BBC to scrap free licence fee for millions of over-75s

10 June, 2019, 23:23 | Author: Cecil Buchanan
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Extraordinarily, the Conservatives' 2015 broken manifesto pledge to keep the licence fee free for over-75s was copied and pasted word for word into the party's 2017 general election manifesto.

"This has not been an easy decision", he said. "We want the BBC to look again at ways of supporting older people".

The BBC was forced to accept responsibility for funding the concession by George Osborne, chancellor of the exchequer during the last charter renewal negotiations. This was a point made by many and we listened and ruled abolition out.

"They are also making over £1 billion a year from commercial work, such as selling content overseas, which can be reinvested".

"Taxpayers want to see the BBC using its substantial licence fee income in an appropriate way to ensure it delivers for United Kingdom audiences". In 2020 it's estimated there will be around 4.6 million households eligible for the over-75s scheme. It is the Government who sets and controls that measure.

The deputy leader of the Labour Party Tom Watson branded the burden placed on pensioners an "outrage" and activists for the elderly warned that the move will directly impact the "sick and disabled".

Pensioners in Britain who have watched television programmes such as "Blue Planet" and "Doctor Who" for free will have to start paying after the publicly-funded BBC said it would scrap free licences for people over 75 years old.

BBC Chairman Sir David Clementi says: "The BBC has conducted the biggest and most wide-ranging consultation in its history. Millions of elderly and isolated people will lose because of this announcement".

"The BBC's decision will cause those affected enormous anxiety and distress, and some anger too".

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Licence fees were being reviewed by the BBC, with the full cost of concession due to be passed to the corporation from government in June 2020.

The BBC has announced it is to scrap free licence fees for over-75s.

Around 3.7 million pensioners will lose out, it is thought.

The new means-tested scheme is expected to cost £250 million a year.

The BBC said if it had to fund licences for all over-75s, it would have meant unprecedented closures, including the end of BBC Two, BBC Four, the BBC News Channel, the BBC Scotland channel, Radio 5 Live, and a number of local radio stations, as well as other cuts and reductions.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) branded the decision to means-test licence fees "a wrongheaded act of sabotage by a government", and urged the Government to take back responsibility for financing the benefit.

Age UK points out that many poor over-75s who are eligible to claim pension credit do not do so, because they are put off by the paperwork or refrain from applying on a point of pride.

BBC chairman David Clementi said: "While research suggests pensioners are now better off than they were when the concession was first introduced almost 20 years ago, the simple fact is that many are still in poverty - and many want the companionship the BBC can provide". "It's an absolute disgrace".

TV Licensing will develop a new "easier" pay as you go payment scheme especially for customers who will need to pay for their licence from June 2020.


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