Thousands of Peterborough pensioners at risk of losing free TV licences
Thousands of pensioners in Peterborough are at risk of losing their free TV licences, new research has shown.
The BBC is currently consulting on how licence fees for the over-75s should be paid for.
Currently they are financed by a government-funded scheme which is due to end in 2020, with the BBC then taking on the costs.
The BBC expects the cost of free licences to the over-75s will total £745 million - a fifth of its current budget - by 2021/22.
New analysis by the House of Commons Library for the Labour Party has revealed that thousands of households in Peterborough are at risk of losing their free TV licenses, including 4,110 people aged 80 or over, on the different proposals currently being consulted on by the BBC.
Options being considered include: scrapping the free licence fees for over-75s, giving the over-75s a 50 per cent concession, increasing the age threshold for eligibility to either 77 or 80 or means-testing them linked to pension credit.
The House of Commons Library calculated that if the free licence becomes means-tested, 4,580 households in Peterborough will lose their free licences, 2,860 of them with someone aged 80 or over.
Around the country, more than three million households would be affected.
If the eligibility age was raised to 80, 2,360 older people in Peterborough could lose their free licences – and more 1.8 million across the UK would do so.
A spokesperson for Peterborough Labour said: “The Tories are effectively forcing the BBC into ending free TV licenses for over-75s.
“We always opposed the way that the Conservatives shirked their responsibility for making sure that older people keep hold of their access to the TV. No government should outsource social policy to the Beeb – it’s totally unfair.
“If you’re an older person who’s housebound or isolated, if you don’t have much cash to rely on every month, then TV is often a vital way to stay in touch.
“How will the Government make sure over-75s keep this key benefit? This is their responsibility, not the BBC’s.”