Plans announced by the BBC to scrap free TV licences for millions of people over 75 are retrograde and will heighten elderly isolation, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, Unite said today (Monday 10 June).

Commenting Unite assistant general secretary for retired members Steve Turner, said: “This is retrograde step for millions of pensioners who now face either losing access to a lifeline or jumping through hoops to get it for free.

“It ends the universal nature of a free TV licence for over 75s and could price older people living in isolation out of receiving an important link with their community and the wider world.

“For many older people unused to claiming benefits and often declining to do so even when entitled, forcing them to claim complicated pension credits over the phone or with the assistance of services cut to the bone by years of government austerity is a disgrace.

“I would urge the BBC to reconsider and the government to take back its responsibility to fund this lifeline by providing the funding needed to ensure all over 75s get a free TV licence from general taxation.

“If these plans go ahead we will see people in their later years who are dependent on their treasured TV for news and companionship cut off from the outside world and forced to give it up, or even fined for viewing without a licence.”

ENDS

For more information please contact Alex Flynn Unite head of media and campaigns on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869 

Notes to editors:

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.