Pensioners urged to check credit entitlement after BBC scrap free over-75 TV licence scheme

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

As part of our rallying call to the Government to reinstate the free TV licences for over-75s, we have spoken figures in the community concerned with the elderly and their welfare.

Alan Stewart, Secretary at Scarborough and District Older People’s Forum, has stated that "it is important for pensioners to check to see if they are entitled to claim the Pension Credit - even if it is only a small amount."

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.

This means that more than 8,500 households in our borough will lose their access to free TV licences under the new plans.

READ MORE: TV licence fee: 'The most vulnerable people in our society will suffer,' says Scarborough Age UK CEO
Mr Stewart added: "Our members where not very happy when the BBC made its decision known that next year the free licence for pensioners over 75 will be scraped apart from the people claiming pension credit.

"The membership made its voice known by joining a petition from the N.P.C.(National Pensioners Convention). I have now joined the Daily Mirror petition for the decision to be reversed and asked members to sign up to one in their daily paper I get the impression from Scarborough pensioners they all feel the same way.

"Some of our members are worried that if this is carried out the government will look at other pensioners concessions."

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.

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.”