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Portsmouth MP urges government to fix ‘broken’ pension credit scheme for over-75s TV licences

Stephen Morgan MP has outlined fresh concerns over the 3.7 million pensioners that are now required to start paying for TV licences, after the government’s delay to removing the concession for all over-75s expired on 1st August 2020.

In 2019 it was announced the universal free TV licence would be scrapped, except for over-75’s in receipt of Pension Credit from 1st June 2020.

This comes as many pensioners are reportedly either unaware or unable to access their pension credit, or fall just outside the requirements to qualify for the scheme, but are by no means living comfortably.

According to national charity Turn2us, an estimated 1,716 pensioners in the city of Portsmouth are not claiming their pension credit – which entitles them to a free TV licence.

Stephen Morgan MP commented,

“The government’s decision to force a political decision upon a BBC that is already receiving serious cuts to funding is completely unacceptable.

“But to then set up a pension credit scheme that is bureaucratic, ill-communicated and that still leaves many pensioners exempt from the scheme that are nowhere near living comfortably is just incredibly poor governance and lacking in vision.”

In addition, during lockdown and beyond, the importance of access to amenities for pensioners has been underscored.

According to Age UK, over 950,000 people aged 70+ in England (12% or one in eight) were shielding from the virus. Meanwhile, 38% of over-75s (2.1 million people) agreed that television was their main form of company, and 40% of over-75s (2.2 million people) live alone.

Mr Morgan added,

“During lockdown, now and in the months to come, TV will be incredibly important to help reduce loneliness for pensioners and to also ensure they remain updated on latest developments – particularly on Covid-19.

“The government needs to revisit this scheme urgently as weenter the winter period and I will be taking further action in Parliament to challenge them on this important issue.”

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South is set to table a range of parliamentary questions and look to arrange a cross-party Westminster Hall debate to challenge on the government’s TV licence policy, on behalf of pensioners in Portsmouth.

Mr Morgan has previously written to two Culture Secretaries lobbying for government on this issue, spoken out in favour of keeping the benefit during parliamentary debates; grilled Ministers in the House of Commons during relevant questions; submitted a string of targeted written questions to the department responsible; and written a joint letter with the Portsmouth Pensioners Association to the Prime Minister.

The government’s pension credit team can be reached on 0800 99 1234.