The Labour Government introduced the free tv licence for the over-75s when Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer produced a ‘budget that unites the whole country’ and ‘offers stability and security for all.’
Fifteen years later, the Tory’s Chancellor, George Osborne cut £650m from the BBC’s budget, transferred the responsibility for the over-75s licence fee directly to the BBC as he met Rupert Murdoch before the announcement in June 2015.
This sleight of hand was to fund £12bn of benefit cuts mainly from the Department of Work and Pensions – the DWP funded the over-75s free TV licence.
Following a consultation the BBC concluded that the current scheme will end and from 1 June 2020, a free TV licence will only be available to a household with someone aged over 75 who receives pension credit.
Age UK has launched a petition stating:
“For over a million of our oldest citizens the TV is their constant companion and window on the world. And now it’s under threat.”
“The BBC has announced they will means test free TV licences from the over-75s. Means-testing may sound fair but in reality it means at least 650,000 of our poorest pensioners facing a big new annual bill they simply can’t afford. But this is really the Government’s doing. They pushed the scheme onto the BBC without asking any of us what we think or providing the funding to sustain it.”
Age UK are calling for the Government to take back responsibility for the free TV licences for the over 75s. Your can sign the petition here.
On Friday, 21st June 2019 a protest was held outside the BBC in Portland Place, London where trade unionists, pensioner groups and their supporters held a rally demanding “Don’t switch us off” and they marched to Oxford Circus causing traffic chaos in the capital. Buses, taxis and pedestrians signalled their support for the pensioners.