Published: Wed, June 12, 2019
Life&Culture | By Sue Mclaughlin

Anger over means testing for over-75s free TV licences

Anger over means testing for over-75s free TV licences

Chairman of the BBC Sir David Clementi said: "Linking a free licence for over-75s to Pension Credit was the leading reform option".

With great political timing, the BBC has announced today that it will be stopping the blanket provision of free TV licences to the over 75s and replacing it with a means tested system.

We don't receive pension credit. Only around 1.5million households will be eligible under the new scheme.

The former Labour leader wrote to the BBC during its consultation on the future of the concession, the cost of which it inherited from the Government as part of its new charter.

"This move could put the price of a TV licence beyond some pensioners which would increase isolation and have a negative impact on their mental health".

"There will also be some anger too at the decision made by the BBC but in the end this is the responsibility of the UK Government".

Director-General Tony Hall defended the plan.

The BBC added the funding available for British services is already 24 percent lower than if the licence fee had gone up with inflation from 2010.

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Furthermore, TV Licensing will be developing a new "Pay as you Go" payment scheme especially for customers who will need to pay for their licence from June 2020. "People across this country value television as a way to stay connected and we want the BBC to look again at ways to support older people", the spokesman told reporters.

A pensioner has described the impact that changes to the TV licence fee for the over 75s will have on the working classes as another "nail in the coffin".

Over the course of the next month TV Licensing will be writing directly to everyone who now has a free over 75 licence to let them know about the new scheme and make clear that they will remain fully covered by their free licence until 31 May 2020.

The National Pensioners Convention (NPC) has also turned on the Government following the announcement, and condemned the BBC for attempting to frame the move as fair.

The BBC have said if they took on the cost of the free licenses, the extra cost would meant "unprecedented closures" across a number of channels.

The decision to scrap the blanket-fees follows a consultation with 190,000 people, where 52% were in favour of reforming or abolishing the free licences.

But The Intergenerational Foundation, which aims to improve intergenerational fairness, said: "There is simply no reason why retired judges, lawyers, bankers and doctors should receive a free TV licence when younger generations are struggling financially". Let us know how you feel about the decision by voting in our poll.

"We have been clear that we expected the BBC to continue this concession".

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