Thousands set to lose out as BBC scrap free licence fee for some over 75s - The Evesham Observer

Thousands set to lose out as BBC scrap free licence fee for some over 75s

Evesham Editorial 15th Jun, 2019   0

MORE THAN 14,000 pensioners across Evesham and Pershore look set to lose their free TV licence after the BBC revealed plans to strip the benefit from millions of over 75s.

The corporation revealed on Monday (June 11) only those in receipt of Pension Credit would be entitled to a free licence from next year.

It means an estimated 6,380 households in Mid Worcestershire which includes Evesham and a further 7,310 in West Worcestershire, which includes Pershore, will be forced to fork out the £154.50 fee, according to figures from the House of Commons library.

TV licences have been free for over 75s since 2000 but responsibility for the policy and the cost of them has been passed to the BBC from the Government from June 2020, as part of the corporation’s latest charter.

BBC chiefs have revealed the scheme is expected to cost £745million in 2021/22. During a consultation last year the broadcaster said retaining the policy would cost a fifth of its budget – equivalent to what it spends on all of BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC Four, the BBC News Channel, CBBC and CBeebies.

Chairman Sir David Clementi said the BBC board were against the idea of abolishing the scheme completely

“While research suggests pensioners are now better off than they were when the concession was first introduced nearly 20 years ago, the simple fact is that many are still in poverty – and many want the companionship the BBC can provide,” he said.

“A significant number thought the Government should continue to fund it – an option not open to the BBC. The Government could of course choose to step in and close the gap from their own resources.

“Linking a free licence for over 75s to Pension Credit was the leading reform option. It protects the poorest over 75s, while protecting the services they, and all audiences, love.”

However, Caroline Abrahams, charity Director at Age UK said the announcement would lead to some elderly people giving up their ‘cherished’ TV.

“The BBC’s decision will cause those affected enormous anxiety and distress, and some anger too, but in the end this is the Government’s fault, not the BBC’s,” she said.

“It’s open to a new Prime Minister to intervene and save the day for some of the most vulnerable older people in our society who will otherwise suffer a big blow to their pockets and to their quality of life.

“The decent thing for the Government to do is to continue to fund the entitlement until the BBC’s overall funding deal comes up for negotiation in 2022.

“This would be warmly welcomed by our older population as a much fairer way to proceed,” she added.

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