BBC shame: Broadcaster ignoring ‘universal benefit’ of free TV licence for over-75s

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Silver Voices director Dennis Reed argued that the BBC’s benefit for free TV licencing for the over-75 was very significant to a large swathe of the older community. During an interview with the Express.co.uk, Mr Reed insisted the implementation of it was unfair as the rate of the state pension had not risen much in the UK compared to other nations. He added that by losing the TV licence benefit and the state pension rate remaining the same, more over-75s will have less money.

Mr Reed said: “BBC TV licencing being free for the over-75s is important because this is a universal benefit, it is quite a small benefit but it is very significant for a large number of people.

“It was introduced about 20 years ago and it was introduced, like the winter fuel allowance, to compensate for the fact that basic state pension in the UK is a lot lower than most other developed countries.”

Mr Reed argued why scrapping the free TV licencing was unfair for the over-75s.

He said: “Instead of raising the level of state pension over time, the Government introduced these specific allowances.

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“Things like free licencing and the winter fuel allowance.

“Now the state pension is still at the bottom in comparison to that of developed nations.

“Another reason is that if you think of someone who is 75 or 80, they have been paying taxes for 50 or 60 years.

“They have been paying the licence fee for 50 or 60 years and the least they deserve in the last few years of their lives, when they depend on television, is this benefit.”

Mr Reed closed by reflecting on the feeling around the country on this move by the BBC and why he and his campaign group will continue to oppose it.

He said: “There is a lot of anger around about this benefit being taken away.

“It is all very well to talk about a few rich pensioners who can easily afford to pay this amount.

“We at Silver Voices are arguing for the 2 million over-75s that will struggle to pay this licence fee.”

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After being contacted by Express.co.uk, the BBC responded to Mr Reed’s comments. 

A spokesman for the company said: “It was the Government who decided to stop funding free TV licences for the over 75s.

“The BBC Board believes the fairest option is to help the poorest older pensioners. Around 1.5 million households could get free TV licences if someone is over 75 and receives Pension Credit.

“Critically, it is not the BBC making that judgement about poverty, it is the Government who set and control who is eligible for Pension Credit and what level of payments are made.”

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