TV licence fee: GMB guest slams prison sentence
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Dennis Reed, from the campaign group Silver Voices, has told Express.co.uk that despite the comments from Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries on Twitter at the weekend, there have been no promises that the TV Licence fee will indeed be abolished. He said pensioners are still being asked to find £159 they can’t afford and being threatened with prison if they don’t pay.
“The days of the elderly being threatened with prison sentences and bailiffs knocking on doors, are over.”
In the House of Commons yesterday she confirmed that the £159 BBC licence fee would be frozen for two years, before looking at alternative ways to fund the corporation.
However, Mr Reed said Silver Voices members have had their hopes dashed because nothing has actually changed.
“Expectations were raised at the weekend – I had messages from members saying, ‘Oh goodie it looks like we’re not going to have to worry too much about the licence fee in the future’.
“And then of course their hopes were dashed but I’m not sure this has filtered through to many people yet.
“There was an announcement yesterday that it will be frozen for the next six years but there’s no promise that the licence fee is going to be abolished.”
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He continued: “There’s no protection for the over 75s who are currently getting enforcement notices.”
A TV licence is compulsory in the UK for people who watch live television, record programmes to watch later or use a streaming service such as BBC iPlayer.
Over 75s used to get it for free but all that changed in August 2020 when the BBC announced it would no longer be automatically free for everyone that age.
Instead it declared that over 75s would only be eligible for a free TV licence if they qualified for Pension Credit.
Figures show that more than half a million pensioners aren’t claiming Pension Credit even though they are eligible and are missing out.
That’s as many as one in three pensioners who aren’t claiming the benefit worth an extra £3,000 a year.
That works out at an additional £230 a month which could be a lifeline to someone on the state pension struggling to meet rising energy bills.
The benefit also opens the door to additional financial aid like a free TV Licence.
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Unfortunately, pensioners are the most likely generation to miss out on benefits, Mr Reed said, suggesting they are often too proud to claim state benefits.
However, more could be done to encourage them if Pension Credit was described as a top up rather than a state benefit, he said.
How much is a TV Licence in the UK?
- The fee is £159 for a year which can be split into monthly payments.
- It’s free for pensioners on Pension Credit, and half price for people who are blind or who have a sight impairment.
- Meanwhile, it’s £7.50 for individuals who live in a care home.
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