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Charity calls for free TV licences to remain for over-75s

More than two million over-75s would have to go without television or cut back on essentials such as heating or eating if free TV licences are scrapped, a charity has warned.

Age UK said more than 40% of people over 75 would not be able to afford the licence or would have to cut back on essentials to pay for it, based on the results of its research.

Currently, households with people over 75 are entitled to a free TV licence.

But the Government-funded scheme, which is expected to cost £745 million by 2021-22, comes to an end in 2020 and it will be for the BBC to decide whether to continue it, and in what form it will exist.

Age UK found that of the 20% who said they could afford the TV licence but would have to cut back in other ways, a quarter (25%) said they would have to spend less on heating and 20% would have to cut back on food.

The cost of the licence is set to increase on April 1 from £150.50 to £154.50 a year.

The charity said its research indicated that 50,000 pensioners could be pushed below the poverty line if the BBC decides to scrap free TV licences.

The licence was a valued benefit for the over-75s, providing entertainment, news and company for many, it said.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “TV is a source of great pleasure and comfort to many of the oldest people in our society and it’s a crying shame that millions could soon be faced with choosing between cutting down on food and heating or paying to continue to enjoy it.

“The Government created this problem and it is in their power to solve it: we urge them to stop hiding behind the BBC and accept their responsibility for free TV licences for the over-75s.”

Strictly Come Dancing judge, Len Goodman, told the Mirror: “For some older people telly is their only companion. It’s what breaks the day up when they don’t see anyone and keeps them in touch with the news.

“TV provides entertainment and educational value for older people.

“For the chronically lonely TV must be a precious window to the modern world.

“So even hearing that they might have to pay for it will worry a lot of them.”

A Government spokesman said: “We know people across the country value television as a way to stay connected with the world. The BBC will take on responsibility for free licences for the over-75s from 2020 and it is right that they’ve confirmed no decisions will be taken until the public have been fully consulted.

“We’ve been clear that we would want and expect them to continue with this important concession.”

Kantar TNS surveyed 1,235 adults aged 65 and over in January.

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Tv licences should remain free for over 75s. I suffer with Bipolar, and I have long periods when I shut myself away from everyone. I don’t go out, don’t answer the door or telephone. I would be lost without my tv. It’s my only link with the outside world.
viking
11th Feb 2019
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As at to-day, it seems that there is some kind of vendetta between the Government and the BBC.,regarding the sum of £745,000,000 allegedly for pensioners TV licence [see my previous rant ].
Right now the first party to blink will be the winner/looser, watch the headlines for the result.
CaroleS43
11th Feb 2019
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I am an 80 year old widow and still pay income tax. My only income is Retirement Pension and a Civil Service Occupational Pension. I contributed to both during my working life. I know that there are many people of working age who do not pay income tax and are supported by taxpayers.
My husband died 2 years ago and I now live alone.
I would be reluctant to pay for a TV licence because many TV programs do not appeal to me, but I would still miss it.
Many older people need TV for the company. It would be awful to force the elderly to pay the licence fee as TV can be a lifeline for lonely people, some of whom are housebound. Let us hope that it continues to be free for the over 75s.
ElainePeony
10th Feb 2019
1
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Dreadful proposal, how mean to take away money like the TV license, the bus passes, the £200 fuel allowance and the £10 Xmas bonus. Just join up all these pathetic payments and means test...anyone who pays HMRC Tax does not get the money, those who don't get enough income to pay Income Tax get double money given to them, about £450.00 X 2= circa £900.00 added to their pensions monthly, so they can buy the TV license...or not...or buy their phone lines, etc, or eat or heat...
MEANS TEST these silly bitty payments that cost too much to administer, give to non Taxpaying pensioners in receipt of the State Pension instead.
1
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I have had to give my television up as I can't afford the licence for it as I am only getting 146.20 a fortnight to keep me and my bills have to be paid also food has to be bought as I am a diabetic and have to eat.
Veronsinge
8th Feb 2019
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Many would love to see the BBC become an independent entertainer as for far too long we have paid a license fee and have seen the quality of the programs become not fit for purpose.

As it seems to be politically correct and as a result, we have many presenters unable to present, and in many cases, we cannot understand what they say.

We require entertainment of quality for a change and the programs not according to the BBC.

A few hymns when the BBC decide to show us songs of praise is not a religious program but simply what the BBC wants to present.

My thoughts are, if the BBC is dedicated to charging us all a license fee then we require programs as to what we require and not as what the BBC sees fit to show us. called entertainment.

It is obvious we are in need of a BBC that serves what the public (and of all groups) require. Instead of the thoughts of it out of touch producers.

To charge again what we have subscribed too, over many years the BBC need to wake up to the real world of enterprise, and not assume that we are all morons and that we will pay again.

Sink or swim on your own efforts as we all have to in the UK as the BBC need the wake-up call to show us again what entertainment is.
Janbythesea
8th Feb 2019
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The licence could remain free for pensioners on low incomes such as those who receive pension credit, while pensioners with another private pension may well be able to afford to pay the fee.
viking
8th Feb 2019
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I just can not understand the arguement.
How and why is the free licence costing £ 745,000,000 ?
Trying to understand this it appears that this money was given to the BBC surely under the hidden cover for something else, but to clear it through the books and an audit was called "free TV licences for pensioners".
The word which is most significant is LICENCE, not operating costs of making programmes which is paid for by the other licence payers.
If the BBC has in fact never received any money so far from pensioners, how suddenly can it suddenly be put down as a loss to them.
The only conclusion that one can form from this is that £745,000,000 was/is a cash injection for something else.
CarolTbarton
8th Feb 2019
1
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It is disgusting taking away something they have given the older pensioners, ie the the TV licence. Gas, Electric and Water bills are going up much higher than our pension increases and now they want to take away our licence, bus passes and what next! Yet they want to give parents £2000 a year for child care for every child. Where is the logic! Our parents had to raise their children without any help whatsoever, but managed. Mind you they fed their children with proper food not burgers and pizzas and didn’t waste their money on things they do today to keep up with the Jones’s.
Lionel
14th Feb 2019
0
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Well said. Couldn't disagree with a single word.

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