Age UK’s response to the DCMS Committee report: BBC Annual Report and accounts 2018-19: TV licences for over 75s
By: Age UK
Published on 11 October 2019 12:00 AM
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK said: "We strongly agree with the Committee that the Government should never have passed responsibility for the over-75s' free TV licence onto the BBC and that both parties should now get together and work out a solution that ensures this important entitlement continues."
"There's no doubt that the TV is incredibly important to many over-75s; research for Age UK shows it's the main form of company for two in every five (38 per cent) and nine out of 10 watch TV every day.[i] Countless older people have told us just how much their TV matters to them, using phrases such as a "lifeline", "my link to the outside world", "not just a pastime but a necessity... my life support machine".
"However, over the last few months it has become clear that the BBC's plan to means-test these licences for over-75s from June 2020 will result in significant numbers being forced to choose between buying a licence, cutting back on essentials like heating and eating, or continuing to watching the TV without a licence, thereby breaking the law. Even the BBC's own analysis shows that means-testing will lead to many poor pensioners missing out on the free licence which ought by right to be theirs. In addition, requiring the millions of people in this age group to buy a licence or prove their eligibility for a free one, in many cases for the first time in donkey's years, is a recipe for chaos and for a lot of accidental non-compliance.
"For all these reasons we think the Government and the BBC would be wise to sit down and broker a solution now that keeps the over-75s' TV licence free, before all hell potentially breaks loose next summer. Older people will be immensely pleased and relieved if this happens, as will be the almost a million who have signed petitions in support of them."