20th Jul, 2019

Thousands of Redditch residents could face free TV licence axe

Rob George 13th Feb, 2019

THOUSANDS of households across Redditch will be affected if the free TV licence for people aged 75 and above is scrapped, according to figures from the House of Commons library.

Figures show 5,120 households in the borough have someone aged 75-years-old and above with 3,050 of those housing someone aged 80 and above.

TV licences have been free for over 75s since 2000 but responsibility for the policy and the cost of licences has been passed to the BBC from the Government from June 2020, as part of the corporation’s latest charter.

BBC chiefs have revealed the scheme is expected to cost £745million in 2021/22 and launched a consultation which about its future, which ended this week.

According to the broadcaster, retaining the policy would cost a fifth of its budget – equivalent to what it spends on all of BBC2, BBC3, BBC4, the BBC News Channel, CBBC and CBeebies.

The corporation has admitted it is considering axing all concessions meaning everyone with a television would pay the fee of £150.50 per year.

Asking over 75s to pay 50 per cent of the fee or introducing means testing to ensure older people in financial need wouldn’t pay are also being considered.

According to the figures, 3,920 of affected Redditch households would lose the free licence if it was linked to those in receipt of pension credit.

A further option being examined by BBC bosses is to raise the qualifying age for a free TV licence from 75 to 80-years-old. While this would reduce the cost to the BBC it would still affect 2,070 homes in the borough, according to the figures.

Charity chiefs at Age UK have called on the Government to urgently take back responsibility for the funding and administration of the policy.

Charity director Caroline Abrahams, said: “TV is a source of great pleasure and comfort to many of the oldest people in our society and it’s a crying shame millions could soon be faced with choosing between cutting down on food and heating or paying to continue to enjoy it.

“The Government created this problem and it is in their power to solve it: we urge them to stop hiding behind the BBC and accept their responsibility for free TV licences for the over-75s.”

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