I share people’s concerns following the BBC’s announcement that TV licences will be means-tested, from June 2020, by linking them to Pension Credit, writes Sir Kevin Barron MP.
As a result, up to 3.7 million older people – 1.6 million of whom live completely alone – are set to lose their free TV licences.
The Government is blaming the BBC, but public broadcasters should never be responsible for social policy.
The free TV licence is an important benefit for pensioners, who suffer dispropor-tionately from loneliness and social isolation.
Millions of older people will now have to pay to keep the little company they do have.
I am alarmed by Age UK’s analysis which shows that scrapping the free TV licence could push 50,000 pensioners below the poverty line.
Taking free TV licences away will also leave many older people feeling isolated and alone.
The current Government was elected on a manifesto which promised to maintain free TV licences for the over-75s throughout this Parliament.
On May 8, the House of Commons expressed – unopposed – its belief that the commitment to maintain free TV licences should be honoured.
By overseeing the scrapping of free TV licences for the over-75s, the Government has delivered another welfare cut to some of the most vulnerable in our society.
This is a betrayal of older citizens, who deserve dignity in retirement and reward for their hard work.
I fully agree that the new Prime Minister should ensure the Government takes back responsibility for maintaining the free licence.
Unfortunately, however, he has indicated there will be no change in approach.
I will continue to press the Government to step in and fund free TV licences for the over-75s.