Scepticism over ending ‘outdated’ pensioner benefits, such as free TV licences, to help young

PUBLISHED: 13:19 26 April 2019 | UPDATED: 13:48 26 April 2019

Suggestions have been made to limit free bus passes for older people. Photo: Angela Sharpe

Suggestions have been made to limit free bus passes for older people. Photo: Angela Sharpe

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Suggestions by peers that free TV licences for pensioners should be abolished and bus passes limited, to help rebalance benefits towards the young, have been questioned in Norfolk.

Rebecca White, founder of Your Own Place, which helps train young people in Norfolk. Photo: SubmittedRebecca White, founder of Your Own Place, which helps train young people in Norfolk. Photo: Submitted

A cross-party Lords committee has made recommendations to the government, with chairman Lord True saying benefits must be rebalanced towards the young to prepare the country for 100-year lifespans.

He said: “We are calling for some of the outdated benefits based purely on age to be removed. Policies such as the state pension triple lock and free TV licences for over-75s were justified when pensioner households were at the bottom of the income scale but that is no longer the case.”

Lord True says the government should ensure councils have policies to meet housing needs of younger and older people and for those in the 'gig' economy to have the same rights as other workers.

Helen Burgess, from online elderly care database Age Space Norfolk said: “We agree that some older people do not need these free services and perhaps a fairer system could be developed which would benefit those that really need it. Means testing or individuals in receipt of certain benefits should be eligible for the free services.

Dan Mobbs, chief executive of the Mancroft Advice Project. PHOTO: Nick ButcherDan Mobbs, chief executive of the Mancroft Advice Project. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

“However, we don't feel the financial saving should necessarily be taken away from older people services. Rather it should be reinvested to help older people maintain their independence and keep active.”

Rebecca White, of Norwich-based social enterprise Your Own Place, which helps prevent homelessness amongst young people, said it should not be a case of funding either young people or older people.

She said: “The discussion about TV licences is a totally political one which create divides and distractions. My feeling is there's a lot of very clever people working in the government who know what is around the corner and should be concentrating on future proofing policies.”

Dan Mobbs, chief executive of the Mancroft Advice Project, questioned how many young people were spoken to in the report's production.

He said: “When we speak to young people, they say there are issues with housing and with the gig economy.

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“But their biggest issue is that they are really concerned with the environment, which isn't mentioned in this report.”

Frank Peasgood. Pic: Sean Meleady.Frank Peasgood. Pic: Sean Meleady.

What the public say:

SEAN MELEADY asked people in Norwich what they thought of the recommendations:

Frank Peasgood, 78, a retired fruit and vegetable merchant from Norwich, said: “I'm against these proposals as I get a free TV licence and a bus pass.

“They are saying the elderly people don't need it because they are better off. I think they should find other ways to fund these projects for younger people. “

Lynn and Keith Hunter. Pic: Sean Meleady.Lynn and Keith Hunter. Pic: Sean Meleady.

Callum Taylor, 24, an ambulance dispatcher from Norwich said: “I don't have a TV and I don't see why older people need one, but bus passes are essential for older people.”

Keith Hunter, 64,a retired lorry driver from Sheffield said: “I totally disagree with these proposals, There is an 84-year-old lady across the way from where we live who can't get out because there is no bus.

“I spoke to my local MP about the withdrawal of bus routes but nothing has happened yet. Older people have worked all their lives for these benefits.”

Lynn Hunter, 60, a retired retail worker from Sheffield said: “Bus passes should be kept for older people but they could be means tested.”

Alex King. Pic: Sean Meleady.Alex King. Pic: Sean Meleady.

Alex King, 24, a student from Oxford, said“There is a lot more than could be done for young people in terms of education particularly in relation to mental health education and well being.”

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