Pensioners protest in Norwich over end of free TV licence
PUBLISHED: 09:36 01 August 2020 | UPDATED: 09:36 01 August 2020
A group of pensioners took to the streets of Norwich to protest against the scrapping of the universal free TV licence for over-75s.
Members of the Anglia Region Pensioners Association (Anglia NPC) organised in Millennium Plain, outside The Forum where BBC Look East is based, on Thursday.
Angry protesters tore up facsimile TV licences to “express our disappointment at the loss of an automatic free licence for over-75s”.
Anglia NPC chair Chris Brooks said: “Millions who have enjoyed this government-provided universal benefit since November 2000 as payment in kind to supplement the lowest state pension in Western Europe, now have to restart paying unless they possess pension credit which was determined by an unelected body and not the government.
“This means, amongst others, centenarians like recently-knighted Captain Sir Tom Moore, having deservedly enjoying the benefit for nearly 20 years, are not now sufficiently appreciated by this supposedly sixth richest country in the world.
“The NPC may be forgiven for thinking we now live in Little Britain not Great Britain.”
From August 1, the BBC will means-test the entitlement, having previously delayed its introduction because of the pandemic.
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Over-75s must receive pension credit to receive the free TV licence, which costs £157.50.
Charity director of Age UK Caroline Abrahams described the implementation of the new rules “a sad day for our older population”.
The BBC has said it cannot afford to continue the universal entitlement, which would hit “programmes and services”.
TV Licensing will write to all over-75 licence holders from August, outlining what action to take.
A BBC spokeswoman said “it was the Government that ended funding for over-75s TV licences” and that the “BBC has made the fairest decision possible to support the poorest, oldest pensioners”.
She added: “Critically, it isn’t the BBC making judgments about poverty – the Government sets and controls pension credit.
“The decision to start the new scheme in August has not been easy but delaying the introduction has cost the BBC over £70million and we cannot afford to delay any further.
“Continuing with the Government scheme would have cost £745m a year and rising” and would have meant the closures of BBC Two, BBC Four, the BBC News Channel, the BBC Scotland channel, Radio 5 Live, and a number of local radio stations.
“These closures would profoundly damage the BBC for everyone, especially older people who use the BBC the most.”
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