Thank you for contacting me about TV licences for the over 75s.
I stood on a manifesto that made clear that the BBC should do the right thing and fund TV licences for over 75s. The BBC’s decision to stop funding free TV licences for most over 75s is very disappointing. Only those who receive the Pension Credit benefit will be exempt.
The BBC chose to delay implementing its decision to stop funding free TV licences for over 75s from June to August. It is deeply disappointing that they have announced they will be going ahead with the decision from August. In light of the restrictions placed on society because of coronavirus, this announcement is very poorly timed and will have a big impact on many of our most vulnerable members of society.
For most of us, television is an important connection with the outside world that informs and entertains. It also has a role in keeping people company, and this can be especially true for older people. I know from my own relatives and constituents just how important television is in their lives. This is why I was disappointed that the BBC announced the most narrowly defined option for reform of the over 75s concession.
It is important to note that this was the BBC’s decision and not the Government’s, after Parliament legislated to give the BBC the full responsibility from 2020. This was part of a deal the Government reached with the BBC over four years ago, which the BBC described as a good deal that provided financial stability to the organisation through inflation linked increases of the licence fee and the closure of the so-called iPlayer loophole.
As you will be aware, even under the BBC’s current plans, the poorest pensioners will continue to be helped, as the BBC stated that those eligible for Pension Credit will still receive a free TV licence. However, I do not believe that this is the end of the conversation about what the BBC can do to assist older people.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Sally-Ann Hart MP