Tories’ TV licence betrayal of over-75s could backfire in bill for £855million.
Pension Credit costs will hit the Treasury but the Government thought that forcing the BBC to fund the lifeline would save them £745m a year – Age UK are encouraging an estimated 590,000 eligible over-75s to claim the benefit.
1ST AUGUST 2020.
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The Tories’ free TV licence betrayal of over-75s could backfire and cost the Treasury £855million more every year as campaigners encourage OAPs to sign up for Pension Credits.
From today only those over 75 and receiving the credit will get the benefit, which will leave an
estimated 3.7 million OAPs £157.50 out of pocket every year.
The Government thought that forcing the BBC to fund the lifeline would save them £745m a year, but Office for Budget Responsibility figures show the amount of unclaimed pension credits stands at £1.6billion annually.
The increased costs from more claims could mean the Government pays out an extra £855m every year.
National Pensioners Convention General Secretary Jan Shortt with a ripped up TV licence during a protest outside BBC Newcastle.
Age UK are encouraging an estimated 590,000 eligible over-75s to claim the Pension Credit, which is means-tested, they are due.
The BBC says keeping licences free for all over-75s would mean closing BBC2, BBC4, the BBC News Channel, BBC Scotland and Radio 5 Live.
Caroline Abrahams, of charity Age UK said successful claimants “could find themselves £2,000 better off a year”.
National Pensioners’ Convention carried out a series of protests.
Over-75s have been entitled to a free TV licence since 2000.
The BBC is being forced to restrict the benefit to people on Pension Credit after the Tories broke a 2017 manifesto promise to keep licences free.
We reported how pensioners took to the streets yesterday to protest the move.
A Downing Street spokesman said the BBC “must now look at how it can use its income to deliver for all ages by making efficiencies.”
BBC chairman David Clementi on how organisation will still help pensioners in need.
Sir David Clementi, Chairman of the BBC, writes for the Mirror and breaks down the ‘myths’ around the new TV license scheme and promises the organisation will still help pensioners in need.
Sir David Clementi, Chairman of the BBC
1ST AUGUST 2020
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So much of what has been said about the BBC’s new TV licence scheme for over 75s is either misleading or wrong.
I want to break down some of the myths, because it’s important that pensioners in particular really understand what’s changed.
First, the BBC has not decided to take free licences away from over 75s. It was the Government who funded free licences in the past; it was the Government who decided to stop paying for them.
The BBC thought long and hard about what we could do to create and fund a new scheme to help those who need it most.
The result is that any household with someone aged over 75 who receives pension credit is now entitled to a free TV licence, paid for by the BBC.
In other words, we’re providing extra help to those older pensioners who, according to the Government, need it most.
Sir David Clementi was the Government’s preferred candidate to be the BBC’s new chairman.
These are people who have worked hard all their lives. They are among the most likely to feel lonely or isolated. Some are vulnerable. The coronavirus crisis has highlighted just how much many rely on TV and radio for day-to-day companionship.
Some say that the BBC has somehow gone back on what was agreed. But there was never any agreement that the BBC would keep the Government scheme going. Both Government ministers and the BBC recognised at the time that change was likely.
Partly that’s because copying the Government’s scheme would have cost us £745 million a year. That’s equivalent to the combined budget of BBC Two, BBC Four, the BBC News Channel, the BBC Scotland channel, Radio 5live, plus some of our local radio stations and more. And the cost would rise to £1 billion a year by the end of the decade.
That would mean substantial cuts to our services. It would mean a BBC very different from the one we know our oldest audiences in particular depend on.
Some say we could afford to do more if we stopped employing our biggest stars. In fact, even if we employed no presenters paid over £150,000, we would only save £10 million per year. The figures simply don’t add up. And 4 out of 5 members of the public tell us they want the BBC to feature the highest quality presenters, actors and reporters.
So this was a tough decision for us to have to take. But we believe it’s the fairest possible.
Our focus now is on two priorities.
First, safety. In this health crisis, we have spent the past few months making sure no one will need to leave their home to claim for a free TV licence or to pay for one.
Second, care. We’ve set up special contact centres to help people during this time. We know many will need specific support, so we’ve been working with organisations such as the Alzheimer’s Society and RNIB to make sure the needs of vulnerable people are taken into account.
Already we’ve received over 450,000 applications for a free licence. Around 1 million more are eligible.
No one needs to do anything immediately. Everyone will receive guidance in the weeks ahead. Everyone will have the time and support they need to make the transition to the new scheme.