BBC workers pledge to continue fight to save free TV licences for over-75s

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BBC workers have vowed to keep fighting to save free TV licences for the over-75s.

In the latest boost for the Mirror’s campaign, members of the Bectu broadcasting union unanimously backed a bid to keep battling plans to curb or axe the lifeline.

Bectu chief Philippa Childs said: “Our members, BBC workers and the British public deserve better and not a reduction in democratic access to a public service broadcaster.”

Currently all households with someone aged 75 or over are entitled to a free licence.


The Conservatives pledged at the 2017 snap election to preserve the benefit.

But the party had already stitched up a deal for the BBC to take responsibility for funding the £745million-a-year perk from June 2020.

The corporation will announce within weeks its plans for the future of free licences.

Options include scrapping them altogether, replacing them with a 50% concession for all over-75s, lifting the threshold for eligibility to 77 or 80, or means-testing so those who get pension credits are able to claim the benefit.


Delegates at Bectu’s conference in Brighton overwhelmingly supported a motion urging ministers to accept they should remain responsible for funding the licences.

The motion said: “The free television licence for over-75s is a welfare benefit, and as such responsibility for funding should remain with the Government.

“Passing responsibility for this benefit to the BBC will cost it up to 20% of its income.

“It is a regressive tax for people on lower incomes and further burdens people in that group.

“Conference instructs Bectu to campaign and lobby the Government on the issue of television licence fees for the over-75s.”

The Mirror, Age UK, the National Pensioners Convention, Bectu, all Opposition parties, former PM Gordon Brown and Royle Family star Ricky Tomlinson have all supported the fight to preserve the benefit.

Protesters took their fight to New Broadcasting House earlier this year

More than 18,000 of our readers have backed our crusade by completing coupons in the paper and nearly 125,000 people have signed Age UK’s Switched Off petition.

Ms Childs added: “This year’s conference saw Bectu delegates, including BBC workers, unanimously carry a proposition to instruct us to continue to campaign and lobby on the issue of television licence fees for the over-75s.

“This sends a clear message to the Government, who are choosing to mask their financial failure to maintain yet another public service by refusing to accept any responsibility and would instead seek to make cuts to a fifth of the BBC’s output.”

Asked by MPs in September to guarantee licences will remain free, BBC director-general Lord Hall said: “I can’t give you a guarantee it will continue.

“The concession, as formulated, comes to an end in June 2020.

“We have got to decide what will replace it.”



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