The BBC has announced they will now means test free TV licences from the over-75s. Means-testing may sound fair but in reality it means our poorest pensioners facing a big new annual bill they simply can’t afford. The Government created this problem and it is in their power to solve it. 

Eithne Gilligan, Our Head of Policy and Engagement said, “We are deeply disappointed with the decision made by the BBC to opt for means testing and to ask older people to self-declare if they receive Pension Credit in order to receive the TV licence fee concession. This decision will mean that hundreds of pensioners will face a new annual bill they simply can’t afford because, although eligible for Pension Credit, they don’t actually get it. We know from speaking to older people in Northern Ireland that the BBC’s decision will cause great anxiety and distress to those who rely on TV for companionship, their connection to the world beyond their home and to reducing loneliness. In an Age NI survey over a third (37%) of people aged 75 years and over agreed that TV was their main form of company. Older people spoke about the importance of TV to their wellbeing and described it as a lifeline. 

There will also be some anger too at the decision made by the BBC but in the end this is the responsibility of the UK Government. We hope that the new Prime Minister will intervene and provide sufficient funding to continue the concession until the BBC’s overall funding deal comes up for negotiation in 2022.”

We are calling the Government to take back responsibility for funding free TV licences for everyone over 75. We are urging everyone to sign Age UK’s petition and share it via social media and word of mouth.

Sign the petition here.

Any older person who is worried about money and/ or losing their free TV licence can call Age NI Advice Service on 0800 808 7575.