I was disappointed with yesterday’s announcement that the TV licence concession for over-75s will be linked to pension credit.
The announcement follows the Government’s decision to outsource responsibility for TV licences to the BBC, despite the 2017 Conservative Manifesto promises to “maintain all other pensioner benefits, including TV licences, for the duration of this Parliament.”
Across Gwent, 23,450 households are set to lose their free TV licences as a result of the changes, with a total annual cost across all households affected of over £567,000.
There will be a lot of disappointment with the announcement, but this was an inevitable result of the UK Government offloading responsibility for funding free TV licences on to the BBC. TV licences are an important benefit for older people who suffer disproportionately from loneliness and social isolation, and I know that this announcement will be a cause of worry to many of the 3,770 households in Newport East who could lose their licences under the changes. It speaks volumes for the values and priorities of this Government that in the same week that Tory leadership candidates are championing tax cuts for the rich, they are letting down vulnerable pensioners.
On the 8th of May Labour passed unopposed an opposition day motion that stated that any changes to the existing TV licence concession must be subject to Parliamentary consent. Labour will push to have that motion upheld.