Scrapping free tv license for elderly sparks anger among community

Rupanjana Dutta Wednesday 13th February 2019 15:22 EST

BBC's consultation on scrapping the free tv licenses, has sparked anger and disappointment among elderly over 75 year, who now may have to pay more than hundreds of thousands of pounds a year combined, to watch television.

Millions of older people across the country could lose their TV licence in 2020 despite the Conservatives’ 2017 Manifesto promise to protect free TV licences until 2022. As part of the last BBC Charter, the Government devolved responsibility for the free TV licence policy, and the cost, to the BBC.

75 year old Hrishikesh Bhukta told Asian Voice, “My children live in the US. I do community work, help underprivileged children with studies. My wife and I have friends and extended family in London. But the television is our day long companion.

“We both worked and have paid taxes all our life. Today we live on our pensions- which barely keep us afloat. How does the government think 75 year olds will cough up £150 per year to just stay relevant?”

77 year old Janaki Nene lives alone. She lost her 84 year old husband Amrish last year. Recently widowed, Nene depends a lot on regular television soaps to keep herself engaged. “My husband and I did many things together. Even if we weren't going out, we were at least kept each other company. My daughter lives away- she has her own family. The television is my only company in an empty flat. I pay for my own expenses. But why do we have to fall prey to such an unfair rule? I don't want to pay for tv license out of my pension fund- which is already quite small.”

A recent study showed free TV licences are scrapped completely, this will cost over-75s living in Southall area, a combined total of £665,210.00 a year. If the age threshold is raised to 80, local over-75s will pay a combined total of £273,910.00 a year.

If free TV licences are linked to Pension Credit, altogether our oldest citizens will pay a total of £398,825.00 a year.

By outsourcing responsibility for paying for free TV licences, this Government will be saving £745 million across the UK in 2021/22. This is in addition to the £220 million the Government will be saving that same year through changes to pension credit. This money, nearly a billion pounds, is coming directly out of the pockets of pensioners.

The prospect of elderly people losing their free TV licences makes a mockery of the government's claim that austerity is over.

Virendra Sharma MP for Ealing, Southall told Asian Voice, “This Government has broken its manifesto promise to keep free TV licences until 2022, and now millions of elderly people are facing losing their free TV licences.

“If these plans go ahead, people over the age of 75 in our community will pay a combined total of hundreds of thousands of pounds a year.

“This is yet another Tory policy that punishes pensioners. Through scrapping free TV licences and changing pension credit alone, this Government would offload almost a billion pounds of costs onto our oldest citizens in a single year.

“This Tory Government is picking pensioners’ pockets. Labour is calling on the Government to urgently re-consider and save free TV licences for over-75s.”

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