“There has been very little coverage of the consultation on whether those over 75 years old should get a free TV licence, so I would encourage anyone with views on this to contact the BBC before this consultation closes on 12th February”, said Councillor Kenny MacLaren (SNP – Paisley Northwest) commenting on a BBC consultation on whether over 75s should continue to receive a free TV licence.
Currently licences for over 75 years old are financed by a UK Government funded scheme but this is due to end in 2020, with the BBC taking over the costs of this policy, estimated at £745million. This has led the BBC to introduce a consultation which was launched in November 2018 and runs until 12th February 2019. A report by the BBC highlighted four options:
1. Scrap free licence fees for over 75s
2. Replace with a 50% concession for all over 75
3. Increase the age threshold for eligibility (i.e raise age threshold to 77 or older)
4. Mean-test eligibility for the concession (i.e. linking free TV licences to pension credit)
Councillor Kenny MacLaren added:
“It’s important that people have their say on this, especially those who will be affected by any change to the current rules.
“I have to say the consultation is not the best, with the BBC warning that retaining the existing free licences would impact on the amount of money they spend on programmes, effectively trying to sway how people would respond.
“It is another example of the Tory UK Government attacking older people in our society, they’ve hammered the WASPI women by denying them their state pensions and recently sneaked out changes to pension credit entitlement for couples where one of them is not yet at the state pension age, so it comes as no surprise that the Tories are behind this cut.
“I think you also have to question if we are receiving value for money from the BBC, especially in Scotland where only around 55% of the licence fee raised in Scotland is spent in Scotland, the lowest ratio of all the countries in the UK. There is also an issue with fewer people in Scotland trusting the information they receive from the BBC.”
The consultation can be accessed at: https://www.bbc.com/yoursay