VISITS/CHARGES AT ENGLISH HERITAGE PROPERTIES

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Hi there!

I wonder if other carers have become aware of an anomaly in English Heritage’s charging policy for visitors with disabilities, accompanied by carers. The situation arises if carers have annual or life membership.

We became aware of this anomaly in June this year, when, after a gap of some years, we rejoined English Heritage, by taking out joint senior annual membership at one of their properties (previously we had family membership). We then visited another English heritage property on the same day. Our son, who has severe learning difficulties, was with us during both visits. At the second property, we were told that we would have to pay an entry fee for our son, even though we had annual membership, and had therefore paid for entry ourselves.

The anomaly here is that a carer who does not have annual (or life membership) would be admitted free, if accompanying a visitor with a disability.

So:

1 disabled visitor + carer without annual or life membership = 1 entry fee;

but:

1disabled visitor + carer with annual or life membership = 2 entry fees.

I subsequently drew English Heritage’s attention to this anomaly. They have promised to review their charging policy in this respect/refer the matter to their Disability Action Group. They have also, as a gesture of goodwill (the charging policy was not explained to us when we took out our joint annual senior membership; our reception at the second property was rather less than welcoming), given our son free entry to their properties.

However, for the moment, the anomaly remains. I would be interested to know if other members of Carers UK have noticed it, or come across similar anomalies in the charging policies of other organizations - and, if so, what sort of response they have had when they raised the issue.

Below is an abbreviated version of the letter I wrote to English Heritage in August, following my original e-mailed complaint to them.

Re: English Heritage and visitors with learning disabilities.
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As a preferable alternative to your policy, we would suggest a similar approach to that which applies to, for example, travel arrangements for the learning disabled in West Yorkshire. Our son’s concessionary travel pass means that, if he travels by bus within West Yorkshire, he and whoever accompanies him travels free. If he travels by train, both he and his carer travel at half price.

We are not suggesting that entry to English Heritage sites should be free for both those with learning disabilities and their carers.

What we are suggesting is that:
(a) where neither the learning disabled visitor nor his/her carer(s) have annual or life membership, both should enter English Heritage properties at half-price;
(b) where either the learning disabled visitor or his/her carer(s) have an annual or life membership, the one who does not have such membership should enter the site free of charge.

Such an approach would be fair to both the learning disabled visitors and their carers; and, as you are currently willing to admit a companion free of charge, would not have any adverse effects on your revenue.

The approach we are recommending to you would also eliminate an anomaly in your current charging structure, which is unfair to those who have annual or life membership.

I will illustrate this point by the following examples, in which x refers to a learning disabled visitor and y to his/her carer/companion.

Example A

x and y visit an English heritage site. Neither x nor y has annual or life membership. In accordance with your current charging policy, x is charged the full entry fee, while y enters free of charge.

Therefore, only one entrance fee is charged for two visitors.

Example B

x and y visit an English Heritage site. y has an annual or life membership. x is charged the full entry fee. However, as y has annual or life membership, s/he is also paying to enter the site.

Therefore, two entry fees are being charged for two visitors.

And, indeed, this was the situation we were faced with on 29th June. An entrance fee was demanded for our son, even though my wife and I had already paid for entry via our joint senior annual membership.

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I do hope that English Heritage will give positive consideration to the change in charging policy that I have suggested above, and try to be fair to both the learning disabled and their carers in the future. It would be very welcome development.

Yours sincerely,

Dr David Mills Daniel
This does seem rather unfair. We visit National heritage sites and use the carer goes free option - so only pay for one entry for both of us. They always give us a leaflet about membership and it was something I was going to consider - however if the situation is as you say and remains so, there would be nothing to gain from having membership.

Let us know the outcome.

Melly1
Hi there,

I have received the following e-mail from English Heritage about this issue:

“We have very recently discussed the points you raised at our Social Inclusion and Diversity Review Group, and it was agreed that further research is needed. We are taking this very seriously and are planning to carry out research as soon as we can and will back get to you again when we have more information.”

If you agree with me that English Heritage should change its charging policy, so as to remove the anomaly that treats carers with annual/life membership differently from carers without annual/life membership, when visiting English Heritage sites with a disabled person (see above for a full explanation of this anomaly), please would you either:

(a) Record your views on the Forum, so that I can pass them on to English Heritage;
or
(b) Email your views to English Heritage Customer Services (http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/abou ... rvice-form).

Best wishes,

David
Hi David, I thought long and hard before I renewed my membership for the National Trust this time and for just the kind of issue you raise.
It's not ideal but in the end I decided to continue. I pay £6 odd per month and as it's my OH who has the disabilities, this allows us both entry as many times as we like. I know as a Carer I could get in Free but it'd probably cost more than the £6.00 we currently pay for a single entry anyway.

Good luck with this and I'll follow your thread with interest. Image
(((hugs)))
Marie x
We didn't bother with either, as hubby couldn't get into or around the vast majority of their houses/sites anyway. We just paid to go round the gardens or to walk in the grounds, no point having membership just for that. In our experience the NT staff were totally unhelpful anyway and didn't really like us.
However, Sandringham House (Queenie's Christmas retreat), were desperately helpful and keen to make sure that hubby could see and touch everything and get everywhere. I would recommend Sandringham to anyone with caree in wheelchair. They couldn't have been nicer.
Many thanks for the information about National Trust and other sites. I wasn't aware that National Trust charging policy in relation to carers (with annual/life membership) was the same as English Heritage's.

Please provide any information you have about charging policies - and also the kind of reception you get - at properties run by English Heritage, National Trust and others. If things aren't satisfactory, they will only improve if we tell the organizations concerned about our experiences.

And if you agree with me about the English Heritage charging policy, please e-mail them about it (contact details on my previous post).

Best wishes,

David