JEFF PRESTRIDGE: Look out BBC… Mum’s on the warpath


You cross my mother at your peril. I’ve learnt not to do so, although a recent trip back to Birmingham to see her backfired spectacularly when I turned up looking like a tramp (her words, not mine). 

It took a while for her anger to bubble to the surface, but when it did, my eardrums rang for days. 

Never again will I see Mum with my shirt not ironed and my jacket crumpled.

Jeff Prestridge's mother is one of the 3.7 million ¿over-75¿ households who next spring will lose their right to a free television licence

Jeff Prestridge’s mother is one of the 3.7 million ‘over-75’ households who next spring will lose their right to a free television licence

Last week, Mother exploded again, but this time her ire was directed at the BBC. She is one of the 3.7 million ‘over-75’ households who next spring will lose their right to a free television licence.

To say mother is incandescent with rage is an understatement. She is livid. Since husband Stan The Man died two years ago, television has provided a comfort blanket for those all too often moments when she has felt lonely and bereft. 

Strictly Come Dancing (loves it), anything with Piers Morgan and Dancing On Ice, are all favourites.

Mum is hopeful the BBC will have a change of heart because of the outrage that has been unleashed. If it doesn’t, she will have no choice but to make household cutbacks to afford the licence, currently costing £154.50. 

For some over-75s, they might be able to mitigate the cost of a licence by claiming benefit they had hitherto not applied for. Namely pension credit, a top-up to the State pension available to those on low incomes.

Some 1.3 million households are currently not taking up their right to pension credit, worth an average annual £2,500 – some 600,000 of whom are currently eligible for a free TV licence. 

Jeff says Strictly Come Dancing is one of his mother's favourite shows

Jeff says Strictly Come Dancing is one of his mother’s favourite shows

So, if you think you may be eligible, ring the pension credit claim line on 0800 991234. You will need your National Insurance number and bank account, savings and investment details. 

Alternatively, you can ask your local Citizens Advice or charity Age UK to assist in claiming. Mum isn’t eligible (I checked when Dad died), so she will have to take it on the proverbial financial chin.

As for BBC director general Tony Hall, a word of advice. I would steer clear of Birmingham for a while, irrespective of crumpled jacket or a freshly dry-cleaned one. Mother is waiting to give you a verbal roasting.

The directors’ remuneration for Nationwide Building Society was released last Wednesday without a scintilla of fanfare. It showed that chief executive Joe Garner received a financial package worth £2,372,000 in the year to April 4, 2019 – some £1 million by way of a performance award.

To put this package into context, it represented a rise of 2.3 per cent on the year before (modest in percentage terms, not in absolute terms) and was some 77 times the amount the ‘average’ Nationwide employee received (£30,939).

Of course, Garner runs a good ship. Despite the society’s profits slipping sharply in the last financial year – from £977 million to £833 million – service standards remain high, it continues to move into new areas (small business banking is next) and customer trust remains high. 

A point independently verified by the results of the latest Moneywise customer service awards announced a couple of days ago. Only First Direct, says Moneywise, is more trusted as a provider of financial products.

Yet it would be understandable if some customers were angered by the enormity of Garner’s rewards. Two options are available. They can seek pastures new, though I wouldn’t advise them to do so in light of the paucity of most alternative offerings. The more sensible approach is to vote against the remuneration ahead of the annual meeting on July 18.

In the coming weeks, customers will be invited – by post or email – to use their AGM vote. In completing the voting form, don’t agree to allow the society’s chairperson to cast your vote on your behalf. 

Instead, vote on the individual resolutions and against the remuneration report. It won’t change anything, but it will send a message to Nationwide that sky-high executive pay is unacceptable – especially when the organisation is not a plc but owned by its customers.

Do you think Joe Garner’s remuneration is fair? Email jeff.prestridge@mailonsunday.co.uk.

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