express– The Government has said it will cover the £159 cost for over 75’s who aren’t on income support for another year in a move that is thought will help thousands of older people pay their bills. However, it could anger pensioners in the UK who only get a free TV licence if they are over 75 and receiving Pension Credit.
Up until August 2020, more than four million over 75s were entitled to watch TV for free.
That was until the BBC announced it would stop funding the licences of older people unless they qualified for benefits like Pension Credit.
That move meant that millions of over 75s in the UK were left footing the bill and many had to choose between food and paying the bills.
It also affected around 5,000 households in the Isle of Man until the Government announced it would cover the cost so that its older generation could still watch for free.
Now it has announced that it will cover the costs for 2022 while it looks into who should pay the £159 fee.
According to Manx Radio, the Treasury is writing to those approaching their 75th birthday, inviting them to get their free TV licence.
Treasury Minister David Ashford MHK said: “It is important we make this commitment, allay any anxiety and be clear that provision will remain in place for a further 12 months.
“Consideration will now be given to how provision may look in the future and an update will be made in due course around any conditions which may be established.”
Nearly a fifth (18 percent) of older people are struggling to make ends meet.
Taking away privileges like the free TV licence and bus pass is only making matters worse.
One pensioner told Age UK that a TV Licence is now considered a luxury, although it used to be free to all over 75s no matter what their income.
He said he is now forced to choose between eating and staying warm for some hours of the day and that his social life is a thing of the past.
Some pensioners are so angry about the changes to the law that they are refusing to pay.
And they have the support of high profile campaigners like TalkRADIO host Ian Collins who has shamed the BBC on air for cracking down on the over-75s, who are no longer eligible for a free TV licence.
Another supporter John O’Connell, of pressure group TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “People are being chased for an ever-more expensive TV tax when hard-up households are struggling to make ends meet.
“Heavy-handed enforcement like this shows why the licence fee has to go.”
It is a legal requirement to have a TV licence to watch and stream all live broadcast programming in the UK.
Meanwhile, Jan Shortt, general secretary of campaign group National Pensioners Convention, has warned that thousands of pensioners have not paid the fee because they don’t have the funds.
Ms Shortt said: “Many people have a hard decision to make this year – whether they turn on their heating or pay for a TV licence.
“For many vulnerable people, the television provides comfort and company.
“We estimate at least 60,000 are surviving on perhaps £180 a week or less and are just above the threshold that would allow them to claim Pension Credit – and be eligible for a free TV licence.”