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Call for UK Government to take back control of free TV licenses

The UK Government have been urged to take back control of the funding for free TV licenses for over-75s after the recent announcement from the BBC that they are to be scrapped.

The announcement comes a year after the UK Government stopped funding the scheme despite running on a manifesto promising to maintain pensioner benefits.

In a letter to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Stewart Hosie, the MP for Dundee East, outlined his concerns over the change and possibility of pensioners now having to make the difficult choice between "essentials, like food and heating, and their window to the world".

In his letter to Jeremy Wright MP, Mr Hosie pointed out that "This change, though made by the BBC, is entirely the fault of the UK Government for ending the funding of free TV Licenses for over-75s last year" before urging the Government to take the issue back into their hands to ensure low income and vulnerable pensioners don't have to go without.

As of June 2020 3.7 million pensioners, including 8,498 people in Dundee East, will have to pay for their TV license with only households with at least one claimant of pension benefit remaining exempt from the fee. UK Government estimates however show that nearly 1.2 million pensioners who are entitled to pension credit do not actually receive it which charity Age UK put down to people either not knowing how to apply or not knowing they are even entitled to the benefit.

Mr Hosie's letter to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Wright MP.

Commenting Stewart Hosie MP said:

"This is a devastating blow and I find it appalling, especially after the years of hardship that elderly people have been made to endure under this Conservative Government, that free TV licenses for the over-75s are to be stopped."

"Means-testing for this, when there are over 1 million people entitled to Pension Credit that don't receive it, simply won't work and will force those on the lowest incomes to choose between essentials and, for many people, their only source of companionship and entertainment."

"The UK Government should prove austerity is over by taking this back into Government hands and reinstating free TV licenses for the over-75s."


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