This week’s news (see https://www.manx.net/isle-of-man-news/84481/government-to-end-contract-which-supports-the-delivery-of-meals-on-wheels) that the Manx government is to stop paying Age Concern to deliver Meals on Wheels left me unmoved. Mostly because they weren’t delivering them anyway. Like most other government “partnerships” with their third sector sock puppets, the whole idea was little more than a badly camouflaged attempt by civil servants to look as if they give a flying one about the needy.
In fact, the only thing about the story that surprises me is that some anonymous apparatchik even bothered to check. Well, that and the novel idea that when they actually found public money being poured down the drain someone thought of turning the tap off.
I’m also amused when people still refer to Age Concern as a charity, or think that their staff are involved in helping older people, rather than themselves.
To understand what’s really going on, you need to look at the UK parent, Age UK – the bastard offspring of a 2009 shotgun wedding between two charity industry dinosaurs, Age Concern and Help The Aged. Their executives agreed the merger rather than continue to fight over a potential income field of over £50 million.
It worked, and spawned a UK empire of nominally independent regional charities with a combined annual income of £47 million from charity shops and similar sources, but a much bigger £100 million income from a commercial arm – Age Concern Enterprises. Most of that is from iffy tie-ups with other shysters who prey on the old, such as insurance companies, holiday firms, nursing and respite care, etc. etc.
In fact, it gets worse. The empire also has a global arm – Age International. Will the social concern ever start?
The Manx operation has long been a joke. Right from the point where their first CEO deserted a perpetual free lunch at the Hospice to run a new “good cause” through the bottom of her gin glass. I remember, for example, that during the bird flu scare a few years ago Age Concern’s rep startled government officials at a planning meeting by asking if Meals on Wheels drivers could be issued with firearms.
At the time I wrote it off as the half-cut twitterings of yet another blue-rinse aristo. I even remember joking with someone about vans with gun turrets manned by red-faced retired colonels.
Then, a couple of days ago, someone who exactly fits that stereotype chimed in to say vets were displeased by the planned cuts. This was the same tweedy old barfmat who, a couple of months back, also claimed vets would be displeased if they had to start paying for a TV licence. Oh, and is first in the queue for free alcohol at every state subsidised national military commemoration.
So this weekend alone that’s two consecutive mornings without him having to buy his own drink then. No wonder the government has no money to pay for essential services for the elderly.