Pensioners’ anger at losing free TV licences for over 75s

A defiant pensioner says she will not pay for a TV licence if over-75s start being charged – and she will go to court if she has to.

Tuesday, 30th July 2019, 08:10 am
Updated Tuesday, 30th July 2019, 11:06 am
Sheffield Town Hall

Irene Day, of the Sheffield 50+ voluntary group, says pensioners are angry and upset at plans to change free TV licences for over 75s.

Mrs Day told a scrutiny meeting: “Our local park has a craft group and one of them said to me last week, I’m not going to pay for this TV licence, I don’t care if they take me to court.

“She is partially sighted and a little deaf. Are we prepared to let the BBC take the most vulnerable people in our society to court because they won’t – or more likely can’t – pay their TV licence?”

Four years ago, the Government stopped funding free TV licences for over 75s and gave the BBC the responsibility to decide on the future of the concession.

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The BBC has decided that from June 2020, only households in receipt of Pension Credit will be able to claim a free TV licence. Everyone else will pay £154.50 a year.

Mrs Day said many pensioners relied on their TV for company.

“I just want to tell you about a few of my elderly friends and neighbours to emphasise why a free TV licence is important to them.

“They are not special people, just ordinary people who have lived and worked in Sheffield all their lives.

“Sadly two of them died within the last 12 months, one lived across the road from me and one lived next door to me. Neither had children of their own and both had been widowed for over 15 years.

“Both these ladies relied on the TV for news, information, and entertainment but most importantly for companionship.

“Social isolation is the hidden threat to us all, young or old, but to older people it becomes part of a death sentence.”

Mrs Day said one of the neighbours was angry at the thought of losing her free TV licence.

“She was a very independent woman who did her own cleaning and gardening and her house was immaculate.

“She read the paper, she was aware of what was happening in the world, and we even discussed the removal of the TV licence. She was very annoyed, she had worked and paid taxes all her life.”

There are almost 44,000 people in the city aged over 75 but less than a quarter claim Pension Credit and charities are urging older people to check and see if they are eligible.