Labour Party starts petition to protect rights of older people

Following the Government’s choice to withdraw support for over-75s receipt of the free TV licences, the Labour Party has drawn up a petition demanding fairer treatment of older people.

Introduced in 2000, the free TV licence was introduced in recognition that the licence fee of £154.50 per year could be a cause of concern to people over the age of 75, and was noted to be a benefit to pensioners, who may suffer disproportionately from loneliness and social isolation.

However, in 2015 – as part of the BBC’s Charter renewal – the Government shifted the cost of these licences to the BBC from 2020, without the funding to sustain the policy, and, on 10 June 2019, the BBC announced that it was withdrawing free TV licences for those over 75 receive pension credit.

MPs and campaigners have voiced their concerns about this move to remove this benefit from the elderly; the House of Commons expressed – unopposed – its belief on the 8 May 2019 that the Government must stand by its pledge to maintain free TV licences during an Opposition Day motion.

Following an Urgent Question demanding the Government make a statement on this move to withdraw support for free TV licences, Tom Watson MP, Shadow Secretary of State for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said:

“Today 3.7 million over-75s find that promise in tatters. They have been betrayed, and it is shameful. The Government have the breathtaking gall to blame the BBC for this mess, but passing the buck will not work.”

Among Members that voiced their concern about this move by the Government was Member for Parliament for Torfaen, Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, who stated:

“Watching the television can be a lifeline for older people. Under this Government’s austerity measures, pensioner poverty is rising and access to a television gives older people a connection to the world outside their homes.

“I share the concern that millions of older people are going to lose their free TV licence and I fully believe that the Government should take back responsibility for maintaining the free licence, and I was pleased to share my support for this in the House of Commons during the opposition day motion.”

To sign the petition calling for the Government to protect the over-75s TV licence, visit the website here.

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