I have been contacted by several constituents regarding the BBC’s decision to end the free TV licence for over 75s, and I know that my constituents have concerns about this.
I find the BBC’s decision to stop funding free TV licences for most over 75s disappointing.
It’s important to note that this was the BBC’s decision, after Parliament legislated to give the BBC the full responsibility from 2020. This was part of a deal the Government reached with the BBC over four years ago, which the BBC described as a good deal that provided financial stability to the organisation through inflation linked increases of the licence fee and the closure of the so-called iPlayer loophole.
The BBC chose to delay implementing its decision to stop funding free TV licences for over 75s from June to August. It is deeply disappointing that they have announced they will be going ahead with the decision from August. In light of the restrictions placed on society because of coronavirus, I am aware that this decision will have an impact on many of our most vulnerable members of society.
For most of us, television is an important connection with the outside world that informs and entertains. It also has a role in keeping people company, and this can be especially true for older people. I know from my own relatives and constituents just how important television is in their lives. This is why I was disappointed that the BBC announced the most narrowly defined option for reform of the over 75s concession.
As you will be aware, even under the BBC’s current plans, the poorest pensioners will continue to be helped, as the BBC stated that those eligible for Pension Credit will still receive a free TV licence. I understand that currently, not everyone who is eligible for pension credit is claiming it but constituents who believe they may be eligible should look on www.gov.uk/pension-credit-calculator to check and get an estimate of what they may receive, and people wishing to claim Pension Credit can also do so by calling 0800 99 1234.
I know that this is not the result that many of us wanted, but I do not believe this is the end of the conversation about what the BBC can do to assist older people.
Thank you again for those who raised their concerns with me.