UK Ministers have been urged to ‘see sense’ and reverse their decision to strip over-75s of their free TV licences.
The call came as MPs questioned the UK Government on the policy, which will see nearly 7,500 households across Renfrewshire lose their entitlement to free TV licences, costing pensioners in the area over £1 million a year.
Changes come into effect later this year after a review by the BBC, which has had to fund the scheme following pressure from the Chancellor. Over-75s who want to continue to receive the benefit will need to be eligible for Pension Credit and have a valid claim, ruling out anyone who doesn’t quality for the means tested benefit.
Pension Credit has one of the lowest take-up rates of any benefit in the UK, meaning pensioners will be disproportionately affected by the withdrawal of the scheme.
The SNP’s Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, slammed the UK Government for its action. He said: “The Tory TV grab will impact those who tend to rely on television the most, a vital lifeline for many and at a time when life-saving information about the pandemic is being broadcast,
“They promised in their election manifesto that they’d maintain free TV licences for older people – yet here we are just months from a change that will cost pensioners dearly.
“Over 4,000 households in my constituency and 260,000 across Scotland face losing out on what is a vital lifeline for many. It is utterly wrong that some will have to choose between heating and their TV this winter.
“It shouldn’t be up to the BBC to pay for government policies – this is a social benefit which should be paid for by the UK Government, who have taken the decision to abandon their responsibilities and leave the over-75s in the dark.”