Thank you for writing to me about TV licences for the over 75s. I have read your email carefully and noted the key points that you raise.
I stood on a manifesto that made clear that the BBC should do the right thing and fund TV licences for over 75s. The BBC’s decision to stop funding free TV licences for most over 75s is very disappointing indeed. It is my understanding that only those who receive the Pension Credit benefit will now be exempt.
The BBC chose to delay implementing its original decision to stop funding free TV licences for over 75s from June to August. It is a great shame that they have announced they will be going ahead with the decision from August.
For most of us, television is an important connection with the outside world that informs and entertains. It also has a role in keeping people company, and this can be especially true for some older people living on their own.
It is important to note that this is the BBC’s decision and not the Government’s, after the Government and the BBC agreed that the BBC would assume responsibility for this licence fee concession from 2020 onwards. This was part of a deal the Government reached with the BBC over four years ago, which the BBC described as a good deal that provided financial stability to the organisation through inflation linked increases of the licence fee and the important closure of the so-called iPlayer loophole. I think it is fair to say that there was an informal understanding between the Government and the BBC that the BBC would keep the over-75s free licence concession. As the BBC Director-General said at the time:
“The Government’s decision here to put the cost of the over-75s on us has been more than matched by the deal coming back for the BBC.”
Under the BBC’s current plans, the poorest pensioners will continue to be helped, as the BBC has stated that those eligible for Pension Credit will still receive a free TV licence. However, I do not believe that this is the end of the conversation about what the BBC can and should do to assist older people, and I am certainly pressing both the Government and the BBC to restore this licence fee concession in full to the over 75s.
For more information please see: https://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/age?wt.mc_id=bbc_pr_o75_english#
Thank you again for writing to me.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking