Posted by: westlancashirerecord | December 9, 2018

Should Older People Be Switched Off?

Save Free TV for Older People. For over a million of our oldest citizens the TV is their constant companion and window on the world. And now it’s under threat, as a campaign by the  shows.

The BBC, you know them as the Brexit Bashing Clowns, the Trustees nobody trusts with public money, is considering removing free TV licences from the over-75s. But, to be fair to the BBC, oh, go on then, this is really the Government’s doing. They have pushed the scheme onto the BBC without asking any of us what we think or providing the funding to sustain it.

The BBC is rife with extravagance. For many years the free TV licence has been part of the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) remit, and quite rightly has been seen as part of government’s wider welfare role in tackling social isolation among the older generation.

Successive governments have avoided improving the state pension, and instead have offered older people individual concessions, such as the free TV licence for the over 75s. According to the OECD, the UK state pension is the least adequate in the developed world. Removing this concession, without addressing the value of the state pension is therefore grossly unfair.
In any democracy, access to information is crucial to enable citizens the opportunity to be informed and make decisions.

Loneliness among older people is now regarded as a growing problem. 1 in 4 pensioners view the TV as their main form of companionship. The provision of such a concession should therefore be seen as playing a vital role in tackling this problem. However, the BBC has no such obligation or responsibility to tackle such issues. This is the responsibility of government.

As such, the concession is clearly funded from general taxation by society as a whole. This correctly reflects the obligations that we all have – including tax paying pensioners – to make a contribution towards benefits and services which we deem to be worthy.

Around 6.5m older people have an income of less than £11,800 a year. The TV licence – as a proportion of income, therefore represents quite a considerable amount, and I have no doubt that if the concession were to be removed, many would simply be unable to pay. Means-testing a benefit costs ten times as much as is being paid universally, and experience shows that those who need it most, tend to be the ones who don’t claim.

The BBC also needs to look at its other areas of expenditure, such as the salaries paid to some of its top employees and on screen talent! before it makes a decision to cut this concession.

We want you to participate. The consultation document from the BBC is now live and will last for 12 weeks. However, the document does not include in its options for the current scheme to remain – it only gives a range of alternatives that mean pensioners will pay something towards their licence fee.

The NPC have joined together with Age UK  and 9 other older people’s organisations in a campaign to restore the responsibility for the free TV licence back to the government. It should never have been given to the BBC in the first place.

The BBC should be copying the current concession. Copying the current concession means that all households with someone over 75 would get a free TV licence. But to allow for the cost of this, we believe the BBC would have to make a large number of cuts to current programmes and services. Not to mention the huge salaries that make auto-cue news and events reading “personalities” rich. Or the ex sports personalities, the massive teams sent out to big events around the world, the huge expense claims by Trustees.

The BBC should be sold off if it can’t live within its means. Let it compete with ITV and others.

Readers can help. It’s very easy, all you need to do is click this link – http://www.ageuk.org.uk/tvpetition – and follow the steps. Thank you.


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