Hartlepool MP calls on Government to overturn 'cruel' plan to ditch free TV licences for pensioners

Hartlepool’s MP says he will continue to press the Government over plans to scrap free TV licences for over 75s.

Monday, 14th October 2019, 5:45 pm
Do you think TV licences for over 75s should be free? Picture: PA.
Do you think TV licences for over 75s should be free? Picture: PA.

Mike Hill spoke out on the issue again after the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee said the situation where only those claiming pension credit will be eligible was ‘absurd’.

Charity Independent Age estimates that 3.3 million people will not qualify under the change to the rules from next June.

It is due to the Government putting the responsibility for funding the licences from itself onto the BBC.

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But the Corporation said the £745m cost would have put BBC Two, BBC Four, the BBC News Channel, the BBC Scotland channel, Radio 5live, and a number of local radio stations at risk of closure.

Mr Hill said: “Pensioners suffer disproportionately from loneliness and social isolation, and all too often the television is the only company they have; in many cases it’s literally a lifeline.

“The present Government has done a good job of off loading the burden of paying this benefit onto the BBC, but in doing so they have cast aside their social responsibility and let pensioners down.

“However while I and many other MPs will continue the fight to maintain free TV licences for the over 75s there is every chance that under current proposals that Pensioners will still be eligible for one.”

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Mr Hill added that elderly people should be told about what they are entitled to and urged all pensioners to find out if they are eligible for Pension Credit by contacting the Pension Credit Helpline on 0800 99 1234.

He added: “I will continue to lobby the Government to take back responsibility for the provision of free licences and will be pressing them to write to elderly and vulnerable people to inform them of their entitlement to Pension Credit at the very least; not to do so would be robbing them of their entitlement.

“People, old and young, are being let down by the Government, but refusal to guarantee free TV licences is particularly cruel; pricing people out of their only contact with the outside world is disgraceful and will only lead to greater loneliness and isolation.”