As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport and Barnsley Chronicle on 25th January, thousands of elderly people in Barnsley are set to lose their TV licence in 2020, according to Stephanie .
Despite the Conservative Government promising in their 2017 general election manifesto to protect free TV licences until 2022, over 4,000 people aged over 75 in Barnsley East alone look set to lose out.
As part of the last BBC charter 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 and they are currently consulting 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.
New figures produced for the Labour Party show that under each of the changes proposed by the BBC in their consultation, millions of pensioners will lose their free licences.
The House of Commons Library calculated that were the free licence linked to pension credit, i.e. means tested, over 3 million people would lose their free licence. If the eligibility age was raised to 80 over 1.8 million older people would lose their free licences.
The House of Commons Library has also calculated local figures, with 5,880 older households in Barnsley East at risk of losing their free TV licences.
If the age threshold is raised to 80, 2,390 local pensioners will lose their TV licence. If free TV licences are means tested 4,120 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.
Said Stephanie: “The loss of a TV license will be a huge blow to older people in Barnsley who already struggle to make ends meet, and particularly to those who are housebound or isolated and rely on their TV for company.
“The Government knew what it was doing when it forced the cost of paying for free licences for over 75s out to the BBC – an outsourcing of a social policy that the Labour Party strongly opposed after introducing free TV licenses when last in Government.
“This Tory Government needs to come clean and to tell us urgently what they are going to do to ensure free TV licences for the elderly are not cut.”