MP blasts BBC decision to scrap blanket free TV licences to over 75s

Lesley Laird MP has branded the government as heartless if it upholds the BBC’s decision to scrap free tv licences for over 75’s.

Under the new rules, only low-income households where one person receives the pension credit benefit will still be eligible for a free licence.

The move means the Government will pocket £745 million across the UK in 2021/22, and additionally gain £220 million through changes to pension credit.

Lesley Laird MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath said: “If this Government continues to sit back and merely watch from the sidelines while free licences are scrapped for the over 75s, they’ll break their 2017 manifesto commitment and reveal themselves for what they are – utterly heartless.”

She added: “The BBC announcement to means-test free TV licences for the over 75s simply reflects the financial approach of this Government. Outsourcing the cost for free TV licences to the BBC means they now have to fund this out of their budget.

“These changes will also be particularly harsh for disabled pensioners, and also disproportionately affect women.”

In Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, Labour Party research shows that if free TV licences are linked to Pension Credit, 5,040 households in our area will now have to pay a total of £758,520 a year.

With pensioner poverty once again on the rise, and foodbank use increasing, pensioners are already facing tough choices about heating or eating.

Lesley added: “Many elderly residents say TV staves off loneliness and social isolation – it’s their main source of company. You can’t means-test for that.

“This is just another example of how our welfare system is being systematically dismantled.

“We’ve already seen the impact of Universal Credit in our community, and this is yet another policy decision that impacts on the most vulnerable in our community.

“If Tory MPs had any compassion at all, they would act now and honour their manifesto commitment. I won’t be holding my breath. That’s why I will continue to fight this tooth and nail.”

The MP also urged constituents to sign Age UK’s petition https://campaigns.ageuk.org.uk/page/34266/petition/1?ea.tracking.id=1unr39mb