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Saturday, 3 October 2020

Boris Johnson Accused of Inflicting Cruel TV Licence Burden on Pensioners

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson MP, has been accused of inflicting a cruel burden on British pensioners by forcing the BBC to shoulder the cost of the over-75 TV licence concession.

On 1st August 2020 the BBC introduced strict new eligibility criteria in relation to the over-75 TV licence.

Until that point every over-75 household was entitled to a "free" TV licence, which was actually paid for by the Government at an annual cost in excess of £700 million.

As part of its latest Royal Charter settlement, the BBC "accepted full liability" for the over-75 TV licence, which included shouldering the full annual cost. The BBC thought it was a great deal at the time, but now it's payment day is much less enthusiastic.

The National Pensioners Convention (NPC) blames the Government for saddling the BBC with a cost it could never afford, which in turn it has been forced to pass on to pensioner households.

Regular readers of the TV Licensing Blog will know that we have very different thoughts on the matter, but we shall entertain the NPC's perspective for the purposes of this article.

Jan Shortt, General Secretary of the NPC, told the Express: "We consistently write to the Prime Minister about this.

"We do get responses from the ministerial team at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

"We do get responses from the BBC, which is very nice of them.

"But the Prime Minister has yet to even acknowledge that we've even written to him, let alone reply."

Ms Shortt continued: "All you get, if he's interviewed about it, is him saying it's the responsibility of the BBC, but it shouldn't be.

"The Government of the day is responsible for welfare.

"Welfare is not the responsibility of the broadcasting company. It never was and never should be.

"To abdicate that responsibility towards the oldest and most vulnerable in the country is pretty damn cruel."

Despite then BBC Director General Tony Hall lauding the deal struck with the Government in 2015, the national broadcaster now thinks it has been hard done by.

Instead of having to subsidise the over-75 TV licence, it would rather spaff money up the wall on the exorbitant salaries of "talent", trendy initiatives and pandering to woke minority groups.

A BBC spokesperson said: "It was the Government that ended funding for the over-75 TV licence fee.

"The BBC made the fairest decision possible to support the poorest oldest pensioners so those over 75 and in receipt of Pension Credit are now able to claim a free TV licence paid for by the BBC.

"Critically the BBC is not making judgements about poverty as that measure is set and controlled by Government.

"We agree with stakeholders who have raised concerns about how the 2015 licence fee funding settlement was conducted - we complained at the time - and the BBC Board agrees that the process should not be repeated."

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Anonymous said...

NPC!!! How appropriate ROFL.

John Galt said...

I'm no fan of BoJo the clown, but it's idiotic to blame him or even the government over the issue with TV licenses for the over 75's. It was Gordon Brown (under Tony Bliar) that brought in the HM Treasury financed concession back in the day and it was under Dave Cameron that negotiated the transfer of responsibility to the BBC under Tony Hall.

Boris is right to criticise the BBC and put the problem firmly in the BBC's court. They turned this problem into a shit show with their wild excesses and crying poverty now is the most obvious lame excuse in the book.

I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that Tim Davie fails to get the Beeb under any meaningful control and the review of BBC TV Licensing comes firmly against allowing the TV License regime to continue beyond 2027.

Time for the BBC to make its own way in the work instead of leaching off the general public.