Luke Pollard MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport has sent out thousands of letters to older people in Plymouth raising awareness about a consultation about TV licences.
Free TV licences for over 75s were introduced in 2000 and, currently, a free TV licence is available to all households that have at least one person aged over 75 living there.
The Government promised that people over 75 would continue to receive free TV licences until the end of this Parliament in 2022. However, the Government has now pulled its funding for free licences for over 75s, so the BBC has opened a consultation on whether it should start charging for them, which means that the scheme could be curtailed, or scrapped entirely.
The consultation will run until 12 February 2019 to decide what, if any, concession should be available for over 75s after June 2020.
Several potential options are being proposed, including:
- To require older people to pay a licence fee, but at a reduced rate;
- To raise the age threshold for the concession;
- To means-test the concession for older people.
Luke Pollard MP said:
“In the area I represent, 5,170 households currently receive a free television licence, of which 3,200 households have someone who is aged over 80 years living there. If the qualifying age was raised to 80 years, 1,970 (38%) of those households would lose their free TV licence. If the concession was means-tested and linked to Pension Credit, 3,580 (69%) of those households would lose their free TV licence.
“I believe that free TV licences are an important tool in the battle against loneliness and social isolation. Four in 10 older people say the television is their main source of company. Christmas is a particularly bad time for loneliness – analysis by Age UK found that almost a million (873,000) pensioners wouldn’t have seen or heard from anyone over the festive period. Age UK has warned that scrapping the free licence could push some pensioners into poverty, forcing them to cut back on food or fuel to pay for the licence.
“I know some pensioners will be able to afford a TV licence, but I also know many will not. The Government claims that austerity over but changes like this will affect thousands of people, most of whom are on fixed incomes. I believe that the free TV licence for over 75s should remain and that the Government should step in and save TV licences for older people.”
On 4th February, Luke Pollard supported a motion tabled by Jeremy Corbyn MP to guarantee the maintenance of free TV licences for over-75s beyond 2020. The EDM can be found here: https://edm.parliament.uk/early-day-motion/52541/tv-licences-for-over75s
If you would like to give your views to the BBC and take part in the consultation you can find it on the Internet here: https://www.bbc.com/yoursay or call the BBC on 0800 232 1382.