Ian Austin MP

Independent MP for Dudley North

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Austin slams plans to take free TV Licence from over 75s

Millions of older people across the country are set to lose their TV licence in 2020 despite the Conservatives promising in their 2017 general election manifesto to protect free TV licences until 2022.

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Austin is calling for a stop to any plans that would see older people lose out and is supporting the Age UK campaign to keep TV licences free.

As part of the last BBC charter the Government devolved responsibility for the free TV licence policy, and the cost, to the BBC. The BBC can decide what to do with the benefit from 2020 and they are currently consulting on a number of options including scrapping the free TV licence concession altogether, raising the eligible age to 80 and means testing it, for example by linking it to pension credit.

Bur these changes means that millions of pensioners are at risk of losing their free licences across the country. In Dudley North alone figures show that just under 6,000 older people are at risk of losing their free TV licences.

Free TV licences are an important benefit for older people who suffer disproportionately from loneliness and social isolation. The Campaign to End Loneliness found that 40% of older people say their television is their main source of company.

The prospect of elderly people losing their free TV licences makes a mockery of Theresa May’s claim that austerity is over. The Government should take responsibility and save TV licences for the elderly.

Ian Austin said:

 “The Tory Government knew what it was doing when it forced the cost of paying for free licences for over 75s out to the BBC.

“Ian am opposed to any proposals which would see older people losing out. It will be a terrible blow to people who already struggle to make ends meet and particularly to those who are housebound or isolated and rely on their TV for company.

“The Tory Government needs come clean and to tell us urgently what they are going to do to ensure free TV licences aren’t cut and they don’t break their manifesto promise. If they do nothing, responsibility for older people losing their TV licences will rest firmly at their feet.”

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