Culture

Free TV Licences for over-75s scrapped by the BBC

Free TV Licences for over-75s scrapped by the BBC”

A free TV Licence will only be available to households with someone aged over 75 who receives Pension Credit from June 2020, the BBC has announced. The decision does, however, prevent closures of services which would have been required had it copied the Government's scheme. It protects the poorest over 75s, while protecting the services that they, and all audiences, love.

We have to pay for a TV licence if we want to watch live TV, regardless of which channel it is, which a fair few people tend to be quite resentful of. It is one we can implement and endorse.

The elderly only started getting a free TV licence after a Labour government imitative to reduce poverty levels among pensioners, but since that programme was scrapped by Conservatives the BBC has been faced with the problem of footing the bill itself.

With the Liberal Democrats no longer in coalition, an uninhibited Tory government moved fast to impose new spending controls - hashing out a new settlement with the BBC director general, Tony Hall, in clandestine talks that lasted just a week. Whilst we know that pensioner incomes have improved since 2000, we also know that for some the TV Licence is a lot of money.

The BBC Board said it was the "fairest option to help the poorest pensioners". I believe we have reached the fairest judgment after weighing up all the different arguments.

BBC Chairman Sir David Clementi said: "Linking a free licence for over 75s to Pension Credit was the leading reform option".

The BBC has admitted that it's a hard decision to have made, but with the increasing number of elderly people in the United Kingdom, and the fact they're the ones who seem to be getting the most out of the BBC, it's been decided that it's not entirely fair for younger generations to subsidise elderly viewers.

From June 2020, around 3.7 million households which previously received a free licence will have to pay for one. It protects those most in need.

"The BBC's decision will cause those affected enormous anxiety and distress, and some anger too, but 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 for some of the most vulnerable older people in our society who will otherwise suffer a big blow to their pockets and to their quality of life".

A Downing Street spokesperson said May was "very disappointed" with the BBC's decision and urged the broadcaster to reconsider, with government sources highlighting the high pay of many BBC executives as a potential alternative saving. It means these services can continue.

Osborne's politically deft move was to shift not only the cost of the licence fees for the elderly on to the BBC but also, after a short while, the responsibility for deciding whether the benefit should exist at all.

The BBC's consultation was announced in November a year ago. It is vital that future decisions are evidence-based and made after proper consultation and scrutiny. As the first director-general, Lord Reith, put it: we're here to bring the best of everything "in every department of human knowledge, endeavour and achievement" to the greatest number of homes.

The BBC is making changes to its free TV licence scheme for over-75s.



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