Stop the licence snatchers
60+ council members Mary Brodbin & Alan Gibson - © nuj
Pensioners' groups outside the DCMS - © nuj
7 March 2019
The NUJ’s 60+council joined pensioners’ groups and trade unionists outside the offices of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) in London to protest against the threat of the over-75s losing their free TV licences.
The Daily Mirror’s Paul Routledge said Margret Thatcher had been the milk snatcher and now her heirs are the licence snatchers. “For one in four pensioners the TV is their main form of companionship; their friend in the corner of the living room,” he said. The Mirror is running a campaign to maintain free pensioner licences.
In a secret deal with the BBC, the government offloaded the responsibility of paying the welfare benefit on to the corporation. The BBC now says the cost of taking on the fees will be more than1 billion by the end of the next decade.
The demo was organised by the National Pensioners Conventio, which signed a letter with the NUJ and Age UK telling the BBC board to ditch the deal. It said scrapping the free TV licence for over-75s could push 50,000 older people into relative poverty and severely compromise the quality of the BBC’s output.
Speaking outside the DCMS, 60+council member Mary Brodbin said: “Last year the BBC made £40m cuts in news and it has to make another £40m this year. It cannot pay for the free licences. It’s not the BBC’s function to decide whether one pensioner deserves a free licence and another not. The BBC’s leadership should be brave and tell the government that it must take responsibility for this benefit.”