Having raised my deep concerns with the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, I am left angered by the government’s wanting response. The UK Government stand by their U-turn on the 2017 manifesto promise to provide free TV licenses to over-75s.
Free TV licenses to the over-75s was introduced by the Labour Government in 1999 to address pensioner poverty, which up until this point had been on the rise. The policy was successful and saw poverty for this age group decrease significantly. This Government reversal will see 3,810 households lose their free TV licence in Delyn alone, at a cost of £573,405 to these households each year. Read more “TV licence for over-75s: Ministerial response”
I am supporting Independent Age’s campaign to ensure that older people receive their Pension Credit.
Recent figures published by Independent Age show that an estimated 1,749 older people in Delyn are missing out on a combined £4,468,000 every year.
The campaign is calling on the UK Government see at least 75% of eligible people receive the Pension Credit by the end of 2020, at least 95% by the end of 2022, and 100% by 2025.
Pension Credit is an income-related benefit made up of 2 parts – Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit.
Guarantee Credit tops up your weekly income if its below £167.25 (for single people) or £255.25 (for couples).
Savings Credit is an extra payment for people who saved some money towards their retirement, for example a pension.
In Wales, 80,000 people are missing out on £214million. Read more “Pension Credit”
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.
I am urging constituents to take part in the consultation from the BBC on proposals to change the TV licence fee concessions.
At the moment all households with someone aged over 75 are entitled to receive free TV licences. The cost of this scheme has been funded by the UK Government since it was introduced in 2000. In 2020 the current scheme is set to come to an end, along with the Government funding for it. Any new scheme from June 2020 to provide concessions relating to TV licences for older age groups is for the BBC to consult on, decide and then pay for.
This decision is the responsibility of the BBC’s Board but the responses the BBC receives to the consultation will help them decide what to do next.
Should you wish to have your say, the BBC’s consultation is open from Tuesday 20 November 2018 to Tuesday 12 February 2019. To find out more, and to take part, go to bbc.co.uk/yoursay. If you require alternative formats (e.g Braille and audio) the consultation can be accessed by calling 0800 232 1382.
The transfer of BBC licence fee concessions to the Board of the BBC is utterly wrong. It was a way for the UK Government to shift a small, but noticeable policy decision, off its own books and into the hands of the BBC. This has allowed them to push even more austerity onto the BBC and try to dodge the blame for doing it.
At the time of this decision I stated my objections. Now the BBC is undertaking a public consultation on their future arrangements and I urge people to give their thoughts on the future of concessions.
I was proud to be part of the last Labour Government that delivered free TV licences to pensioners over the age of 75. It was an important step for cutting pensioner poverty. This policy needs to continue and I will be arguing that the UK Government should be funding it not the BBC.