Government should pay TV licence for over-75s, according to three-quarters of voters polled in survey

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10th July 2019 17:29 - Central Government

Government should pay TV licence for over-75s, according to three-quarters of voters polled in survey: A survey by charity, Age UK has found that three-quarters of respondents believe that the Government should take back responsibility for paying the licence fee for pensioners over the age of 75 - and not the BBC.

The figure was even higher among those respondents affected (75+) at 92%.

The charity is calling on Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt to honour the pledge made by the Conservatives in the party's 2017 general election manifesto to maintain free TV licences for the duration of parliament. This would mean free TV licences would be secured for the over-75s up until 2022.

More than four-fifths of respondents polled in the survey said that the Conservative Party should honour its manifesto promise, with 98% of those who are affected (over-75s) agreeing.

The survey also showed that for 38% of elderly people – over a million over the age of 75 – the TV is their main source of company.

As it stands, after being introduced in 2000, TV licences for the over 75s will stop being funded by the Government next year, with responsibility transferred to the BBC.

Last month the BBC announced its plans to means test TV licences from June 2020, which will mean  that only pensioners 75+ in receipt of Pension Credit will be entitled to the perk. Age UK says that the move could affect some of the poorest pensioners, many of whom do not receive the benefit.

BBC Chairman Sir David Clementi said of the plans outlined by the BBC:

"Copying the current scheme was ultimately untenable. It would have cost £745 million a year by 2021/22 - and risen to over one billion by the end of the next decade. £745 million a year is equivalent to around a fifth of the BBC’s spending on services.”

Earlier in the year, Age UK research found that 40% of people aged over 75 would not be able to afford the cost of a TV licence if it were stopped, or would have to cut back on essentials in order to buy one.

Of those who felt they could afford the TV licence if they cut back on essentials, 25% they would cut back on heating, while 20% said they would make cutbacks on food.

The research found that 29% of 75+ pensioners are living in poverty or marginally above the poverty line, with Age UK saying that having to pay out for TV licence - currently £154.50 a year - could see 50,000 more pensioners fall below the poverty line.

An online petition by the charity titled Switched Off: Save Free TV for Older People currently has more than 600,000 signatures.

Charity director of Age UK, Caroline Abrahams said:

"Our research shows that the next Prime Minister will find himself on the wrong side of public opinion, unless he agrees to abide by the manifesto commitment his Party made to keep funding TV licences for the over-75s."



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