BLAENAU Gwent MP Nick Smith has joined calls for the Government to keep TV licences free for the over-75s.
Research from the Labour Party shows that thousands of pensioners in Blaenau Gwent would lose their free TV licences if Government plans go ahead.
Labour will try and force a vote in Parliament today (Wednesday, May 8) to keep free TV licences for over-75s.
Millions of older people across the country could lose their TV licence in 2020 despite the Conservatives’ 2017 Manifesto promise to protect free TV licences until 2022.
Nick Smith, MP for Blaenau Gwent, has campaigned against removing free TV for the elderly previously, asking why the Government made a promise “it knew it could not keep” in a question to Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Jeremy Wright in Parliament in January.
In Blaenau Gwent, 4,660 older households could face having to pay a licence fee, costing a collective £701,330 annually.
If the concession is means-tested, for example by linking to Pension Credit, 3,080 households will lose this crucial pensioner benefit, costing a collective £463,540 annually.
If the age for the concession is raised to 80 1,980 households will be hit with new expenses, costing a collective £297,990 annually.
As part of the last BBC Charter, the Government devolved responsibility for the free TV licence policy, and the cost, to the BBC.
By outsourcing responsibility for paying for free TV licences, this Government will be saving £745m across the UK in 2021/22. This is in addition to the £220 million the Government will be saving that same year through changes to pension credit. This money, nearly a billion pounds, is coming directly out of the pockets of pensioners.
Nick Smith, MP for Blaenau Gwent said: “This Government broke its promise to keep free TV licences until 2022, and thousands of elderly people in Blaenau Gwent – and millions across the UK – are set to lose out.
“This is another Tory policy that punishes pensioners. This Government would offload almost a billion pounds of costs onto our oldest people in a single year through scrapping free TV licences and changing pension credit.
“Pensioner poverty is on the rise, as is social isolation and loneliness among the elderly. We should not be presenting elderly people with potential money worries or threatening them with losing access to television.
“This Tory Government is picking pensioners’ pockets. The Labour party is today calling on the Government to urgently reconsider and fund free TV licences for over-75s.”