Millions of older people across the country are set to lose their free TV licence in 2020 despite the Conservatives promising in their 2017 general election manifesto to protect free TV licences until 2022.
The Government has given the BBC responsibility for providing free licences for over 75s but not the funding to pay for it. Now free TV licences are set to be curtailed or cut completely from 2020.
The BBC are currently consulting on whether to:
(a) scrap free licences completely or
(b) raise the age threshold or
(c) means-test them (so that only those pensioners entitled to Pension Credit would receive one).
New figures produced by the House of Commons Library show that whichever option is chosen, millions of pensioners will lose their free licences, including more than 5,000 households here in Nottingham South.
If the age threshold is raised to 80, 1,680 local pensioners will lose their TV licence. If free TV licences are means-tested 3,810 will lose their free licences
Too many older people are lonely and isolated. The Campaign to End Loneliness found that 40% of older people say their television is their main source of company.
I am completely opposed to scrapping the free licences altogether, raising the age threshold or means-testing them. I believe free TV licences for the over 75s should be funded as the Government promised they would be.
What you can do
You can tell the BBC what you think of their plans. The deadline to do this is 12th February 2019. There are a number of ways you can contribute:
- You can go online to https://www.bbc.com/yoursay/, and fill out the online survey.
- Call 0800 232 1382 to request a paper copy of the questionnaire and freepost envelope. Paper copies are also available in different formats, including in Braille and in an audio version.
- If it is not possible to respond using a questionnaire, you can write to the BBC at the address Freepost, BBC Consultation.
If you do not want to contribute to the BBC’s consultation, there are other ways you can have your say:
- Age UK have started a petition to save free TV for older people. So far it has over 40,000 signatures. You can add yours by going online here www.ageuk.org.uk/our-impact/campaigning/save-free-tv-for-older-people/, or write to Age UK for free at Freepost, Age UK Campaigns stating “I would like to add my name to Age UK’s Save Free TV for Older People petition”.
- You can get in touch with me to let me know your thoughts. You can write to me at Lilian Greenwood MP, 12 Regent St, Nottingham NG1 5BQ or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Tory Government needs to come clean and to tell us urgently what they are going to do to ensure free TV licences aren’t cut and they don’t break their manifesto promise.
If they do nothing, responsibility for older people losing their TV licences will rest firmly at their feet.