Free TV Licence: Boris Johnson pressured to restore support to over 75s
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TV licence payments are required for all Britons who are watching television, even if they decide not to watch the BBC. In August 2020, it was decided the free TV licence entitlement for over 75s would end, except for those on Pension Credit. However, the decision did bring with it some level of controversy, particularly from those who are now required to pay.
Now, a new petition is calling for the government to honour a pledge laid out in the Conservative manifesto to protect the benefit until 2022 at the least.
The petition is simply entitled: “Take back responsibility for funding free licences for over 75s from the BBC”.
It has called for change to the current situation on the TV licence to ensure Britons are supported.
The petition read: “The BBC has proved incapable of managing and funding the concessionary licence scheme for the over 75s.
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“It axed the scheme, ignored mass protests and has no democratic accountability.
“Government should be politically accountable for benefits, not a media company. Take back control.”
The petition has already garnered a significant amount of support, with 4,492 signatures at the time of writing.
It continued: “Over one million over 75s’ households are either refusing, or are unable, to pay to £157.50 fee.
“Many will have to choose between heating, food and their constant companion: the TV.
“Poverty and loneliness will increase among older people as a result of this cruel policy.”
The petition also accused the government and the BBC of breaking their “pledges” to Britons.
If the petition reaches 10,000 signatures, the government will be required to issue a formal response.
Petitions which climb above 100,000 signatures will be considered for debate in Parliament.
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Currently, pensioners will be able to receive a free licence if:
- they are 75 years of age or older and
- they, or their partner who lives at the same address, is in receipt of Pension Credit
Pension Credit is commonly referred to as a ‘gateway benefit’ as it allows access to the free TV Licence, as well as council tax and other financial support.
It is an income-related benefit which assists in helping pensioners to bring their weekly income up.
It is made up of two parts – Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit – with amounts differing dependent on a person’s circumstances.
Single people will get a Guarantee Credit top-up to £173.75 per week, and up to £13.97 in Savings Credit weekly.
Couples will receive a top-up under Guarantee Credit to £265.20, and up to £15.62 in Savings Credit.
For those who meet the current eligibility criteria, applying for a free TV licence is intended to be an easy process.
Britons are encouraged to visit the TV Licensing website to start their application.
Those who are not eligible for a free licence may also need to start their new licence or renew their payments online.
A Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “The government was disappointed with the BBC’s decision to restrict the over-75 licence fee concession to only those in receipt of pension credit.
“We recognise the value of free TV licences for over-75s and the corporation must look at how it uses its substantial licence fee income to support older people.”
The BBC told Express.co.uk the decision to remove free TV licences for the over 75s was taken by the government, and not the BBC.
It said: “A properly-funded BBC to will continue to support and provide companionship to pensioners, but we must and will do the same for licence holders of all ages across the UK.”
Continuing with the licence fee concession for all over 75s, the broadcasting corporation stated, would have cost £745million a year, rising to £1billion by the end of the decade.
This, it said, would have meant the closure of BBC Two, BBC Four, the BBC News Channel, the BBC Scotland channel, Radio 5live and 5Live Sports Extra, and a number of local radio stations.
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