My Nan loved getting something for free!
Her bus pass was a total joy and her free TV licence was too. She was proud that she’d worked all her life and paid her taxes. She felt that these were her little bit of recognition.
But the BBC’s consultation on the future of TV Licences and who should pay for them recently closed in February — and soon that universal benefit for the over 75s could come to an end. I certainly believe that this is one of the best and simplest ways of helping our elders to feel rewarded and valued. Unfortunately as part of the last BBC Charter Review, the government devolved responsibility for the free TV licence, and the cost, to the BBC.
New research from the House of Commons Library shows that if free TV licences are scrapped altogether, this will cost over-75s in Brent North a total of £967,715 a year – almost £1million.
But perhaps the sneakiest proposal of all is to link the free licences with pension credit. I say “sneakiest” because so many do not take up their right to pension credit. In my Brent North constituency the cost to our oldest citizens would be £629,090 a year because more than 40 per cent of households entitled to pension credit have not claimed it.
I want to urge local families to speak to their relatives and friends who are pensioners and encourage them to claim the money that is rightfully theirs.
To check if eligible or make a claim call 0800 99 1234 or ask Citizens Advice to request a paper application on your behalf.