Meanwhile GMB host Piers Morgan highlighted the tough times elderly people required not to go outside for much of the coronavirus lockdown had endu
Meanwhile GMB host Piers Morgan highlighted the tough times elderly people required not to go outside for much of the coronavirus lockdown had endured – adding: “Shame on the BBC”. The broadcaster had postponed the axing of the universal entitlement for pensioners because of the pandemic, with means-testing was pushed back from June 1 to August 1. However, the corporation has now said the new scheme will begin on August 1.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK said: “At Age UK we’re bitterly disappointed by this decision on behalf of the millions of over 75s who have had a torrid time over the last few months and for whom this must feel like another kick in the teeth, during a terrible year.
“Many older people on low incomes have told us that if they have to find £150 plus a year to pay for a licence then they will have to forego some other essential, or try to survive without TV at all.
“We genuinely worry about the mental health of older people living on their own in this situation if they have to give up their cherished TV – for some it really is all they have and their main way of alleviating their chronic loneliness.”
Mr Morgan tweeted: “Disgusting. What an appalling way to treat the eldest people in our society after all they have been through this year. Shame on the BBC.
Former Brexit Party MEP Martin Daubney posted: “Great to see the BBC has got its priorities right.
“Announce plans to spend £100 million on ‘diverse and inclusive’ content – then axe the free licence to over 75s.”
READ MORE: POLL- after shock warning, are you worried about UK break-up? VOTE
“The Corporation’s settlement – to which they agreed – is generous and sufficient.”
However some Labour MPs suggested the Government itself bore some responsibility.
Cardiff Central MP Jo Stevens, Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “Many over-75s have spent months at home with TV providing an invaluable source of company during the pandemic.
“For the Government to blame the BBC who are having to contend with huge cuts is simply passing the buck.”
Justifying the decision, BBC chairman Sir David Clementi said: “The decision to commence the new scheme in August has not been easy, but implementation of the new scheme will be COVID-19 safe.
“The BBC could not continue delaying the scheme without impacting on programmes and services.
“Around 1.5 million households could get free TV licences if someone is over 75 and receives Pension Credit, and 450,000 of them have already applied.
“And critically, it is not the BBC making that judgment about poverty. It is the Government who sets and controls that measure.
“Like most organisations, the BBC is under severe financial pressure due to the pandemic, yet we have continued to put the public first in all our decisions.
“I believe continuing to fund some free TV licences is the fairest decision for the public, as we will be supporting the poorest, oldest pensioners without impacting the programmes and services that all audiences love.”