Over 75 TV licence means-test “deeply unfair”

Friday 14th June 2019

40,000 of the poorest Scottish pensioners could lose out on their TV licences under proposals to means-test the free entitlement for over-75s, according to a BBC report.

Age Scotland is calling on the next Prime Minister to “step in to prevent further hardship among those least able to pay.”

A petition launched by sister charity Age UK calling for the changes to be cancelled has been signed by more than 420,000 people

Research commissioned by the BBC in 2018 found plans to replace universal free TV licences for all those older than 75 by linking the entitlement to pension credit would see just 11% of the poorest older people keep it.

Pension credit is a benefit designed to help the older people on the very low income.

But awareness is low and four in ten Scottish pensioners who are entitled to it do not claim it, the report states.  

Those over 75 are less likely to claim the benefit than younger pensioners, despite having lower average incomes.

The research also states making pensioners pay to watch TV will lead to an average loss of 2.1% of income among the poorest ten per cent of over-75s.

Brian Sloan, Age Scotland chief executive, said: “The BBC’s own report confirms that tens of thousands of Scotland’s poorest and most vulnerable older people will lose out under the new means test. This plan is deeply unfair and all the evidence shows that it fails to protect those who can least afford to pay.

“Older people in their 80s and 90s, who rely on their television for companionship, will now face horrible choices such as cutting back on essentials to pay their bill or risking breaking the law by not paying the licence fee.

“Our helpline has been taking calls from worried older people who are already struggling to get by on fixed incomes. Many don’t receive Pension Credit because they are confused by the process, too proud to claim it, or just miss out on the benefit.

“We are calling on the next Prime Minister to do the right thing and restore this entitlement for everyone aged over 75.”