Pensioners announce nationwide protest against BBC licence fee
Pensioners are to march on local BBC offices to protest against the corporation’s plans to axe free TV licences for over-75s.
The nationwide demonstration, organised by the National Pensioners Convention (NPC), is thought to be one of the biggest protests against the move so far.
It will take place at midday on Friday June 21 at a number of sites across the country and follows a protest at the corporation’s Media City offices at Salford Quays on Thursday.
The BBC has said free licences will be means-tested under a new scheme which aims to protect programming while dealing with the extra funding burden.
Free licences will be restricted to over-75s who claim Pension Credit from June 1 2020.
But NPC general secretary Jan Shortt described the move as “callous and cruel”.
She said: “The amount of anger we are seeing at the BBC’s decision, not just from pensioners but younger people as well, is absolutely amazing.
“This really is uniting the generations, because we all know that if the Government and the BBC collude to take the free TV licence away from today’s older people, it won’t be there for the pensioners of tomorrow.
“We have growing rates of poverty and loneliness among our older generation – and this decision is callous and cruel.
“What’s clear is that the BBC knew that if they means-tested the TV licence, only 11% of the poorest 10th of households currently receiving it would actually get to keep it.
“The truth is, it shouldn’t be the job of the broadcaster to administer or fund part of our wider welfare policy and the Government must take back responsibility for it.”
Strictly Come Dancing’s former head judge Len Goodman and Ben Fogle yesterday became the latest figures to criticise the move.
Goodman branded the decision “rotten”, saying it will “impact on the most vulnerable”.
Fogle said the Government should be held accountable for its “poor decision” and made to reverse it.
In a joint statement released on Monday, the BBC’s chairman, Sir David Clementi, and director-general Tony Hall said continuing the Government’s scheme would have had a “severe impact” on services and that the new model “represents the fairest possible outcome”.
Only around 1.5 million households will be eligible for a free TV licence under the new scheme.
It is thought that around 3.7 million pensioners will lose out.