THE BBC has today announced plans to end its free tv licence for those aged over 75.
Pensioners will be asked to pay £157.50 for an annual licence to watch television as of Saturday 1 August 2020.
Age UK has said that they are ‘bitterly disappointed’ by the decision and it is ‘a kick in the teeth for millions of over 75s who have had a torrid time during this crisis’.
Caroline Abrahams, Age UK Charity Director said:
“We know from talking to older people that many are feeling anxious and depressed, and frightened about what the future may hold in terms of the virus.
“This is particularly the case for all those who are alone, for whom their TV is more of a lifeline than ever.”
Charity Today editor Lee Rayment said:
“The truth is the government removed the funding for the over-75s, the BBC subsequently ends the concession and people then blame the BBC. They have both had a part to play in this poor decision.”
Lord Foulkes, who is also chair of the All-Party Group for Ageing and Older People, said Boris Johnson must now cover the cost of the charges for the elderly. He said:
“I am absolutely outraged by the BBC’s decision to end free TV licences for over-75s.
“Not only has this decision been dragged out for too long, but it now means that lonely pensioners are being dealt a dreadful, perhaps even deadly, blow.
“So many lonely old people will continue to be confined to their homes for many months and rely on their TV as a vital lifeline for information, connectivity and entertainment.
“BBC fatcats are so out of touch with the reality of older people, who will likely have to cut back on food and heating if they want to keep their TV and stay connected with the outside world.
“They should be utterly ashamed of this decision. However, we will not stop in our campaign to save what is a vital social benefit.
“The ball is now very much in the Government’s court and it must step in and take action to fund this social welfare measure.”
The decision comes as the government is set to announce its response to a consultation on decriminalising licence fee evasion.
It launched an eight-week consultation in February, which received more than 100,000 responses.
A report in May suggested that hundreds of people had opted to cancel their TV licence each day over the past five months.