Millions of pensioners betrayed with ‘kick in the teeth’ as free TV licence axed.

Millions of pensioners betrayed with ‘kick in the teeth’ as free TV licence axed.

The BBC has said there will not be an extension to a two-month stay-of-execution, meaning 3.7m pensioners will have to pay the £157.50 yearly fee from1st August 2020.

BY

Ben Glaze – Deputy Political Editor Daily Mirror

and Nicola Methven

10TH JULY 2020

Ricky Tomlinson joins protestors outside BBC Media City at the broadcaster’s decision to axe free TV licences for 3.7 million pensioners.

What is really going on in politics? 

Millions of pensioners will have their free TV licence stripped from them on August 1.

An estimated 3.7 million over-75s who currently receive the benefit will now have to pay the £157.50 yearly fee.

The BBC said there will be no extension to a two-month stay-of-execution triggered by the pandemic.

The Tories, who had promised to safeguard the lifeline, have been blasted for “betraying” pensioners.

Age UK charity director Caroline Abrahams said: “We’re bitterly disappointed on behalf of the millions of over-75s who have had a torrid time over the last few months and for whom this must feel like another kick in the teeth.

Mirror columnist Paul Routledge addresses a ‘Save the TV Licence’ rally at Westminster.

Peers issue fresh calls for Government to save free TV licences for over-75s.

“Many older people on low incomes have told us that if they have to find £150-plus a year to pay for a licence they will have to forego some other essential, or try to survive without TV at all.

“We worry about the mental health of older people living on their own if they have to give up their cherished TV. For some it’s all they have and their main way of alleviating chronic loneliness.”

BBC chairman Sir David Clementi said: “The BBC could not continue delaying the scheme without impacting on programmes and services.”

The Tories pledged in 2017 to protect 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 benefit from 2020, under a deal agreed in 2015.

The Daily Mirror started a campaign to save millions of TV licences in 2018.

     Labour leader Keir Starmer backs calls to save free TV licences for over 75s

Keir Starmer pokes fun at Dominic Cummings with cheeky beer photo.

The Corporation says keeping licences free for all over-75s would cost £745million annually by 2021-22.

Bosses have decided that only those who receive Pension Credit – a benefit for the poorest pensioners – will be eligible. It means roughly 3.7 million over-75s are expected to miss out.

The BBC said about 1.5 million households may still get a free TV licence and that 450,000 have already applied.

The Mirror has campaigned to save the lifeline – supported by the likes of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, ex-Strictly judge Len Goodman and actor Ricky Tomlinson.

Boris Johnson, who vowed in 2017 to protect free licences, has again blamed the BBC. The PM’s spokesman said yesterday: “This is the wrong decision.

Len Goodman backed the campaign.

Free TV licences campaigners step up fight ahead of showdown in Parliament

TV ‘even more important during lockdown’, say OAPs braced to lose free licences

We recognise the value of free TV licences for over-75s and believe they should be funded by the BBC.”

But campaigners have accused the Tories of passing the buck.

Age UK said that while the BBC had made the decision, “the principal responsibility lies with the Government”.

Shadow Culture Secretary Jo Stevens said: “The refusal of the Government to fund this vital service after promising to do so is nothing short of betrayal.

“For the Government to blame the BBC who are having to contend with huge cuts is simply passing the buck.” Dennis Reed, director of campaign group Silver Voices, called the BBC board “stone-hearted” and compared Mr Johnson to Pontius Pilate.

Mr Reed added: “If the Government gets away with scrapping this universal benefit, winter fuel allowances will be next, followed by the [pensions] triple lock and free prescriptions.

Age UK charity director Caroline Abrahams said she is ‘bitterly disappointed’.

Dementia-hit OAPs ‘could suffer worst from TV licence removal’, fear  campaigners

Government should fund free TV licences for over-75s, say majority of pensioners

“TV [is] the main companion for millions. To put this lifeline under threat at this time is the height of cruelty.” The Bectu broadcasting union said: “The BBC has been put in an impossible position by the Government, and is already cutting talented staff and much-loved programmes.

“It is the Government who should be funding this benefit.”

The GMB union said the Tories “have double-crossed millions of pensioners”. While Labour peer Lord Foulkes has vowed to fight on.

Tory MP Julian Knight said: “At what is a very difficult time, this will be a body blow to millions of pensioners.

Jo Stevens says the decision is ‘nothing short of a betrayal’

Ministers ‘should be worried’ about OAPs’ plan to disrupt TV licence fee system.

“I hoped the previous delay would lead to the Government and BBC coming together to thrash out a fresh deal. That has clearly not happened.” The licence fee cut comes despite the Government spending billions to lessen the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis.

In March, Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a £350billion package and this week announced a £30bn boost.

A BBC insider said that while the Corporation agreed to take on responsibility for the policy five years ago, it never committed to keep funding it.

The source said “that was never an option”, adding that the two-month delay to scrapping free licences “has already cost £70million – and that’s on top of the £125million of savings we need to find because of coronavirus”.

The insider said: “Our financial circumstances have changed significantly for the worse since this plan was announced a year ago.

“The only alternative to not pushing ahead with it would be to say goodbye to BBC2, BBC4, the BBC news channel, Radio 5 Live, BBC Scotland and several local radio stations.”

This treachery won’t be forgotten by us..• Daily Mirror• 10 Jul 2020• BY PAUL R0UTLEDGE.

BATTLE MAKING A STAND Actor RickyTomlinson at protest last year.

Mirror story in 2018 huge cuts is simply passing the buck.” Dennis Reed, director of campaign group Silver Voices, called the BBC board “stone-hearted” and compared Mr Johnson to Pontius Pilate.

Mr Reed added: “If the Government gets away with scrapping this universal benefit, winter fuel allowances will be next, followed by the [pensions] triple lock and free prescriptions.

“TV [is] the main companion for millions. To put this lifeline under threat at this time is the height of cruelty.” The Bectu broadcasting union said: “The BBC has been put in an impossible position by the Government, and is already cutting talented staff and much-loved programmes.

“It is the Government who should be funding this benefit.”

The GMB union said the Tories “have double-crossed millions of pensioners”. While Labour peer Lord Foulkes has vowed to fight on.

Tory MP Julian Knight said: “At what is a very difficult time, this will be a body blow to millions of pensioners.

“I hoped the previous delay would lead to the Government and BBC coming together to thrash out a fresh deal. That has clearly not happened.” The licence fee cut comes despite the

Government spending billions to lessen the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis.

In March, Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a £350billion package and this week announced a £30bn boost.

A BBC insider said that while the Corporation agreed to take on responsibility for the policy five years ago, it never committed to keep funding it.

The source said “that was never an option”, adding that the two-month delay to scrapping free licences “has already cost £70m – and that’s on top of the £125m of savings we need to find because of coronavirus”.

The insider said: “Our financial circumstances have changed significantly for the worse since this plan was announced a year ago.

“The only alternative to not pushing ahead with it would be to say goodbye to BBC2, BBC4, the BBC news channel, Radio 5 Live, BBC Scotland and several local radio stations.”

BILLIONS here, billions there, Rishi Sunak threw money like confetti at a wedding to business, employers and the opera.

But the cowardly Chancellor delayed the Tory betrayal of pensioners for 24 hours.

Rich Rishi didn’t dare mention it in his mini-Budget because he knew it would spoil his big day.

This is how it looks to us oldies: Thatcher was the milk-snatcher. Sunak is the licence-snatcher.

Only yesterday could the BBC confirm that free TV licences for most over-75s will end in three weeks’ time.

Three million folk will have to fork out a week’s pension every year to fund their friend in the corner.

Too many already have to choose between heating and eating. All charities for the aged agree the telly has been crucial for the elderly during lockdown. It is our lifeline to the outside world – sometimes the only contact.

And if, God forbid, there is a second wave of Covid-19, it will coincide with the deprivation of this vital link.

This is not the fault of the Beeb. It is the toxic legacy of multi-millionaire George Osborne, who forced the cash-strapped BBC to accept financial responsibility.

Chancellor Sunak had one last opportunity to put this scandal right two days ago, and he deliberately, wilfully and arrogantly failed to take it. You can see I’m angry.

For me, this is personal. In 1968, I was fined £4 by a Marylebone stipendiary magistrate for using a wireless without a licence. It isn’t an offence now, and it was an oversight then. I had just moved to London, and didn’t have a TV so I didn’t get a licence that would have covered my old Bakelite radio.

I never made the same mistake again. Honest, m’lud.

Since then, I’ve paid thousands of pounds to watch the telly. I finally got my Gordon Brown free licence in December 2018. Twenty months later, the Tories are taking it away. Some furious oldies have said they will defy the detector van. This is serious. Failure to buy a licence will lead to fines and even imprisonment. A generation of pensioners faces the choice of kow-towing to the Government, or getting a criminal record in old age.

This latest treachery will go down badly with my generation. Remember, we turn out at election time.

Some Tories realise this is a vote loser. Julian Knight MP, chairman of the Commons Culture Committee, moaned that his Chancellor’s parsimony would be “a body blow” to pensioners.

It should also be a kick in the ballots. I urge readers to write to their MP to denounce this betrayal of the Conservatives’ promise to retain pension benefits.

If they can spend a million quid on painting Boris Johnson’s plane, and dole out billions to bosses they can afford to keep our licences. They could make a political soap out of this scandal: “Get stuffed, Minister!”

Only we won’t be able to watch it.

PAUL ROUTLEDGE ON VITAL LINK TV PROVIDES

DEMO Elderly are ready to fight.

It is our lifeline to the world, sometimes the only contact.

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