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.
In his response to my letter, Rt Hon Jeremy Wright QC MP, Secretary of State, admits “…the government guaranteed the over-75 concession until 2020.” After warning of the “importance of television” and the social and health aspects this connection provides, “particularly for older people,” the Secretary of State is comfortable in inflicting this exact harm.
This disastrous policy has insured that Delyn pensioners yet again are losing out because of the UK government. I was proud to serve in a Labour Government which introduced free TV licenses for the over-75s. We knew then as we know now, ignoring pensioner poverty means that you’re ignoring the health and wellbeing of people who have contributed so much to this country.
This is just another example of the UK Government’s ideologically driven austerity and short-sightedness. They have put the welfare of the people in the backseat and put the financial burden on those least able to afford it.
The extra £573,405 the over-75s will now have to pay for their tv license is £573,405 less going into our local economy in Delyn. I was extremely disappointed by the Minister’s hollow words and how they are now standing idly by whilst their decisions negatively impact thousands of the least well-off in society.