Yesterday the BBC announced that free TV licenses for over-75s will be scrapped and linked to a means-tested benefit instead. Three million older people will directly lose out, including 3,980 people in our community in Hove and Portslade.
The entitlement for the free license will now be limited to over-75s who can prove they claim Pension Credit, but it’s very concerning that an estimated 1.3 million poorer older people do not claim the benefit despite being eligible. They stand to lose their free TV licences under the new system.
This is another Tory welfare cut, this time targeting our pensioners. With social care and local government budgets cut to the bone, many older people are forced to spend a lot of time alone in their homes, and 40% of older people say the television is their main source of company.
It’s a scandal that the Government are trying to offload the responsibility for this vital welfare support to the BBC, and it can’t be right that in the midst of a real loneliness epidemic, the Government are taking heartless decisions that will actively make the situation worse.
Nationally this will impact 3 million older people and as an added insult it comes in the week where Boris Johnson has championed tax cuts for the rich.
My Labour colleagues and I will be fighting this with everything we’ve got. In May this year we passed a motion in Parliament which stated that any changes to the existing TV licence concession rules must be subject to Parliamentary consent, and we’ll be doing everything we can to make sure that motion is upheld.