From Rosie Cooper MP “The House of Commons Library has calculated local figures with 6,820 older households in West Lancashire at risk of losing their free TV licences. If the age threshold is raised to 80, 2,780 local pensioners will lose their TV licence. If free TV licences are means tested 5,010 will lose their free licences”.
Capita, a company that should best be dealt with at arm’s length if they call at your door, is paid circa £59 million a year by the BBC to collect licence fees, and its staff are awarded bonuses for targets.
Likewise Regional Enterprise (RE), a company controlled by Capita, provides everything from planning and building control to trading standards, highways, cemetery and crematorium services, regeneration, and environmental health. It allowed an employee to indulge in fake property transactions and he raked in £2million due to Capita/RE “incompetence of scandalous proportions”.
Today, the BBC has introduced its new scheme to force people over 75 to pay for their TV licence, unless they receive Pension Credit. Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan had launched a public consultation on whether non-payment of the TV licence fee should remain a criminal offence. Currently, anyone who watches or records live TV or uses iPlayer without a TV licence is guilty of a criminal offence and could go to prison. Baroness Morgan said it was time to think about keeping the fee “relevant” in a “changing media landscape”.
The BBC said a 2015 review found the current system to be the fairest. Well, they would, wouldn’t they? The consultation, which would last eight weeks with the government publishing its response this summer, will also look at the viability of an alternative enforcement scheme. Decriminalisation would not mean payment would become voluntary. It could instead mean it would become a civil offence similar to non-payment of council tax or an electricity bill.
TV Licencing insisted the elderly would not be hounded and that it has “considerably increased” staff in its customer support office for when applications begin today.
The incomes of the BBC targets? A single person in 2020/21 will get £134.25 a week of basic state pension, that’s £6,981 a year. If you’re married, and you and your partner have built up the full number of state pension qualifying years, you’ll get double that amount, so £268.50 a week. But the Government decided that women who paid the married woman’s stamp at any point in the 35 years before reaching pension age should be entitled to 60 per cent of the basic state pension a week if they are still married.
The main thing to remember is you do not need to pay for anything until you receive your letter from TV Licensing. These should land on your doorstep in August or September. AgeUk states “We will let you know as soon as we know what the letter looks like so please keep an eye out for scams in the meantime.
“We are already seeing the warning signs of administrative chaos, and we hope this will make the Government realise just how foolish it was to transfer a welfare benefit to the BBC. Lastly, now is the ideal time to check whether you might qualify for Pension Credit which not only gets you a free TV licence but would secure you thousands more pounds a year to top up your pension”.
Philip Davies MP, who sits on the Commons digital, culture, media and sport committee, said pensioners may end up in court for not paying. “Is that really where the BBC wants to go with this?” And Peter Bone, one of more than 60 Tory MPs who wrote to BBC director-general Lord Hall to complain, said “It’s just mean and nasty”.
TV Licencing, which is Capita Ltd, has advertised for “Visiting Officers” Job Description: Enforcement Officer; In this role you will be visiting addresses that don’t have a valid TV Licence. You will explain the legislation, help the customer understand our payment options and where necessary conduct an interview under caution. Salary: £21,216 basic salary plus commission (annual average is £5,856 but earning potential is uncapped) Core Responsibilities: include “Maintain an effective deterrent against evasion of the TV licence Maximise sales for the BBC. Enforce prosecution proceedings by taking Records of Interview under caution”.
The last word today comes from a lady pensioner who has slammed the BBC’s decision to scrap the licence fee waiver for over 75s, saying that she would rather go to prison than pay the corporation £157 a year. Ivy Siegfried. 82, from Inverclyde in Scotland, told This Morning hosts Rochelle Humes and Dermot O’Leary that she would happily go behind bars as at least she’d get ‘three meals a day, a room and a free TV’.
Will the Capita “incompetence of scandalous proportions” be seen in West Lancashire as its enforcers appear on our streets, earning their “uncapped potential”? You bet they will.