“Strip meddling Tory ministers of TV licence power so they can’t bully BBC”
EXCLUSIVE: Lib Dem Culture spokesperson Daisy Cooper has demanded that the future of the licence fee be set by an independent commission so it cannot be a victim of Tory meddling.
3RD AUGUST 2020
Tory ministers shouldn’t have any control over the TV licence fee, an MP says.
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Control of the TV licence fee should be taken from Tory Ministers so they cannot use it to bully the BBC, an MP says.
The universal free TV licence came to an end for over-75s on Saturday after the Government broke a commitment to maintaining the benefit, and handed responsibility for it to cash strapped bosses at the BBC.
From Saturday only those over-75 and receiving pension credit will receive a free licence, which will leave an estimated 3.7 million OAPs £157.50 out of pocket every year.
People over 75 have been entitled to a free TV licence since 2000, allowing them to watch TV and listen to BBC radio without paying the annual charge.
The BBC is being forced to restrict the free licence to people on Pension Credit after the Tories broke a 2017 manifesto promise guaranteeing the benefit.
National Pensioners Convention General Secretary Jan Shortt with a ripped up TV licence during a protest outside BBC Newcastle.
The licence fee model is set to continue until 2027, but the cost of the licence is only fixed until April 2021
Campaigners have launched a bid to make sure OAPs who are eligible for the means-tested benefit are receiving it, which experts say will cost the Government an extra £1.6billion – more than double the annual cost of the free licence.
But now Lib Dem Culture spokesperson Daisy Cooper has demanded that the future of the licence fee be set by an independent commission so it cannot be a victim of Tory meddling.
Ms Cooper, who willl raise the issue at the Party’s first digital conference, warned the Government must never again be allowed to “force the BBC into a corner where it has to choose between cuts to programming or raising these fees on the most vulnerable.”
She is also set to slam Boris Johnson for ducking BBC scrutiny during last year’s General Election by calling on all senior politicians to make themselves available for scrutiny in televised interviews and debates.
Speaking ahead of the debate, Ms Cooper said: “Families around the UK have flocked to the BBC during the coronavirus pandemic as a source of trusted news, entertainment and education, demonstrating the true value of public service broadcasting at a time of national crisis.
“As families face serious financial hardship and the prospect of local lockdowns, it is absurd that the BBC is left with no choice but to cut jobs and programmes that will reduce people’s ability to know what’s going on in their area.
“Ending free TV licences for the over 75s, which could push some of the poorest pensioners into poverty, jars with common decency.
“We must be clear: the responsibility of these cuts fallsquarely at the feet of Conservative Ministers.
“With these plans, it is no wonder we can find neither hide nor hair of Boris Johnson when proper media scrutiny comes calling.
“To save BBC programming we must never again allow Ministers to force the BBC into a corner where it has to choose between cuts to programming or raising these fees on the most vulnerable.
“That means ensuring the licence fee is set independently.”