Thousands of local pensioners could lose their free TV Licence

Nearly 7,000 older people in Lanark and Hamilton East could be hit by plans to switch off free TV licences for the over-75s, despite the Conservatives promising in their 2017 general election manifesto to protect free TV licences until 2022.

TV License application for over 75s

The BBC may decide to scrap the free license or change the eligibility criteria.

As part of a deal struck between the BBC and the Government before the last BBC Royal Charter was renewed, the Government devolved responsibility for the free TV licence policy, and the cost, to the BBC. The BBC can decide what to do with the benefit from 2020.

The BBC’s consultation on a number of options including scrapping the free TV licence concession altogether, raising the eligible age to 80 and means testing it, for example by linking it to pension credit, closed this week.

New figures produced for the Labour Party by the House of Commons Library show 6,870 older households in Lanark and Hamilton East are at risk of losing their free TV licences.

It will be a terrible blow to older people in Lanark and Hamilton East

Andrew Hilland

If the age threshold is raised to 80 it will result in 2,850 local pensioners losing their TV licence. 

If free TV licences are means tested 4,930 will lose their free licences.

Free TV licences are an important benefit for older people who suffer disproportionately from loneliness and social isolation. The Campaign to End Loneliness found that 40% of older people say their television is their main source of company.

According to the charity Age UK, scrapping the free licence could potentially push around 50,000 more pensioners below the poverty line.  It could also put many elderly people at risk of a legal action for non-payment – a crime that already accounts for one in ten of the UK’s court cases.

The prospect of elderly people losing their free TV licences makes a mockery of Theresa May’s claim that austerity is over.

The Government should take responsibility and save TV licences for the elderly.

Andrew Hilland

Andrew Hilland is Labour’s candidate for Lanark and Hamilton East.

Andrew Hilland, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Lanark and Hamilton East, said:

The Tory Government knew exactly what it was doing when it forced the cost of paying for free licences for over 75s out to the BBC.

Labour was completely opposed to this and we are still firmly of the belief that the Government was totally wrong to outsource a social policy in this way.

It will be a terrible blow to older people in Lanark and Hamilton East who already struggle to make ends meet and particularly to those who are housebound or isolated and rely on their TV for company.

The Tory Government needs come clean and to tell us urgently what they are going to do to ensure free TV licences aren’t cut and they don’t break their manifesto promise. If they do nothing, responsibility for older people losing their TV licences will rest firmly at their feet.

The TV license currently costs £150.50 but the last Labour government introduced free licenses for the over 75s in 2000 as part of its efforts to combat pensioner poverty.

In 2015 the BBC agreed to accept the cost of the free license as part of a deal with the Government that secured its funding and allowed it to increase the license fee in line with inflation.  That deal was roundly condemned by Labour at the time.

As part of the deal, the BBC continued to receive funding for the free license but that runs out in June 2020 at which point the BBC can change the rules it applies or scrap the free license all together.


15th February 2019

Posted by HLSLabour


[…] care in Larkhall and speaking out on issues such as Universal Credit sanctions, the loss of free TV licenses for the over 75’s and the Tories appalling record ensuring all those eligible for Pension Credit actually receive […]

[…] Larkhall and speaking out on issues such as Universal Credit sanctions, the loss of free TV licenses for the over 75’s and the Tories’ appalling record ensuring all those eligible for Pension Credit […]

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