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Gordon MP calls for free tv licenses to be saved


By Rachael Glennie

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SNP MP for Gordon, Richard Thomson, has joined calls to overturn the decision to scrap free TV licences for over 75s from August 1 - a change which will mean only those eligible for Pension Credit receive a free TV licence after that date.

The change, which links eligibility for over-75 free TV licences to Pension Credit receipt, will affect more than 300,000 older people in Scotland.

Figures show that in Gordon alone, the policy will remove free licences from over 5,000 households, leaving fewer than 900 local households eligible.

Research for charity 'Age Scotland', which is also opposing the change, has shown that TV provides companionship and information for people who are chronically lonely, with half of over 75s saying their TV or their pet was their main form of company.

Commenting, Mr Thomson said: “For many elderly people having a television is a lifeline social provision.

On that basis, it's something which the UK Treasury as the responsible government department should be funding rather than the BBC itself.

"It’s quite wrong that many will have to choose between heating and their TV this winter.

“The Conservatives promised in their General Election manifesto that they’d maintain free TV licences for older people.

They must follow through on that promise.”

Brian Sloan, Chief Executive of Age Scotland, said: “The past few months have been very hard for older people, as many struggled with isolation and loneliness during the prolonged lockdown.

For those older people the TV was a real lifeline, providing company when they were unable to see loved ones, as well as being a vital source of information about government guidelines around coronavirus.

“To choose to start charging over 75s for to watch TV at this time seems particularly cruel.

"We have called on the BBC to sit down with the UK government to sort this issue out once and for all.

"There must be a better solution than imposing a new bill on older people.”

Older people can find out if they are eligible for Pension Credit by calling the Age Scotland helpline on 0800 12 44 222, which could allow them to claim a free TV licence after the change next month.


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