21 November 2021

Equity

Eamon Holmes - British TV personality - and the smiling face of equity release

Back in May, 2015 I wrote about my friend Higgy and the issues he was facing regarding health, money, work  and I suppose life itself. Go here.

Roll forward six years and things are no better. He is sixty two now. Incredibly, he held a job down for two years - as a low paid carer attending to elderly people in their homes but he lost that job a year ago over some issue with documentation of visits undertaken. 

In England, the long term unemployed are often pushed into basic jobs by a system that is unwilling to cough up benefits to those who have the capacity to work. It's all much tighter than it used to be and the unemployed are sometimes seen as idle layabouts who in effect are scrounging off the state.  That is how Higgy ended up as a carer when arguably he is someone who needs a carer himself.

I swear that no cleaning whatsoever has happened in his flat since I used to call in there to help Higgy with job applications and the negotiation of welfare hurdles. There are items on his coffee table that have not moved in seven years, including a leather diary that is covered with a 2mm layer of dust.

On another part of the coffee table, twelve  thin rolled up cigarettes were sitting in a line for later. That sitting room is stained brown by nicotine - even the Audrey Hepburn mirror left on the wall by the flat's previous owner. Higgy inherited all of her furniture, including the pictures on the walls, the bed. the carpets, everything  and he was never tempted to change a thing.

It's like a set for a television drama about a hermit-like fellow who was ignorant of the concept of cleaning. In the kitchen , toast crumbs gather like tiny tumbleweeds in an abandoned western gold-rush town and you wouldn't want to see the ceiling where the paint peels  like lines of surf upon an ocean.

Yet Higgy remains as bright as a button when it comes to current affairs and football. He retains so much knowledge, so many names and dates. Perhaps he is autistic but if he is it has never been diagnosed.

He doesn't go out any more because he has no money so he has decided to access a few thousand pounds through the equity release route. He seems to have no other choice and he has pressing debts to pay. Recently he has taken to staying in bed much of the day - just to keep warm. He is dreaming of three pints of lager beer in the local pub at lunchtime on Christmas Day.

In order to  release equity in his flat he needs witnesses and that is why I visited him yesterday with another friend who was also visibly take aback by the state of the place. It is what my mother would have called "a pig sty". Even so I still like Higgy and I hope the funds come through soon to keep that damned wolf from his door.

31 comments:

  1. It's sad that some people need someone to "take care of them". They don't seem to be able to look after themselves.

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  2. Poor Higgy. It's sad how some people's lives end up.

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    1. With Higgy one is painfully aware of what might have been.

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  3. I read the previous post about Higgy and saw your idea that he may have autism. It really sounds like it and people with autism often have issues with eating, not least because of their texture aversions.
    It sounds a miserable life, I'm glad he has your help.

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    1. There are a few people who look out for him. Interesting that you also see the signs of autism in his life.

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  4. It is sad to see how Higgy would actually need professional help but instead was even made to work as a carer. You are a good friend to him, maybe his only one?
    It is also sad to know that all his brightness is going to waste like that.
    I don't know the concept of equity release but I am glad I don't need it to survive.

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    1. Equity release concerns releasing money that is locked into your property. Many people are very suspicious of it. It is often done in desperation. Higgy does have a couple of other men who loo out for him though he has been his own worst enemy.

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  5. I presume he has no family to support him and therefore nobody to inherit his flat? Hopefully equity release will provide enough to keep him going. Good luck to him.

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    1. His father has dementia and his estranged sister lives in Chester. If he uses the equity release money wisely it could help him through the next five years but though he is clever he is not wise. He has to fist pay off creditors such as his energy company.

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  6. Is he not eligible for the usual social security payments? They may not be for luxury living but in case of England, adequate for survival. We have something similar to equity release and great care needs to be taken when looking at how it works for individuals.

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    1. He gets some social security payments but they are limited because he owns the flat. Higgy does not understand the concept of taking "great care" with his finances. He just wants the money in his hands NOW! It's like a stay of execution. He is not open to persuasion apart from Eamon Holmes's persuasion from the TV screen.

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    2. It's impossible not to say "There but for the grace of fortune, go I."

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    3. The course of one's life can swivel on a pinhead.

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  7. I often wonder how people arrive at such a state. I assume his early life, perhaps parents, are the reason he is like he is.

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    1. My suspicion is that his relationship with his father changed everything. He was made to feel inadequate.

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  8. You have to be desperate to use equity release. The parents of someone I know did it many years ago on their 18th century cottage at Bretton. When they died, the equity release company got the whole house which was then sold for just under a million pounds. They released nothing like that, of course. I recognise that Higgy's situation looks different.

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    1. s/b 19th century - not all, just oldest parts.

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    2. I think they have underestimated the value of his flat. A good lick of paint and it would have added £25,000 to the estimate.

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  9. This is so tragic.

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  10. Oh dear, poor Higgy.
    If he does manage to obtain some of the equity in his flat, he needs someone to keep a close eye on him to stop him frittering the money away. From what you say of his personality, it sounds as though he could be easily encouraged to spend it on the wrong things, and possibly attract those who would help him spend it all too quickly.
    I suspect that quite a few people in similar situations to Higgy, and of similar temperament, will be seduced by Eamon Holmes' smooth talking and foresee a world of riches within their grasp. It strikes me as being irresponsible advertising and needs some regulation in place to protect people like Higgy.

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    1. Eamon Holmes should be ashamed of himself. I wonder if he realises what heartbreak can result from equity release in the long run. It is a kind of robbery dressed up as a kind of charity.

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  11. I don't think you can do anything to keep Higgy from foolishness. Neither can we do anything about a system that is greedy, perhaps it doesn't matter that he hasn't an inheritance too leave. Equity is a cruel way of ensnarement.

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    1. I doubt that Eamon Holmes will ever need to resort to equity release.

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  12. Isn't equity release a big scam? Not that I have any better suggestions for Higgy to keep the wolves at bay. I don't understand why civilized countries like the UK and (even more so) the USA don't have better systems in place to care for people who can't manage on their own.

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    1. It is indeed a puzzle. Things used to be a lot better than this in England but cuts in council funding mean the services have been much reduced.



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  13. It makes me sad and despairing that people have to live like this. But I don't know what the solutions might be, which is also sad. That sounds like what we call a reverse mortgage here.

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    1. Higgy's position is not as clearcut as "the authorities" might presume.

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  14. Interesting my blog of tomorrow echos this

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    1. Well, I look forward to reading that John.

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