The UK Government will no longer be providing free TV licences to people aged 75 and over. The age related free licence has been available since 2000 , allowing free viewing to 4.55million households. By 2021/2022 when it will have transferred to the BBC it is estimated to cost £745million.
In 2015 the newly elected Tory Government decided to end this concession to the elderly.
Local MSP, Rhoda Grant, Labour who wrote to the Department of Digital Culture Media and Sport condemning the proposal to do away with the free TV licence concession for those over 75,has received a response from Margot James MP the Minister for Digital and Creative Industries in the UK Government.
Rhoda Grant said:
“I am advised by Margot James, that her Department are continuing with this concession until June 2020 at which point the responsibility passes over to the BBC.
” The BBC currently are consulting on this issue and they are not going to make a decision until June 2019.
” As I highlighted in my letter to the Department it is essential that those over 75 have this concession as for many the TV is the only company that they have and is the only means of communication and learning available to them.
“To have to pay the annual licence fee would further impact on the majority who are living on the bread line anyway.
“Margot James MP, advises that the Government expect the BBC to honour its commitment and will continue to provide this valued concession to those over 75.
“That said one thing is for sure, the Government will no longer fund it which would mean drastic cuts to the BBC services to enable them to continue the scheme.”
Half of the UK’s over 75s have a disability and almost a third of them live in poverty. Removing the free TV licence will result in millions of elderly people unable to watch TV programmes legally. It is reasonable to assume that many will lack the skills to use the internet if they even have access to it. The BBC will make its decision later on this year.