Joan Bakewell has urged people in receipt of a "free" over-75 TV licence to pay the fee on a voluntary basis.
The veteran broadcaster, who has regularly appeared on the BBC over the last fifty-years, warmly described the Corporation as a "pillar of British civic life" and said it provided an essential "lifeline" to those in their twilight years.
The Labour peer slammed the Government's decision to make the BBC responsible for the annual £650m bill for providing a "free" TV licence to every over-75 household.
She said: "I think it's quite sneaky to roll out social policy disguised as a BBC contribution to austerity. It isn't for the BBC to decide how and who receives government support."
Bakewell encourages those over-75s that can afford to pay the £145.50 TV licence fee to continue doing so: "Right now I'm told the best plan is to get in touch with TV Licensing, who collect the fee, and tell them you want to start paying again. If you love the BBC, and if you can afford £2.80 a week, what are you waiting for?"
A TV Licensing spokeswoman said: "Anyone aged 75 or over is entitled to a free TV licence for their main address, however this licence is not issued automatically and needs to be applied for. If you choose not to apply for your free licence when you reach 75 then you would simply continue to pay as normal.
"Anyone who has previously applied for an over-75 licence but chooses to start paying again would need to contact TV Licensing, cancel their existing concessionary licence and then pay for a new licence via any of our standard payment channels."
As we mentioned in our earlier article on this topic, we don't consider it very likely at all that over-75s are going to forfeit what is effectively a £145.50 handout from the Government.