21st Oct, 2019

Bromsgrove Older People's Forum expresses concern over BBC scrapping free licences for the over 75s

Bromsgrove Editorial 13th Jun, 2019 Updated: 14th Jun, 2019

THE BROMSGROVE Forum for Older People has expressed concern after it was revealed the BBC would be revoking the free TV licence for those 75-years-old and over, writes Isabel Kimbrey.

Almost 7,500 pensioners in Bromsgrove will be affected after the new policy was revealed on Monday (June 11) – only those who receive Pension Credit will still be entitled to the free licence.

Mary Rowlands, secretary for Bromsgrove’s Older People’s Forum said it would especially impact on those living in rural areas.

“Bus services are not as regular in rural areas and at a time when isolation and loneliness is high, these people rely on their TV for companionship”, she said.

“They aren’t able to get out and about into town and I feel very sad for those who won’t be able to afford it.”

TV licences have been free for over 75s since 2000 through Government subsidies but responsibility for cost of them will be passed from the Government to the BBC in June 2020.

The corporation said the scheme was unaffordable as it was expected to cost £745million in 2021/22. That amount is a fifth of the broadcaster’s budget and the equivalent of what is spent on BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC Four, the BBC News channel, CBBC and Cbeebies combined.

Caroline Abrahams, charity Director at Age UK said: “The BBC’s decision will cause those affected enormous anxiety and distress, and some anger too, but in the end this is the Government’s fault, not the BBC’s,”

She called on the new Prime Minister to intervene.

“The decent thing for the Government to do is to continue to fund the entitlement until the BBC’s overall funding deal comes up for negotiation in 2022.

“This would be warmly welcomed by our older population as a much fairer way to proceed,” she added.

Sir David Clementi, chairman of the BBC, said: “A significant number thought the Government should continue to fund it – an option not open to the BBC.

“The Government could of course step in and close the gap from their own resources.”

 

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