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The UK Government are solely to blame for the fact that thousands of elderly Scots will now be forced to pay for their own TV licence according to Stewart Hosie.

The Dundee East MP accused the UK Government of "breathtaking buck-passing" as they consistently attempt to shift the blame onto the BBC for the decision to end free licences for over-75s.

The BBC announced in June, following the UK Government's decision in 2015 to discontinue funding for the scheme, that free licences would end as of June 2020 with only households with at least one claimant of pension credit remaining exempt from the fee.

Mr Hosie outlined his concerns surrounding the decision to the UK Government last month.

In a letter to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Mr Hosie said:

"This change, though made by the BBC, is entirely the fault of the UK Government for ending the funding for free licences for over-75s last year. After the years of hardship that our elderly people have had to endure they should not then be told, months after the Prime Minister declared the end of austerity that they will now need to pay for their own licences."

"I am therefore urging you to reconsider the funding of free TV licences for over-75s. Take this back into Government hands and ensure that our elderly grandparents, parents, friends and neighbours aren't stripped of this vital benefit."

The decision means that 3.7 million pensioners, including 8,498 people in Dundee East, will now have to pay for their TV licence.

The means testing of the benefit has been criticised by many including charity Age UK who estimate that nearly 1.2 million pensioners who are entitled to pension credit do not actually receive it, something the charity puts down to people either not knowing how to apply or not knowing they are even entitled to the benefit.

In his response to Mr Hosie the DCMS Secretary of State said:

"The Government is disappointed with this decision as it has been clear that it wants and expects the BBC to continue this concession."

Commenting Stewart Hosie MP said:

"While I am, of course, disappointed in the BBC for ending this scheme we cannot for one second forget that this is entirely the fault of the UK Government who were warned that this would happen at the time."

"The breathtaking buck-passing from the Secretary of State in response to my letter is just ridiculous. It is a fact that if the UK Government hadn't passed responsibility of the funding over to the BBC we wouldn't be in this position and millions of pensioners wouldn't need to worry over yet another expense."

"Failing to continue funding for many senior citizen's only window to the rest of the world makes it clear that this callous Tory Government is failing older people."

"The UK Government must take this concession back into public hands and help lift pensioners out of poverty by ensuring they are receiving the money they are due."



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