NEIL Hamilton, AM for Mid & West Wales and Leader of UKIP Wales, is urging his constituents to lobby their MP’s over plans to charge older people for a TV licence. Mr Hamilton said he was outraged when the BBC recently announced they were going to means test paid TV licences for the over 75s in 2020. He said:
“It is scandalous that the BBC, which is supposed to be run for the people, can be so callous and uncaring for those who have paid into the system their entire lives.
“Many old age pensioners experience serious issues with loneliness. For many, the television is their window on the world, providing companionship and entertainment in an otherwise empty and lonely life. Removing the free licence will penalise the poorest in society.
“We have recently shared in the poignant commemorations of D-Day and it is scandalous that those remaining veterans, for example, will now have to find the money for their licence. The BBC thinks nothing of paying inflated salaries up to £1.8m for some of their over-paid presenters, not to mention huge salaries and pensions for their bureaucrats. They are skilled at spending other people’s money and this pot of gold should not come from the oldest and most vulnerable in society.
“This is not a devolved issue and responsibility lies with the UK Government. I urge everyone to contact their local MP ahead of a Parliamentary debate which will take place on 15th July.
“I would also urge everyone to sign the petition launched by AGE UK www.ageuk.org.uk/tvpetition which has already received massive support for the campaign to overturn this mean and wrong decision. The BBC and the Government must think again and show proper respect to our senior citizens by restoring their rights. “
The BBC announced, earlier this month that, from June 2020, only people who are aged 75 and above and in receipt of Pension Credit will continue to receive a free television licence.
It said the cost of the free TV licence concession for those over 75 would amount to £745m by 2021/22, which it said would threaten the future of services including BBC 2, BBC 4, BBC News Channel and Radio 5Live.
The UK Government has expressed its disappointment with the BBC’s decision and believes the BBC can, and should do more to support older people. An on line petition was started and within days more than 170,000 signed up forcing Parliament to debate the matter on Monday July 15.
Age UK has also launched a campaign demanding the UK Government takes back responsibility for funding TV licences. They believe that many people who are most in need of a free TV licence would lose it under a means-tested system. Under new plans, only older people who receive a benefit called Pension Credit will receive a free TV licence. However, two fifths of people who are entitled to this benefit, about 1.2 million pensioners, aren’t getting it.
Some don’t know they can claim, many struggle to apply and many more feel embarrassed about needing help. These people are some of the poorest in our society.
For more information and to sign the petition go to: www.ageuk.org/our-impact/campaigning/save-free-tv-for-olderpeople.