Keep free TV licences for over-75s says MSP

Wednesday June 12th 2019

BBC Scotland

Written by Midlothian View reporter, Luke Jackson

MSP Christine Grahame has called for the UK Government to intervene following the news that the BBC will end the blanket free TV licences for over-75s which she says contradicts the 2017 Conservative party manifesto promising to “maintain” pensioner benefits, “including free bus passes, eye tests, prescriptions and TV licences, for the duration of this Parliament”

The free licence currently benefits around 4.5 million households across Scotland and the UK, but the new rules would see only those claiming Pension Credit being eligible for a free licence. This follows recent cuts to eligibility for Pension Credit by the UK Government which means that a pensioner married to someone below pension age, will no longer be able to make a claim for it.

Ms Grahame says that at present some 40% of pensioners entitled to Pension Credit do not claim it, adding to the £10 billion each year which goes unclaimed in benefits of which 3.5 billion is unclaimed Pension Credit to which people are entitled.

The SNP has committed to raise the issue at the earliest opportunity in the House of Commons and to continue calls for the UK Government to step in to fund the free TV licenses for over 75s.

Commenting, Ms Grahame said:

“The Tories simply cannot be trusted on delivering for Scotland’s older people.

“The UK already has the lowest state pension in the developed world – our older people need more financial support, not less, especially when living costs are rising.

“Given the vast amount of Benefits which go unclaimed by those entitled to it, and this has been the case for decades, while I encourage pensioners to apply for pension credit, in the meantime, at the very least the unclaimed Pension Credit element should be used by the UK Government to fund free TV licences for the over 75s. That benefit money exists for older people, and would be better going towards this than sitting unused in the Treasury.

“After years of Tory austerity, and the deep financial uncertainty of Brexit, the last thing our older people need is the extra burden of £154.50 to their household bills.

“The Tories in the UK government should divert their attentions from their current leadership pageant and U-turn on their broken manifesto promise and fully fund the TV licence for our older people.”

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