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Thousands of pensioners set to miss out on free TV licence

August 4, 2019 6:00 AM

Rebecca TrimnellMore than 5,000 households in Gloucester could miss out on free TV licences for the over 75s, new figures have revealed.

Research from the House of Commons Library has estimated that 5,130 households in the city could miss out under the new changes, which are proving controversial.

TV licences for the over 75s have been free since November 2000, with the concession received by around 4.5 million households nationally.

In 2015 the then Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne - free from the constraints of the Coalition Government - made the BBC from June 2020 responsible for funding the concession.

From June 2020 the BBC will have to fund the concession, rather than the Government, and in June announced new rules whereby only low-income households where one person receives the pension credit benefit will still be eligible for a free licence.

Recently the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said one in six pensioners were living in poverty and the numbers are rising.

Meanwhile, the most recent Government statistics for the take up of pension credits revealed only six out of 10 pensioners who were entitled to the benefit claimed it and only 64% of the total amount of pension credit that could have been claimed was claimed.

Dr Rebecca Trimnell, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate for Gloucester, said: "The 2017 Conservative manifesto included a commitment to maintain free TV licences for the elderly 'for the duration of this parliament'.

"The Conservatives are breaking this pledge and have transferred the delivery of welfare policy from the Government to the BBC. This is wrong.

"The ending of universal free TV licences for the over 75s is a political decision and should be for the Government and Parliament, not the BBC.

"The Government has also criticised the BBC the decision, which also undermines its independence. The Conservatives could have chosen to keep the free TV licence but have chosen not to.

"Many elderly people rely on television as one of their only sources of company and this could lead to further isolation and loneliness.

"I work in the social care sector with elderly people and I know important being able to watch television, particularly with a free TV licence.

"Around 40% of those pensioners entitled to pension credits do not claim it and with these new changes they will have to find £154.50 a year for a TV licence."