Labour secured an Urgent Question this week to hold the UK Government to account for the loss of free TV licences for over-75s announced this week. From June 2020 only those who claim Pension Credit will be eligible.
I raised my deep frustration that the Government was blaming the BBC for this decision. It is worth keeping in mind that it took an Act passed by Conservative MPs – Labour voted against it – to force the BBC to have responsibility for this welfare policy. At the time we said that it amounted to a smash and grab on the BBC budget and would cause financial hardship for pensioners. The Government ignored us and carried on regardless. Now we are in the position where a benefit created by Labour in 1999 will not see its twentieth anniversary because of Conservative cuts.
I wanted the Secretary of State to explain to me what he was going to do for the 3,810 households who will lose the free TV licence in Delyn and how the Government is going to plug the gap left in our local economy as £573,405 per year will be taken out of these pensioners pockets.
Let us be clear. The Conservative Party promised everyone at the last General Election that free TV licences for over-75s would remain in place for the duration of this Parliament. We are no more than two years in and they have broken that promise to you.