- Over 75s risk losing their free TV licence in plans drawn up by the Government
- Conservatives have pulled funding to BBC for free TV licenses for over-75s
- Labour has challenged Government on manifesto promise in Commons chamber
Plymouth’s pensioners risk losing their free TV licence in Government plans. There are 5,000 households in receipt of a free TV licence in the constituency Luke represents who all stand to lose their TV licences if this cut goes ahead.
In 2000, the Labour Government introduced free TV licenses for over-75s, making the scheme available to all households with at least one resident who is over 75. In 2017, the Conservative manifesto committed to keep this running until 2022 but they have since decided to pull funding for the scheme and passed on the burden to the BBC leaving them to take up the £745m-a-year funding commitment.
The BBC opened a consultation in late 2018 to look at reforming the system with an option of scrapping the scheme altogether, which would stick over-75s with the license fee. Local MP Luke Pollard sent thousands of letters to older people in Plymouth urging them to take part in the BBC’s consultation and the response was clear: over 75s in Plymouth want to keep their free TV licence. With a decision from the BBC expected in June, Labour are calling on the Government to clarify whether they still stand by the promise they made to older people in 2017.
Luke Pollard MP said:
“Free TV licenses are vital for older people, helping to tackle social isolation and loneliness. In the area I represent, 5,170 households currently receive a free TV license. With four in ten older people saying television is their main source of company, the Government must not further isolate them by removing their access to free TV licenses.
“I know some pensioners can afford to pay for their TV license, but with poverty on the rise I fear that this change will impact thousands, with many already struggling with food or fuel bills. That’s why back in February I wrote to older people in Plymouth urging them to have their say in the BBC’s consultation. More than 100 older people in the constituency I represent have got in touch with me about this, concerned that they will not be able to pay the license fee if this Government manifesto u-turn goes ahead.
“We know there is widespread support for keeping this scheme open and running. The Government must come clean on whether they still support free TV licenses for over 75s, and whether they will keep their commitment to the scheme until 2022 or betray their commitment to thousands of older people in Plymouth.”