West Midlands pensioners condemn move to scrap free TV licences to all over 75s
"Terrible news" - that's the verdict from a leading pensioners group after the BBC scrapped free TV licences for the over 75s.
The West Midlands Pensioners Convention today voiced concerns and vowed to lobby the Government for the free licence for all to be reinstated.
The broadcaster was set to take on the financial burden of providing free licences for over-75s from the Government in 2020.
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After a review, the concession will now be available only to households receiving pension credit.
Prime Minister Theresa May has already voiced her disappointment with the decision, while Labour deputy leader and West Bromwich East MP Tom Watson branded the burden placed on pensioners an "outrage"
The corporation has been accused of doing the Government's cost-cutting "dirty work".
In a statement today, The West Midlands Pensioners Convention said: "The decision by the BBC to scrap the over 75s free TV licence for all pensioners not in receipt of Pensions Credit is terrible news for millions of pensioners throughout the UK.
"A decision that we in the West Midlands Pensioners Convention will continue to campaign against and demand that the Government brings forward legislation to reinstate the Over 75s Free TV Licence as a responsibility of government, under due scrutiny by our elected Members of Parliament and funded through general taxation.
"The BBC in making this decision have replaced a universal benefit with a means tested benefit (Pensions Credit) as the eligibility criteria for those pensioners applying for a free to licence.
"The West Midlands Pensioners Convention have many concerns about the impact of this decision by the BBC including:
- According to official Government figures 1.3million families who are entitled to Pensions Credit do not claim.
- Poorer households will be the hardest hit.
- Many elderly pensioners will be pushed into poverty.
- Concerns that older viewers will be unable or unwilling to provide the BBC with proof that they are in receipt of benefits including Pensions Credit.
- It is likely to result in criminal proceedings of elderly viewers who are unable to pay for a TV Licence.
The Pensioners Convention is involved in many pensioner issues such as free care for the elderly, pensions, food and fuel poverty and the preservation of the NHS.
Mr Watson added: "It is an outrage that this Government is overseeing the scrapping of free TV licences for three million older people, leaving a Tory manifesto promise in tatters.
"I challenge all Tory leadership candidates to honour the commitment they made in 2017. You cannot means-test for social isolation.
"You cannot means-test for loneliness. Millions of elderly and isolated people will lose because of this announcement."