Thousands of elderly residents across Dumfries and Galloway are set to lose their TV licence in 2020, new figures have revealed.
As part of the last BBC charter the Government devolved responsibility for the free TV licence policy, and the cost, to the BBC. The BBC can decide what to do with the benefit from 2020 and they are currently consulting on a number of options including scrapping the free TV licence concession altogether, raising the eligible age to 80 and means testing it, for example by linking it to pension credit.
New figures produced for the Labour Party by the House of Commons Library show that under each of the changes proposed by the BBC in their consultation, millions of pensioners will lose their free licences.
The House of Commons Library calculated that, were the free licence linked to pension credit, i.e. means tested, 9,200 older households in Dumfries and Galloway at risk of losing their free TV licences.
Another option on the consultation is to raise the age threshold for a free TV licence to 80 which would see 4,889 local pensioners will lose their TV licence.
Free TV licences are an important benefit for older people who suffer disproportionately from loneliness and social isolation. The Campaign to End Loneliness found that 40% of older people say their television is their main source of company.
The prospect of elderly people losing their free TV licences makes a mockery of Theresa May’s claim that austerity is over and the Conservative’s 2022 manifesto commitment to protect free TV licenses until 2022. The Government should take responsibility and save TV licences for the elderly.
South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth MSP said,
“Scrapping free TV licences for the over 75s would hit thousands of older people across Dumfries and Galloway.
The prospect of older people having to cut back on heating or food in order to keep their TV should leave local Tory MPs David Mundell and Alister jack thoroughly ashamed.
“They both promised at the last General Election that TV licences for over 75s would be protected. If they had any compassion for older people in the area they would step in and fight to save the free TV licences for over 75s.”