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Switched Off: Save free TV for older people

Thank you to the 634,334 of you who signed our petition to save free TV for older people.

We've now handed your signatures into 10 Downing Street. Find out how you can still help below.

For over a million of the oldest people in our country, television is their main form of company. Right now, that’s under threat.

The BBC has announced they plan to means test TV licences for the over 75s. That means they'll only be free for people receiving Pension Credit. We believe this change will harm millions of older people who rely on their TV. Together, we must demand the Government takes back responsibility for funding free TV licences. 

How you can help

We've handed in our petition with an incredible 634,334 signatures to Downing Street, but we still need your help to reverse the decision to means test free TV licences.


Get in touch with your MP

Ask your MP to save free TV for older people by using our simple online form.

Write to your MP

Send a Tweet

Tell the Prime Minister to save free TV licences with a quick Tweet.

Tweet the PM

Why means testing isn't the answer

Many people who are most in need of a free TV licence would lose it under a means-tested system. 

The most in need often miss out

Under new plans, only older people who receive a benefit called Pension Credit will receive a free TV licence. But 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 lots more feel embarrassed about needing help. These people are some of the poorest in our society. 

People who are barely scraping by will suffer

Lots of older people have struggled throughout their working life to save a little extra for retirement. But that small pot of savings for a rainy day means they don't qualify for means-tested benefits. Others are coping with the costs of ill-health or disability. Taking their free TV licence away is a cruel blow. 

How will older people be affected?

Removing older people's access to TV would be an unthinkably cruel blow when many are already facing huge challenges. Quotes on this page are from real people who'd be affected by the decision. 

  • Half of all over 75s are living with a disability, and many rely on their TV for companionship and entertainment.
  • For those who don't have the internet, TV lets them stay up to date with what's happening in the world.
  • Nearly a third of over 75s are living in poverty or just above the poverty line. Paying a hefty extra bill would simply be impossible when they're barely scraping by as it is.
  • Our research shows that more than 2 million over 75s will have to go without TV or cut back on heating and food if free TV licences were scrapped.

"I have had a stroke and I am housebound. TV is my main pleasure. Don't do this to us please."

What older people are telling us

We've received thousands of responses from people across the country who are worried about losing their TV licence, or are concerned for others who may be affected.

Their words are a powerful reminder that, for many people, TV is so much more than just 'background noise'.

"In my advancing years I have to spend longer hours at home, so watching TV is not just a pastime but a necessity. TV is my "life support machine!" I am convinced it ought to be free for people on low income and particularly so for the over 75s. I do hope the proposition will be rescinded."

"I am on a small pension and if it came to a choice between food and TV, I would lose out and become isolated and alone. TV keeps me company."

Worried about the planned changes to TV licences?

To be eligible for a free TV licence under the planned changes, people will need to be claiming Pension Credit. Find out more about what this might mean for you, and check whether you're eligible to make a claim for Pension Credit.

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Last updated: Aug 01 2019

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