End of free TV licences to cost Stroud older people £1.1million a year.
New research shows that changes to TV licenses will affect more than 7,670 people in Stroud, costing them more than £1.1 million combined
Research from the Labour Party shows that changes to free TV licences to over-75s will cost pensioners in Stroud over a million pounds a year combined – money which will go straight to the Treasury’s coffers.
David Drew, MP for Stroud, is concerned about the impact this could have on vulnerable elderly people.
“If these plans go ahead, people over the age of 75 in our community will pay a combined total of over a million pounds a year.
“Free TV licences are an important tool in the battle against loneliness and social isolation. Sadly four in ten older people say the television is their main source of company.
This comes as the BBC’s consultation on the future of free TV Licences for over-75s closes tomorrow, Tuesday 12 February. Millions of older people across the country could lose their TV licence in 2020 despite the Conservatives’ 2017 Manifesto promise to protect free TV licences until 2022.
As part of the last BBC Charter, the Government devolved responsibility for the free TV licence policy, and the cost, to the BBC.
New research by the Labour Party shows the total combined cost for older people in this area of each of the BBC’s scenarios for the future of the TV licence concession.
If free TV licences are scrapped completely, this will cost over-75s in Stroud a combined total of £1,154, 335 a year
If the age threshold is raised to 80, local over-75s will pay a combined total £442,470 a year.
If free TV licences are linked to Pension Credit, altogether our oldest citizens will pay a total of £960,190 a year.
By outsourcing responsibility for paying for free TV licences, this Government will be saving £745 million across the UK in 2021/22. This is in addition to the £220 million the Government will be saving that same year through changes to pension credit. This money, nearly a billion pounds, is coming directly out of the pockets of pensioners.
The prospect of elderly people losing their free TV licences makes a mockery of Theresa May’s claim that austerity is over. The Government should take responsibility and save TV licences for the elderly.
David Drew MP for Stroud said:
“This Government has broken its manifesto promise to keep free TV licences until 2022, and now millions of elderly people are facing losing their free TV licences.
“This is yet another Tory policy that punishes pensioners. Through scrapping free TV licences and changing pension credit alone, this Government would offload almost a billion pounds of costs onto our oldest citizens in a single year.
“This Tory Government is picking pensioners’ pockets. Labour is calling on the Government to urgently reconsider and save free TV licences for over-75s.”
The BBC’s consultation on the future of TV licence concession will be closing tomorrow, 12 February 2019: https://www.bbc.com/yoursay/consultation.pdf
Currently a free TV licence is available to all households that have at least one person aged over 75. Free TV licences for over-75s were introduced in 2000 by the Labour Government.
The 2017 Conservative Manifesto promised to “maintain all other pensioner benefits, including free bus passes, eye tests, prescriptions and TV licences, for the duration of this Parliament”.
However, the Government had already outsourced this social policy by shifting the cost of these licences to the BBC in its 2015 Royal Charter.
From 2018/19 onwards, responsibility for the policy and funding of licence fee concessions will move over to the BBC, who will be singularly responsible from June 2020.
The BBC can decide what to do with the benefit from 2020 and they are consulting on a number of options including scrapping the free TV licence concession altogether, raising the eligible age to 80 and means testing it, for example by linking it to pension credit.
Labour opposed this move at the time, and throughout the passage of the Digital Economy Act.
The cost of the free licences is expected to reach £745m by 2021/22. Changes to pension credit for mixed age couples will save the Treasury £220m in the same year.
Free TV licences are an important benefit for older people who suffer disproportionately from loneliness and social isolation. The Campaign to End Loneliness found that 40% of older people say their television is their main source of company.
Age UK has found that over two million over-75s would have to go without TV or cut back on essentials such as heating or eating if the concession is scrapped, and the change would push 50,000 pensioners below the poverty line.
1.6 million over-75s with a disability, many of whom have serious mobility issues and may not be easily able to leave their homes, could lose their TV licence if the benefit is scrapped altogether.