‘BBC must do more to support older people’: Minister blasts broadcaster for failing to help pensioners after MP calls for free TV licences to be extended to 2022
- Labour MP Gerald Jones said that pensioners were losing ‘companionship’
- He called for culture minister John Whittingdale to ‘stick to his manifesto’
- Mr Whittingdale said those on pension credit will still receive free licences
A minister has blasted the BBC for failing to support pensioners during the pandemic and calls for free TV licences to be extended to 2022.
The broadcaster agreed to take on responsibility for funding over-75s TV licences, which had previously been free.
This was part of the charter agreement hammered out with the Government in 2015, but has since said it cannot afford to continue the universal benefit.
Labour’s Gerald Jones (pictured), the MP for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, called for greater support for pensioners
The corporation was set to introduce means-testing at the start of last month but the move was delayed until August because of Covid-19.
During digital, culture, media and sport questions, Labour’s Gerald Jones, the MP for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, called for greater support for pensioners.
Mr Jones said for older residents losing their free television licence means losing ‘entertainment’ and ‘a source of news’.
He added they would also be ‘losing companionship which is hugely important as we go into winter and many people across the country are facing restrictions on movement’.
He said: ‘So will the minister do the right thing, stop hiding behind the BBC, take another look at this policy and stick to his manifesto commitment and keep free television licences for over 75s until 2022?’
Responding for the Government, culture minister John Whittingdale said that ‘the Conservative manifesto did say it believed that it should be funded by the BBC’.
The BBC agreed to take on responsibility for funding over-75s TV licences, which had previously been free but has since said it cannot afford to continue the universal benefit
He added that ‘those on low incomes and eligible for pension credit will continue to receive a free licence’.
Mr Whittingdale also said he hoped ‘all those who may be eligible make sure that they are receiving pension credit’.
He said that ‘the Government continues to believe that the BBC does need to do more to support older people.’
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