22nd October 2020
Coach Insurance Broker Suggests Ageism’s Behind Lack of Sector Support
Coach insurance specialist, McCarron Coates, is calling on the UK Government and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, to look deep into their souls and examine whether the continued inexplicable failure to support the UK coach industry is actually rooted in blatant ageism.
At a time when the removal of Sue Barker as the host of A Question of Sport and commentator Clive Tyldesley from ITV sport have already sparked cries of ageism – a topic discussed openly by entertainment stars such as Madonna and Arlene Phillips – McCarron Coates says there is an argument to say that a lack of support for the UK coach industry is down to the fact that nobody really cares about whether or not older people can have holidays.
Although travel corridors have been swiftly opened for air travellers and the UK bus and tram sector funded to the tune of £700m, McCarron Coates believes coaches have been written off as a casualty of the pandemic as, apart from operators, the vast majority of people who will suffer are the over-60s.
Britain’s “invisible” demographic was shown to be a frequent victim of ageist discrimination when the report by the Centre for Ageing Better, ‘Doddery but Dear’ was published in March. 48% of those surveyed admitted to having been ageist at some point. As David Sinclair, director of the International Longevity Centre, said: “Tackling ageism means tackling patronising attitudes to older people.”
Speaking on ‘Wake up to Money’ this morning, Jenna Rush, founder of Honk for Hope and MD of North East Coach Travel said of her attempts to elicit support from the UK Government, “For some reason, they’re ignoring coach companies. It’s as if we’re not even here.” McCarron Coates believes that is because coach operators have been bracketed with the invisible generation.
Paul Coates, a director of McCarron Coates who has attended Honk for Hope rallies, says: “The Government is failing not just coach operators but also the older generation who are faced with having little or no means of enjoying travel and holidays – either in the UK or abroad – if the coach sector is wiped out. The Government may see that as just unavoidable collateral damage caused by coronavirus and think that the industry will re-form, at some point. What it is failing to see is that the industry is run mainly by family firms, who have given personal guarantees to buy coaches that the Government has insisted they need, fitted with eco-features and wheelchair facilities and other things required to suit legislation. When their business goes, so will the whole family’s livelihood and probably their homes too.
“There will be no bouncing back, no new coach sector provided by dedicated family firms caring about more mature travellers, no chance for those with health conditions that prevent them travelling abroad for insurance reasons, to have any holiday at all. Operators will be bankrupt.”
Fellow director, Ian McCarron, adds, “It’s like someone in an ivory tower is saying, “We don’t care whether mature people get a holiday, they’ve had a good run, why should they need any more trips?” It’s inextricably linked to a distinct lack of support for UK theatres – another pleasure for older generations. We cannot help but view it as rampant ageism and, unfortunately, this discrimination against a sector that predominantly serves the retired and semi-retired is leading to the demise of the UK coach sector.”
McCarron Coates is demanding that Whitehall examines its conscience, recognises that the leisure opportunities available to older people do matter and also puts pressure on finance companies to extend payment holidays to coach operators paying off finance deals.
It also demands that the Government builds more thought into strategies like the Rule of Six, recognising that it is the younger demographic that is driving coronavirus infection but the older generation that is suffering because of it, in every possible way. Applying a blanket Rule of Six on older people, who will not be in contact with party goers, ravers and younger people within workplaces, but travelling safely on a coach, is again totally unfair.
“The Government talks about its concern for those largely living in self-isolation and voluntarily shielding and yet is killing off an industry that could give them some safe escape and a chance to have a real life and something new to enjoy for a few days,” says Paul Coates. “It’s double-standards all the way and we have to believe ageism is at the heart of the total lack of support for the UK coach sector and the 42,000 jobs that rely on it. There is no other explanation for the way in which the pleas of the sector are just continually waved away, when the Government is pouring millions into bus transport that its favoured younger people do not wish to travel on anyway, as they are now used to working from home.”