A pensioner has described the impact that changes to the TV licence fee for the over 75s will have on the working classes as another “nail in the coffin”.
From June 2020, only over-75s who receive pension credit will be eligible for a free TV licence; this means around 3.7 million households which previously received a free licence will have to pay for one.
Salford residents Thomas Pevitt, 77, and his wife Alice, 78, who is registered blind, will pay for their TV licence when the new scheme comes into effect.
Mr Pevitt, who is a retired joiner, said: “At the moment, we don’t pay because we’re both over 75. We don’t receive pension credit.
“It will impact. Well, I think the working classes have been hit by this Government left, right and centre… Austerity only affects the working classes, it doesn’t affect the rich in any way, shape or form.”
Following a public consultation, the BBC decided that means-testing pensioners and giving free licences only to those on pension credit was the fairest way to implement the changes.
The broadcaster said those who are blind, regardless of age, are entitled to a 50% discount on the cost of a TV licence, which covers the whole household.
The BBC said if it had to fund licences for all over-75s, it would have meant unprecedented closures, including the end of BBC Two, BBC Four, the BBC News Channel, the BBC Scotland channel, Radio 5 Live, and a number of local radio stations, as well as other cuts and reductions.
Mr Pevitt, who retired 11 years ago, explained that the change to TV licensing came alongside increases to some other bills, and that this move was another “nail in the coffin” for living costs.
He said: “Countless things, little bits and pieces… have all gone up in price.”
Prime Minister Theresa May’s official spokesman said about the move: “We are very disappointed with this decision.
“We have been clear that we expected the BBC to continue this concession. We want the BBC to look again at ways of supporting older people.”
Chairman of the BBC Sir David Clementi said: “Linking a free licence for over-75s to pension credit was the leading reform option. It protects the poorest over-75s, while protecting the services that they, and all audiences, love.
“It is the fairest and best outcome. It is one we can implement and endorse. This is an outcome that is the fairest possible in difficult circumstances.”
Those found to be ineligible for a free licence will have to pay £154.50 a year for a colour television and £52 a year for a black and white television.