Government must protect free tv licence for pensioners

The government must step in to protect free TV licences for pensioners, says Lesley Laird MP.
Her comment comes after a recent Labour-led debate in the Commons calling on the Government to uphold a 2017 promise to protect the BBC concession.
The benefit was originally introduced in November 2000, when the Department for Work and Pensions agreed to pay the government directly for TV licences for those over the age of 75.
Responsibility for funding licences was passed from the government to the BBC in 2015 and the corporation has been consulting on its future.
Lesley Laird, MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath said: “If free TV licences are scrapped completely, over 6,500 households in my constituency would bear the cost of nearly £1m per year.
“For many elderly people their TV is daily source of comfort; an essential means of staving off the effects of isolation and loneliness.
“And, despite claims by BBC commissioned research that pensioners are now the least likely generation to live in poverty, food banks here on the ground tell me elderly people are struggling to pay for life’s basic essentials, especially as food and heating bills continue to rise.
“The government should not just stand by and let a concession introduced nearly 20 years ago be cruelly cast aside simply because it decided to absolve responsibility to the BBC.
“They promised pensioners they would stand by them in 2017. Well, here’s a chance to prove it.”