Over-75s would have to go without TV or cut back on essentials such as heating or eating if free TV licences are scrapped.

 We have called on the UK Government to take back funding responsibility for free TV licences for the over 75s

New research carried out for Age UK has found that over 40 per cent of people aged 75 and over in the UK – equivalent to just over two million people– won’t be able to afford a TV licence or will have to cut back on essentials to pay for it if the concession for the over-75s is scrapped. 

We are supporting Age UK with the Switched Off campaign and calling on the Government to urgently take back responsibility for the funding and administration of the free TV licences policy. 

People aged 75 and over are more likely than younger people to live alone which, combined with high levels of ill health and disability, can make them isolated and dependent on TV for companionship, entertainment, news and information.

We have been talking to older people about their views on plans to scrap the free TV licence and they’ve told us how important TV is to them.  We carried out a survey that showed; over a third (37%) of people aged 75 and over agreed that TV was their main form of company.  Older people spoke of the importance of TV to their wellbeing and described it as a life line.

There are only days left until the BBC’s consultation on the future of free TV licences ends. We along with Age UK are calling on the UK Government to reverse its decision to hand responsibility to the BBC for the funding and administration of the policy. Currently, free TV licences are funded by the Government but this responsibility was shifted to the BBC in a private deal without public consultation or the money to fund it from 2020.

Since its introduction in 2000, the free TV licence has been a valued universal benefit for the over-75s which provides entertainment, news and much needed company for many.  

Eithne Gilligan, Head of Policy and Engagement said: 

“Removing or limiting the concession would have a major impact on the lives of many of our oldest citizens, particularly the most vulnerable who are living with some combination of disability, low income and loneliness. The Government created this problem and it is in their power to solve it.  We urge them to stop hiding behind the BBC and accept their responsibility for free TV licences for the over-75s.”

Age NI is urging people of all ages to sign Age UK’s national petition and share it via social media and word of mouth.

Visit https://bit.ly/2QqATJV to sign 

If you or an older person you know are/is worried about money and/ or losing their free TV licence can call Age NI Advice Service on 0800 808 7575 or visit https://www.ageuk.org.uk/northern-ireland/.