Oldham West and Royton MP slams Government over over-75's TV licences

North Antrim MP Ian Paisley

Charity Age UK branded the policy a "cruel move", saying: "Lots of older people have struggled throughout their working life to save a little extra for retirement".

TV star Christopher Biggins said it was "wrong" to means-test older people.

In 2015, ministers decided the BBC would take over the cost of providing free licences for over-75s by 2020 as part of the licence fee settlement.

Instead, following a consultation process with nearly 200,000 people, the scheme will now be means tested.

Conservative MP Ed Vaizey, who was a culture minister from 2010 to 2016, said ministers should "either take back this policy or support the BBC changes".

"Many older people in Nottingham North will be left feeling isolated and alone".

"Given the vast amount of Benefits which go unclaimed by those entitled to it, and this has been the case for decades, while I encourage pensioners to apply for pension credit, in the meantime, at the very least the unclaimed Pension Credit element should be used by the UK Government to fund free TV licences for the over 75s". I really am disgusted, the fact that many of our older people are struggling to make ends meet and provide for themselves, it's bad.

"This has not been an easy decision", he said.

Why has the Government passed on what is essentially a welfare benefit to a media broadcaster?

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The broadcaster said the futures of networks including BBC2 and BBC4, as well as radio stations, would have been at risk had the licences continued to be provided for nothing.

"It's those who are struggling to get by and can't even afford the basics that I'm anxious about". "I think the government forced their hand". They should be held accountable for this poor decision and made to reverse it.

The TV presenter and adventurer's pledge came as an Age UK petition calling for free television for the elderly to be protected hit more than 350,000 signatures.

Those found to be ineligible for a free licence will have to pay £154.50 a year for a colour television and £52 a year for a black and white television.

In a joint statement released on Monday, the BBC's chairman, Sir David Clementi, and Director General Tony Hall said continuing the Government's scheme would have had a "severe impact" on services and that the new model "represents the fairest possible outcome".

The BBC has said that restricting free licences to only over-75s on Pension Credit is the fairest option.

Currently, the £850,000 cost of free TV licences for those aged over 75 on the island is met by the Isle of Man treasury, but was due to be covered by the BBC from 2020.

Around 3.7 million pensioners will lose out, it is thought.

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