82% of Havering’s over-75s will lose free TV licence
PUBLISHED: 12:00 13 August 2020
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More than 14,000 Havering pensioners are set to lose their automatic right to a free TV licence.
A House of Commons library analysis has revealed that 14,240 homes in the borough will no longer qualify for a free licence under the new means-tested scheme, which came into force on August 1. That is 82 per cent of households with someone over the age of 75.
The new rules dictate that only households with someone in receipt of pension credit will be eligible; previously anyone aged 75 or over was exempt from the £157.50 annual charge.
Charities and campaigners have said the change will be devastating for many older people, particularly if there is a second wave of coronavirus.
The change is expected to affect around 3.2 million households across Great Britain.
Jan Shortt, general secretary of the National Pensioners Convention, said: “This is devastating for all those people who will now have to find the extra money. We’re particularly concerned about those who are only just over the pension credit limit. They’re the ones who are already making difficult decisions about how they spend their money. For those people their TV is a lifeline.”
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Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, said it was “deplorable” that any older person should face this dilemma.
She urged the BBC and the government to find a way to “keep TV free” for everyone in this age group.
The BBC confirmed it is sending letters to those affected.
A BBC spokeswoman said the broadcaster is simply following instructions: “It was the government who decided to stop funding free TV licence fees for the over-75s. The BBC isn’t making any judgements about who is or isn’t poor, as the government sets the criteria for pension credit eligibility.
“Our focus is now on making the transition as safe and easy as possible for all older people.”
She added 800 call centre staff were working to support customers.
The Department for Culture Media and Sport said the new pension credit criteria was decided by the BBC: “It decided to restrict the concession to only those in receipt of pension credit, and must now look urgently at supporting those affected.”
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