The NPC General Secretary, Jan Shortt, has written to Lord Botham regarding the free TV licence for over 75s. You can read and download the letter below.
Dear Lord Botham,
Re: Free TV Licences for over 75’s
The National Pensioners Convention is the largest campaigning organisation for older people in the UK. We exist to promote the welfare and interests of all pensioners, as a way of securing dignity, respect and financial security in retirement.
We have a long-running campaign to restore the free TV licences to all over 75’s by holding the government to account for abdicating their responsibility to an unelected broadcasting company that is not, nor should be, an arm of the DWP.
The free TV licence for over 75’s is part of a wider package of universal pensioner entitlements given by the government to supplement what is the most inadequate state pension in the economically developed world. The removal of this element of social welfare for older people, undermines and puts at risk the winter fuel allowance, bus pass, free prescriptions and eye tests.
It also means that those who are just above the pension credit rate by £1 or £2 face falling into poverty because the gateway that pension credit gives to other benefits is not open to them. They pay for everything with no assistance whatsoever. Poverty levels in the 75 plus age group has increased to 19% in comparison to 11% for the rest of society.
There needs to be an end to the ‘blame game’ between the government and the BBC. It is well known that the ‘deal’ done in 2015 was spurious to say the least and should have been nullified.
Older people have been caught up in this battle between the two and are the only losers in all of this.
Lord George Foulkes has involved himself at the very beginning of the campaign and is now trying to get his private members bill on the agenda for debate. Within the bill is the return of the funding for the free TV licence for over 75’s to its rightful place – the government.
As predicted, the take up of pension credit has been such that it is costing the government more than the total funding for the free TV licence. However, it has ensured that the those on very low incomes have received a top up.
We have followed your entry into the debate with interest and are now writing to you to ask that you support Lord Foulkes in his efforts to get his private members bill on the agenda and rally support for that so it has a possibility of being on the statute books and resolving once and for all the debacle caused by a government that has no understanding of what life is like for older people.
Download the letter to Lord Botham below