TV license fee row: Pensioners at risk from 'cruel' removal of free over-75s BBC licence
Feb. 17, 2020
THE OVER 75s FREE LICENCE removal is posing a serious threat to the livelihoods of pensioners who could find the loss of the benefit not only affecting their monetary funds but their health too.
The over 75s free licence fee removal will be “really, really cruel”, warned the National Pensioners Convention (NPC). Jan Shortt, the general secretary for the NPC, told Express.co.uk removing the benefit would “condemn” pensioners to a “life of loneliness and depression”. The NPC is calling on Boris Johnson to keep his pre-election promise and retain the universal benefit for over 75s.
Ms Shortt told Express.co.uk: “I can say no, without any shadow of a out, that someone who is not part of a family, because they don’t have a family or their family’s moved away, doesn’t have friends because all their friends might have passed away, doesn’t see anybody sometimes for weeks on end, isn’t very well and cannot get out of the house.
“That television or their radio, and now most televisions have radios included, that is their lifeline, that is how they find out what is going on in the world and how they keep contact.
“We have people who say that they get up in the morning not feeling very well and then will sit down in front of the television, watch a programme and feel themselves becoming much calmer.
“Not feeling well, but feeling a little better.”
She continued: “That little box in the corner of the room is more than a box, it is that window that people watch and take information. It helps them to relax and not feel so bad.
“You take that away and you are condemning people to a life of loneliness and depression and heaven knows what in terms of ill and health.
“£154 doesn’t seem a lot, but when you don’t have it and you’re having to pay other bills that keep on rising, your rent, your mortgage, your fuel bills keep rising, there’s a limit to what you can buy without fixed income.
“To take that away from someone who is 75+, into their 80s and 90s, is really really cruel.”
The pension campaigner added: “This is a generation that has done everything they were asked to and more, and they’re treated like they’re a drain on society.
“This is a generation that has provided this country with workers of the future, has paid their way, has worked hard, has made their commitment to the country.
“And when they did everything they were told to, saved for old age, pay this, pay that, they get to old age and see everything they’ve ever worked for taken away.”
The universal refit was first introduced in 1999.
However, the clock is now ticking down to the May 31 deadline when it will be repealed.
The Prime Minister is on record as saying it was “crucial” to retain the benefit and he aimed to thrash out a new funding formula with the BBC, who were passed the £745 million bill for the benefit by the Government.
The BBC says it cannot afford to fund all free licences for over 75s and plans to means-test older people by giving it only to those who receive Pension Credit.
The NPC strongly believes the Government, not the BBC, have responsibility for funding the free over 75s licence as part of a wider package of universal pensioner benefits in lieu of a decent state pension.
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