Government should fund free TV licences for over-75s, say majority of pensioners.
More than three-quarters of the members quizzed by Later Life Ambitions wanted ministres to be responsible.
Ben Glaze Deputy Political Editor
16TH JUNE 2020
Most over-75s will lose their free licences.
Pensioners overwhelmingly believe the Government should be responsible for funding free TV licences, a poll showed today.
Some 76% who were questioned by the campaign group Later Life Ambitions said it was up to ministers to maintain the benefit for over-75s.
Millions of OAPs face being stripped of the lifeline from August 1 after the Tories ditched a 2017 election manifesto pledge to preserve free licences.
The Conservatives are under mounting pressure to strike a deal with the BBC to keep the benefit, as the impact of withdrawing entitlement was laid bare by a Later Life Ambitions poll.
The group represents more than a quarter of a million pensioners from the National Federation of Occupational Pensioners, the Civil Service Pensioners’ Alliance and the National Association of Retired Police Officers.
Millions of pensioners will miss out.
Two-thirds of the 6,231 of its members who responded to an online survey said losing the concession would make them feel lonelier.
Seventy-per-cent said their TV was their main way of staying up to date with news and current affairs.
Leaders said the findings should force ministers to thrash out a solution with BBC bosses.
BBC director-general Lord Tony Hall is leaving the corporation.
Later Life Ambitions spokesman Steve Edwards, who is chief executive of the National Association of Retired Police Officers, said: “Any decision to end the free TV licence will have adverse consequences for many vulnerable people.
“We believe that this is a decision that should be taken by our Government, rather than passed to unelected officials at the BBC.
“We have written to the new director-general to make the views of our members clear.”
Labour peer Lord George Foulkes, co-chairman of Parliament’s cross-party group for Ageing and Older People, said: “This is further evidence of the growing campaign to stop the cruel move to end free TV licences for over-75s, which are so vital for so many older people for information, entertainment and most importantly contact with the outside world.”
Labour peer Lord George Foulkes.
Some 3.7 million OAPs are due to lose free licences, worth £157.50 a year, in just six weeks.
Curbs on entitlement were due to come into force on June 1 but were delayed by two months because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Conservatives pledged at the 2017 election to protect over-75s’ free licences for the rest of that Parliament, which was due to run until 2022.
But the BBC had already been handed responsibility for funding the lifeline from June 2020, under a deal agreed in 2015.
The corporation is restricting eligibility to over-75s who receive Pension Credit.
It says keeping licences free for all would cost £745million by 2021-22.
Age UK charity director Caroline Abrahams said the Later Life Ambitions research showed that figures “keeping TV licences free for our over-75s is more important than ever, because older people are relying on their TV for news, for the latest information about staying safe and for entertainment to distract them from the anxiety and sadness so many feel”.
She added: “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, or missing out on the benefits they are due.
“Taking all these older people’s free TV licences away would be a cruel blow at a time like this.
“For the sake of older people’s health and wellbeing it is imperative that free TV licences for our over-75s are retained.”
The Mirror is campaigning to permanently save the benefit, with more than 18,000 readers backing the fight by completing coupons in the paper.
Boris Johnson has previously urged the BBC to “cough up” and save free licences.
Outgoing BBC boss Lord Hall has blamed the Government for axing the benefit.
Lost generation face poor & sick retirement Fears Sunak will axe pensions triple lock.
18th June 2020
BY PIPPA CRERAR Political Editor.
CLAIMS Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
PEOPLE in their 50s and 60s could retire poorer and in worse health than the generation before them because of the pandemic, campaigners warn.
One in five in this “lost generation” have suffered deteriorating physical health during the lockdown, and a third say their mental health has worsened.
Nearly half believe their personal finances will take a hit in the next year, found an Ipsos Mori poll for the Centre for Ageing Better.
The charity’s chief Anna Dixon said: “This group are being ignored when it comes to proposed actions to support the recovery. At the same time, it’s clear this group also face serious risks to their health.
“If this generation continues to be an afterthought in the coronavirus recovery we’ll see a lost generation entering retirement in poorer health and worse financial circumstances than those before them.”
It came amid suggestions that Chancellor Rishi Sunak was considering suspending the Tories’ triplelock pensions manifesto pledge.
The mechanism ensures the state pension rises in line with the highest of wages, inflation or 2.5%, so any change would save the Treasury billions – but also risks angering millions of pensioners.
Experts believe a temporary suspension is inevitable unless the Government is prepared to pay a massive bill next year.
There are signs that the bounce back in wages for furloughed workers could push up average earnings and put pensioners in line for an 18% increase. There is also uncertainty over inflation.
Boris Johnson yesterday warned
of “tough times ahead” as ministers faced pressure to increase support for some of the poorest households.
The triple lock could be replaced with a lower guaranteed minimum of 1% or 1.5%, or a “double lock” – raising the pension by the highest of inflation or earnings growth, but with no guaranteed minimum.
Retirement expert and former Tory Pensions Minister Ros Altmann said: “The Government absolutely must protect pensioners… However, all policy decisions are likely to be revisited in light of the health and economic crisis.
“It is important not to rush to hasty conclusions, but I hope [people] will consider the way the triple lock actually works and objectively assess whether it may have run its course.”
Downing Street played down the suggestion the triple lock could be suspended or scrapped.
But a No10 source said: “These are unique and challenging economic circumstances and we can’t hide from that.” A spokesman for Labour leader Keir Starmer said: “We’ve long said the triple lock is an important means of addressing the relatively low state pension by international standards.” The TUC also warned the triple lock must stay because our state pension is one of the lowest in the developed world.
Chief Frances O’Grady said: “Boris Johnson promised to honour this manifesto pledge just last month. Pensioners should be protected from the impact of any fall in wages or inflation this year.”
The coronavirus death toll rose 184 yesterday to 42,153, although the true figure is thought to be significantly higher.
OAPs hit with Tory turncoat triple whammy.• Daily Mirror• 18 Jun 2020• PAUL ROUTLEDGE
THIS would make a Tory TripleWhammy.
My generation has borne the brunt of death due to coronavirus.
Pensioners are 34 times more likely to die with Covid-19 than people of working age.
That’s substantially due to the incompetence of Boris Johnson’s
government’s and the shameful delay in fighting the pandemic.
Free TV licences for the over 75s, a lifesaver for oldies living in lockdown, are being scrapped next month.
And now Chancellor Rishi Sunak wants to abandon the Conservative manifesto pledge of a triple-lock for state pensions.
He calls it “suspension” but, realistically, it would never come back.
Millions of pensioners could sink back into poverty. What have old folk done to deserve this triple blow?
The Government blames a possible post-pandemic surge in earnings next year for this grubby betrayal.
But there is no guarantee that will happen – only a guarantee that the Tories will use this excuse to break their word. Ending the link to earnings would be only the first step. And, once breached, the whole structure of connection to the economy would eventually collapse.
Pensioners thought they had only the deadly virus to fear.
Now we should be very afraid of the fast-talking Chancellor and his sly reversion to austerity for the elderly.
The UK’s impoverished pensioners need to be looked after.
The older generation have paid the highest price for the coronavirus they should not be made to pay an economic price as well.
18 JUNE 2020
rights. You can unsubscribe at any time.
We already have one the highest rates of pensioner poverty in Western Europe.
There are now real fears that more elderly people could be pushed below the breadline by the coronavirus pandemic.
We face the prospect of a generation in their 50s and 60s retiring in poor health and without enough money to support themselves.
Research by the Centre for Ageing Better suggests a fifth of people in those age groups have seen their physical health deteriorate during lockdown, and over a third say their mental health has worsened.
This Government has already decided to scrap free TV licences for the over-75s.
Free TV licences for the over-75s have been scrapped•
Now there are reports that the pension triple-lock is in its sights too.
With an estimated 1.6million pensioners on or below the poverty line, this would be not only a short-sighted move but a vindictive one.
The older generation have paid the highest price for the coronavirus – they should not be made to pay an economic price as well.