20 years ago I led a campaign to provide free TV licence’s to pensioners to help tackle pensioner poverty. In the year 2000 the Labour Government agreed to begin funding free TV licences for the over-75s.
Now thousands of Bolton North East residents and millions more across the country are set to lose their right to a free TV licence in 2020. This is despite the Conservatives promising in their 2017 general election manifesto to protect the free TV licences.
The Government used to pay the BBC the cost of a license for everyone over 75. Now they have chosen to hand responsibility for funding the scheme to the BBC, which would have cost 20% of the existing BBC budget, so now the BBC have restricted the scheme to people in receipt of Pension Credit.
The House of Commons Library calculated that over 3 million people will lose their free licence, including 5920 households in Bolton North East.
It could be even more than that, as huge numbers of the poorest pensioners don’t receive the Pension Credit that they are entitled to and these people would also miss out on a free license. https://www.davidcrausby.co.uk/blog/2019/07/31/thousands-of-the-poorest-pensioners-missing-our-on-support-they-are-entitled-to/
We have a new set of Government Ministers since this decision was taken and they should start by listening to people’s concerns and end this ridiculous sub-contracting of social security policy. They need to take responsibility and restore the funding for the free licenses.
I have signed a Motion in Parliament calling for the universal exemption for over-75s to be resumed. https://edm.parliament.uk/early-day-motion/53021/bbc-television-licence-fees
I’d also like to thank Age UK for their efforts on this. They recently handed a petition with 634,334 names to 10 Downing Street to add further pressure on the new Prime Minister. https://www.ageuk.org.uk/our-impact/campaigning/save-free-tv-for-older-people/