The clock is ticking on the Free TV licence for the over 75s. At the last General Election the Conservatives promised that they would keep the free TV licence for over 75s – but now it’s at risk. I’m now listening to as many Plymothians as possible to get their views.
The free TV licence was introduced by the Labour Government in 2000, as a recognition that as people get older the TV becomes an ever more important way of keeping in touch with the world. As time has gone on, the need for it has become even greater – more people live on their own nowadays, and a survey for AgeUK found that four in 10 older people said they rely on the TV for company. With rising prices in other areas like food, gas and electricity, having one less thing to have to afford can be a real help – a full TV licence costs £150.50 a year.
Because the Conservative Government has now stopped funding the free licence, the BBC has to find a way to fund it themselves. The BBC say there may have to be changes, and have a consultation that closes in a few days.
I know some over 75s are able to afford a TV licence, but I also know that many can’t – they are on a fixed income, and already often struggle to meet their bills. Money saved by cutting universal free licences may well be swallowed up by the costs of running a more complicated scheme, so I believe that the free TV licence for over 75s should stay.
The Government must step in to guarantee that everyone over 75 gets a free TV licence – as has been the case for nearly twenty years.
Last October I wrote to our local Tory MP to ask him to come clean and tell us what he and his government are going to do to ensure free TV licences aren’t cut and to keep their manifesto pledge. He still hasn’t replied. Please get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know your views.