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Mon, 6 April 2020

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Labour pledges to bring back free TV licences for over-75s if it wins election

Labour pledges to bring back free TV licences for over-75s if it wins election
2 min read

Labour would bring back free TV licences for the over-75s if it wins the election, the party has announced.

The BBC announced it was axeing the £154.50-a-year benefit for more than three million old people after being given responsibility for funding it at the time of the last charter renewal.

According to the corporation, maintaining the perk would have cost £745m - a fifth of its total budget - by 2021-22, forcing it to make cuts elsewhere.

Instead, from next year the free licences will only be given to over-75s who receive pension credit.

Theresa May had pledged to maintain the benefit at the last general election in 2017.

Shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson said the universal perk would be saved if Labour forms the next government.

He said: "Four in 10 older people say the TV is their main source of company, but from next year 3.7 million older people will lose their free TV licence.

"It's disgraceful. Our message is clear - vote Labour to save free TV licences."

Last month, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee said the Governmenthad been wrong to “bounce” the BBC into footing the bill.

"The next round of negotiations between the Government and the BBC, due to take place in 2021, should agree a funding formula that maintained the free over 75s licence fees,” the committee said.

A spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said at the time; "The 2015 funding settlement was agreed with Parliament and the BBC, and the then Director General said it was ‘a strong deal for the BBC’ and provided ‘financial stability’.

“Taxpayers want to see the BBC using its substantial licence fee income in an appropriate way to ensure it delivers for UK audiences.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has said the BBC should "cough up" and continue funding the free TV licences.

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