The UK’s largest campaigning organisation for older people is calling on its million-plus members to show the government how angry they are at the loss of the free TV licence for over 75’s.
The National Pensioners’ Convention is urging them to ramp up the campaign against the BBC’s decision to axe this vital universal entitlement for our oldest and most vulnerable from 1 August.
The NPC, whose members have previously marched on Parliament in protest at the threatened loss of the licence, aim to get around the Covid-19 lockdown that is keeping many older people still shielding at home by going online.
General Secretary Jan Shortt is today asking them - and their families and supporters - to flood Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Twitter account, Facebook page and mailbox with demands that he intervenes to stop the re-introduction of the licence fee as a matter of urgency.
Jan Shortt said: “I am calling on everyone to make a supreme effort between now and 31 July to show how angry we are at having the most vulnerable section of our society betrayed by the current government.
“Right now, it is very difficult for the NPC to take the action we would normally do to let the government know our feelings – but we want them to know that we will not stop campaigning until they take back responsibility and accountability for this universal entitlement.”
If the BBC goes ahead and demands payment for the £157.50 licence fee from the millions of over 75’s who are above – some only just – the pension credit level next month, it will be a devastating blow forcing many to choose between cutting down on essentials like food or heating, or being able to continue to watch TV.
Jan Shortt said: “The decision to re-impose the licence fee on over 75’s is an especially tough blow, as it comes on top of older people having to stay safe at home for months during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Many are still afraid to venture out, especially while transport services are not back to normal. If, as predicted, there is a second spike in the virus this winter, the oldest and most vulnerable will be even further isolated, and crucially unable to receive important updates to stay safe through their TV.”
The NPC fears the axing of the licence fee may just be the ‘tip of the iceberg’ in a wider government strategy to cut back on other vital universal entitlements for older people, such as the winter fuel allowance and free bus travel.
Jan Shortt said: “Back in April 2019, Lord True and his committee published a report ‘Tackling Intergenerational Fairness’ in which it was quite clear that other universal entitlements such as the winter fuel allowance and the bus pass could be subject to change. There has also been a resurgence of calls for the Chancellor to look at the Triple Lock as a way of older people paying for the downturn in the economy. The free TV licence may well be just the tip of the iceberg. So we need to act now.”
Supporters of the campaign to save the free TV licence for all over 75’s are asked to Tweet this message to the Prime Minister: @BorisJohnson promised no one over75 would pay for a #TVlicence and you would sort it. Stop blaming the #BBC. 3.7 million over 75s will now have to choose to pay to watch TV or cut down on essentials like food & fuel or lose a source of info & company #BorisPromised #SwitchedOff
For further information about the NPC’s campaign, email info@NPCUK.org
*The National Pensioners Convention was set up in 1979 to champion the rights and welfare of the UK’s older people. It now represents more than 1.5 million people in over 1,000 different organisations across the UK and holds an Annual Convention – a pensioners’ parliament - to debate issues affecting older people.