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Portsmouth MP urges Minister to be bold and stand up for pensioners when it comes to free TV licences

During a Westminster Hall Debate relating to free TV licences for over-75s, Stephen Morgan MP spoke forcibly in favour of maintaining the benefit for pensioners.

The debate follows a Government led decision to revoke the universally free TV licence for over-75s and instead only allow those with Pension Credit the benefit.

The Portsmouth South MP said:

“This was an opportunity to voice the concerns of my constituents. Following my letter out to 10,000 people likely to be affected, I have had a steady stream of correspondence – including heart wrenching accounts of the loneliness and isolation that will ensue after the free licence has been removed.

I owe it to my constituents to make sure that the Minister responsible for these unjust changes is aware of the damage his Government is doing to Portsmouth pensioners.”

Mr Morgan’s speech forced the Government Minister to justify the policy change, particularly the notion of attaching the benefit to Pension Credit, which has been widely criticised by experts and MPs alike.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“We know that around 1.3 million over-75s are eligible for Pension Credit but do not or cannot claim for the benefit. This means at least 650,000 of our poorest pensioners facing an ominous new annual bill they simply can’t afford.

The Government has not taken this into account and now those with the least are set to lose the most. I have urged the Minister today to be bold and stand up for hardworking-pensioners by halting the implementation of this regressive policy change.”

Another key message conveyed by the local born MP was the statistical data for how pensioners in his city will be affected. Mr Morgan has conducted his own research through listening to constituents who responded to his letter. He used the Westminster hall debate today to inform the Minister on how his city felt about these changes.

“We know that in Portsmouth South, from respondents of over 300, nearly 90% supported the continuation of the free TV licence.

Nearly 70% sighted loneliness as their main concern if the licence were to be revoked and over 30% considered themselves to have a mobility issue or disability that made getting out difficult.

What this suggests is that Portsmouth people, especially those facing mobility issues and loneliness, are very concerned.

The Government has made a serious misjudgement.”

This is not the first time that the Portsmouth MP has tried to put pressure on the Government to maintain the free TV licence for over-75s.

To date, he has written to the PM, asked the Minister responsible, met with Age UK and Portsmouth Pensioners Association, submitted a string of written questions and sent out 10,000 letters to residents.

On whether he will continue to campaign, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The battle against loneliness and isolation will go on. I will continue to raise this matter both in Parliament and in the constituency to ensure that those who are affected by these cruel, callous changes have a voice.

The Government has the power to make these changes, we have responsibility to show them the pain they are causing.”