The BBC is hurting pensioners to save money. Yet Gary Lineker still earns £1.75m. What’s that about?

PUBLISHED: 16:58 12 June 2019 | UPDATED: 16:58 12 June 2019

Highly-paid BBC presenter Gary Lineker

Highly-paid BBC presenter Gary Lineker

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Rachel Moore thinks the BBC should have looked at other ways to save money rather than scrapping free TV licences for over 75s

As the £1million a year BBC stars munched their morning smashed avocado on artisan seeded loaf yesterday morning, tens of thousands of their over 75 viewers raged against their paymaster.

Safe in the knowledge of their next lucrative contract, thanks to their rottweiler agents, their elderly viewers learned their licence to watch them would no longer be free.

BBC chairman Sir David Celenti said scrapping free TV licences for all over 75s, apart from the 900,000 on pension credit benefit, had been a "very difficult decision" but the "fairest and best outcome." For whom?

A statement reminiscent of the line-up of Tory party leader hopefuls who claim to understand how the rest of us live but have no clue about the cost of a pint of milk, what it's like to make a tight budget stretch to put food on the table and the lights on for a family, or ever think: "I can't afford to do this."

From next year, free TV licences will only go to single OAPs over the age of 75 with a weekly income of less than £167.75 or couples with a weekly income of less than £255.25 will continue to qualify for the free TV licence.

Now, I'm all for concessions for old people in recognition for their contribution to society, but letting off retired judges, surgeons, government ministers and TV executives the £154 does stick in my craw a bit.

It's small change down the back of the Chesterfield to them.

Why do they need a free TV licence when NOTHING is being done to help young people? That is unfairness, especially with the number of pensioner households escalating rapidly and today's young people facing being the first generation for decades who will be worse off than the previous generations.

But it doesn't jar as much as snatching the licence away from all the low-income pensioners - at least 650,000 according to Age UK, but likely to be more.

These are the very people who can't afford to get out and about and rely on the television, day and night, for companionship, information and entertainment. This feels like theft from the most vulnerable by our national broadcaster.

Of course, this is real people getting in the way of a rumpus between the BBC and the government, who passed the £754 million responsibility for the concessions to the BBC.

Real people living lives that neither of the above have much clue about.

And since when did the BBC become a welfare benefit provider? And, with its record on equal pay, would we ever want it to be? But we mustn't forget its hefty £4billion subsidy - and it never helps itself with its too-smug, entitled attitude and simmering superiority.

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Add into the equation the soaraway pay in its bubble of privilege, and it is not covering itself in glory.

The government needs to take back responsibility but make it fairer - and really means-tested with those who can afford it paying for it to ensure those who can't have the concession.

But hell will freeze over first. Shifting responsibility to the BBC was its austerity attitude in practice. Now it's someone else's problem.

Interestingly, not one BBC star has spoken out and shouted, "out of order", offering to take any pay cuts to help those signing petitions demanding for a reversal of the decision to penalise their elderly viewers.

If they had any social conscience at all, they would be standing up now on behalf of those who need it.

No one deserves freebies just because they are old - but if their income makes it difficult to afford it that is a different matter.

It's like the child benefit system before changes. It was ludicrous that everyone received it regardless of need. I knew people who banked every penny and bought a spanking new car for their child when they were 18. That's not what it was meant for.

Jeremy Corbyn tweeted that pensioners had spent their lives contributing to society so free licences "is not too much to ask."

It is too much to ask though - for many, but not all. If £154 doesn't have a severe impact on annual income, then that household doesn't need a free licence. It's the argument for winter fuel payments again.

There's a fairness line to be drawn somewhere - and this week's news is not a fair solution to an unfair problem about a system that is so outdated now and belongs in the past.

Television watching habits have changed so much, with digital streaming taking over from traditional viewing, is the old licence still relevant and appropriate in our digital world?

Without scrapping the concession, the BBC said it would have to make "unprecedented closures."

The smug BBC is riding on the crest of its great drama wave, with the Bodyguard, Line of Duty, Gentleman Jack, Killing Eve, Fleabag and more winning it plaudits and newfound respect.

Its reaction? To become even more insufferable to those it is supposed to be serving.

And all the time Gary Lineker is still earning £1.75million.

There's a compromise here based on need. The BBC and its 'stars' would gain much for making the sensible and compassionate move.

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