Thank you for contacting me about television licences for the over 75s.
I stood on a manifesto that made clear that the British Broadcasting Corporation should do the right thing and fund television licences for over 75s. The British Broadcasting Corporation’s decision to stop funding free television licences for most over 75s is very disappointing. Only those who receive the Pension Credit benefit will be exempt.
The British Broadcasting Corporation chose to delay implementing its decision to stop funding free television licences for over 75s from June to August. It is deeply disappointing that they have announced they will be going ahead with the decision from August. In light of the restrictions placed on society because of coronavirus, this announcement is very poorly timed and will have a big impact on many of our most vulnerable members of society.
For most of us, television is an important connection with the outside world that informs and entertains. It also has a role in keeping people company, and this can be especially true for older people. This is why I was disappointed that the British Broadcasting Corporation announced the most narrowly defined option for reform of the over 75s concession.
It is important to note that this was the British Broadcasting Corporation’s decision and not the Government’s, after Parliament legislated to give the British Broadcasting Corporation the full responsibility from 2020. This was part of a deal the Government reached over four years ago, which the British Broadcasting Corporation described as a good deal that provided financial stability to the organisation through inflation linked increases of the licence fee and the closure of the so-called iPlayer loophole.
As you will be aware, even under current plans, the poorest pensioners will continue to be helped, as the British Broadcasting Corporation stated that those eligible for Pension Credit will still receive a free television licence. However, I do not believe that this is the end of the conversation about what the British Broadcasting Corporation can do to assist older people.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
James Duddridge MP
Member of Parliament for Rochford and Southend East