Havering MP says decision to make over 75s pay TV licence fee will lead to isolation and loneliness
PUBLISHED: 07:00 12 June 2019 | UPDATED: 09:30 13 June 2019
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A Havering MP said the BBC's decision to make over-75s pay for their TV licence will have a "devastating" impact on the older generation in the borough.
The BBC confirmed plans on Monday, June 10 to make people over the age of 75 pay the £154.50 fee.
In 2015 the responsibility for free TV licences for over 75s passed to the BBC and in November 2018 the broadcaster opened a 12 week consultation on TV licences for older people.
More than 190,000 people shared their views.
People who can provide evidence that they claim pension credit - a means-tested benefit designed to help older people - will continue to receive a free TV licence from the BBC.
However, Rainham and Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas, explained that while "hundreds of thousands" of people are eligible for pension credit, many will not know how to apply and those who are living in poverty won't qualify.
He wrote to Jeremy Wright, the secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, after his office was "inundated" with correspondence from concerned residents.
"This ill thought out policy will undoubtedly have a devastating impact on the older generation, leading to further instances of isolation and loneliness in society," said the Rainham and Dagenham MP.
"With an ageing population this decision will hit thousands of elderly residents in my constituency alone.
"I have no doubt that when this policy comes in it will leave thousands of vulnerable people falling through the gaps."
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The MP called on the government to reclaim responsibility for the funding the free TV licences for the over 75s.
June Morley 89, and her husband, Bert Morley, 92, are on the executive committee of the Havering over 50s Forum.
"I think it's really a big shame," said June from Romford.
"I can't say that we're hard up but we will notice the difference. We do like to watch TV and we don't get to go out as much as we used to.
"It's quite a lot of money and some older people can't afford it. They are on their own and that's all the entertainment they will get."
Romford MP Andrew Rosindell said that he will campaign to restore the free TV licence for over 75s.
He said: "Our older British citizens, who have paid their taxes, worked hard all their lives and in some cases, have served in our military, deserve this benefit and it should not be taken away from them.
"For many elderly people, television represents their connection to world outside their home, with wonderful drama, comedy and the latest news.
"To be forced to choose between having this window onto the world, or feeding themselves or heating their homes, is utterly unacceptable.
Our Government has been very clear that they want and expect the BBC to continue this concession to the over 75s."
Changes to the TV licence policy for over 75s will come into effect in June 2020.