhabitants have been forced to sell their homes, which they had spent a number of years paying off.
At this point in the article, it seems apt to remind our readers that in November 2019, current Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised that pensioners would “no longer have to sell their homes to pay for social care under a Tory government”. He also pledged to make other improvements to the lives of UK residents.
However, since then, the elderly have continued to face hardships and the situation in the UK has seemingly worsened.
According to The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, a German newspaper, “the economic slump as a result of” the Coronavirus lockdown was “deeper in Great Britain than in any other European” country. The UK economy contracted by 20.4% in the second quarter of 2020. In fact, the drop exceeded the GDP decline in Spain and Italy during the same period, the two countries that were also badly affected by the COVID-19 crisis. The article also stated that the Bank of England had predicted the UK unemployment rate would almost double, from just under 4% to 7.5% by the end of the year. The nation’s job support program is due to expire at the end of October, which means companies “will probably fire hundreds of thousands of people on leave”. According to Barclays UK Consumer Spending Report, consumer spending had fallen “2.6% year-on-year in July”, the lowest decline since the lockdown began. London, the most populous capital in Western Europe (with its nearly 9 million inhabitants) responsible for generating almost a quarter of UK’s GDP, has seemingly become a ghost town.
In July 2020, Sky News reported that, according to a cross-party group of members of parliament, “food shortages, which began under lockdown” were “likely to get worse before” they got better.
An article, published by The Daily Mail on July 19, 2020, stated that lockdown had “led to an unprecedented surge in alcohol problems, with four in ten households drinking more than before”. UK inhabitants appeared to be drowning their sorrows in a bottle in the midst of the pandemic.
The UK government is seemingly ignoring all of these problems. According to France 24 (a Paris-based news TV network), an investigation revealed that “up to 10,000 people” could be working in slave-like conditions in the UK city of Leicester. Apparently, “thousands of undeclared migrants and immigrants were forced to work” in the UK textile industry “during the nation’s lockdown, for less than half the minimum wage, in conditions” that rights groups decried as “modern-day slavery”. The report also said that employees of these factories, which “produce cheap clothing for low-cost labels”, were not provided with any personal protective equipment in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic. The problem of poor work conditions had been called out for years but the government chose to turn “a blind eye”.
Therefore, the results of the latest YouGov poll, showing that 53% of Scottish inhabitants were in favor of independence, were not at all surprising. And after the UK left the European Union, Prime Minister Boris Johnson became “increasingly consumed with trying to stop the breakaway of restive parts” of the United Kingdom (such as Scotland).
The author thus expects a complete collapse of the British Empire in the near future. After all, its “gears”, with the exception of those responsible for propaganda, appear to be stuck.
Vladimir Danilov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.