We call on the BBC to reverse controversial plan to force elderly residents to pay to watch their TV

rule change: The BBC has scrapped the government-funded free over-75 TV Licence scheme.
rule change: The BBC has scrapped the government-funded free over-75 TV Licence scheme.

Today we are issuing a rallying call to our Government to reinstate the free TV licences for over-75s.

The decision to slash free TV licences for more than three million pensioners has been widely criticised, and was described by Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff as an “absolute outrage”.

The Reporter Series and Batley News, with our sister titles across the North, is calling on the government to work with the BBC and reassure over-75s that they will still be entitled to free TV.

Office for National Statistics data estimates that in 2016 there were 23,369 households in Kirklees with at least one resident aged 75 or older.

Last week, the BBC announced that the government funded, free over-75 TV Licence scheme would be replaced next year.

From Monday, June 1, 2020, free TV licences will be means tested, and only households where one person receives pension credit will qualify.

Up to 3.7 million pensioners who have received a free licence in the past will now be expected to pay more than £150 a year for access to TV.

The decision has drawn criticism from the public, and more than 550,000 people have signed a petition, started by Age UK, calling on the government to reinstate the licence. The decision has been slammed by the region’s MP’s, who have described the decision as ‘cruel’ and ‘deeply unfair’.

Your Batley News and Reporter Series is calling on the government to reinstate the free TV licence for all over-75s.

For the older population, many of whom cannot leave home, or do not have anyone to spend time with, TV is more than just background noise.

According to the Campaign to End Loneliness, almost half of pensioners rely on their TV as their main source of companionship. Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK said: “Make no mistake, if this scheme goes ahead we are going to see sick and disabled people in their eighties and nineties who are completely dependent on their cherished TV for companionship and news, forced to give it up.

“Means-testing may sound fair but in reality it means at least 650,000 of our poorest pensioners facing a big new annual bill they simply can’t afford, because though eligible for Pension Credit they don’t actually get it.

“In the end this is the Government’s fault, not the BBC’s, and it is open to a new Prime Minister to intervene and save the day.”