In my most recent personally speaking column for the Stoke Sentinel I wrote about the decision to withdraw free TV licenses from 2020. If you missed it on Monday in the paper – you can read it below 👇
If you agree with what I say – don’t forget to sign the petition at the bottom 🖊 and share with your friends 🗣
The BBC recently announced that they will start means testing television licences for pensioners, meaning that people aged 75 and over who do not currently receive pensions credits are set to lose out. In Stoke-on-Trent Central, this amounts to 3,220 households losing out on £484,610. Nationally, this impacts over 3 million households, losing out on £457 million.
Whilst it may be a natural response to focus the blame on the BBC, this decision follows the Conservative Governments’ refusal to subsidise the licences, forcing the BBC to find other sources of money to plug the gap. This marks a retreat by the Conservative Government from a commitment made in their 2017 manifesto which stated that they would protect pensioner benefits including free TV licences for the duration of this parliament.
The means testing won’t just effect those who can afford it: many of those who will fall foul of the changes are by no means wealthy. Many of them will be just scraping by, reliant on savings gathered throughout their lives to fund their retirement, which in-turn will result in them being ineligible for pension credits. A third of over 75s are already living in poverty or just above the poverty line and this new, additional cost will only magnify an already appalling situation. People who have worked their entire lives are once again being targeted by the Conservative cuts.
The impact of this change is not only financial: televisions have other important functions for older people too. With other 2 million people aged 75+ stating that they are lonely, the television set provides a form of companionship for these people. Many older people also lack access or understanding of the internet and the television is an important vehicle for ensuring they are kept up-to-date with the news and what’s happening in the world.
This regressive change will impact some of the most vulnerable in our society, forcing them to go without a television or further impacting their already delicate financial situation, necessitating a choice between paying for their television licence or cutting back on food costs or heating. People who earned their retirement through hard work are being directly penalised by the Conservative Government.
You can sign the Labour Party’s petition against the move by simply clicking on the link below!