BBC rejects PM’s plea to ‘cough up’ on TV licences for over-75s
MILLIONS of pensioners are “piggy in the middle” as the Government and BBC refuse to budge over the scrapping of free TV licences for the elderly, a charity said last night.
Over-75s will be made to pay £154.50 next year after the BBC said it could not afford to keep the concession, despite being told to by the Prime Minister.
The broadcaster blames the Government while Boris Johnson insisted the corporation has enough cash to ensure the perk continues.
But while they pass the buck millions of OAPs – including 907,210 veterans – face the prospect of paying for the first time in two decades or risk a heavy fine or imprisonment.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “It’s hugely regrettable our older population is piggy in the middle in the escalating row.
“It is also really clear to us that the BBC’s plan to means-test free licences from next June cannot go ahead. If it does we know hundreds of thousands will miss out on a free licence, even though they’re on a low income, because they won’t be receiving the qualifying benefit – Pension Credit. The result will be that some very vulnerable older people will have to choose between economising on food and heating or giving up their cherished TV. It’s time the BBC and the Government sat down and sorted this out between them. The public is overwhelmingly in support of free licences continuing for over-75s.”
Under current arrangements all over Today’s 75s are eligible for a free TV licence. But from June 1 only those in receipt of Pension Credit will be able to get one when the benefit is means-tested.
Overall 80 per cent of the elderly who rely on the perk – around 3.7million people – will lose the concession. Nineteen per cent of those aged 75 or over currently receive Pension Credit, around 1,046,833 people.