MORE than 400,000 angry Brits have signed petitions to save free TV licences for those above the age of 75.
Two days ago, the BBC said the 3.7million pensioners who previously received a free licence will have to pay for it from June next year, with charities fearing it will push the poorest into poverty.
7 The cost of a TV licence for a colour-TV is currently £154.50 per yearCredit: Alamy
From next summer, only households where at least one person receives pension credit – around 900,000 currently – will not have to pay.
But two fifths of people who are entitled to this benefit aren’t getting it, according to charity Age UK.
Some don’t know they can claim, many struggle to apply and even more feel embarrassed about needing help, it added.
Following the announcement, Prime Minister Theresa May said she was “very disappointed” with the decision to scrap the free licenses and demanded the BBC to rethink the call.
She’s not alone in her opinions, as petitions on the matter have been given a boost in signatures in the last couple of days.
One petition by Age UK has racked up 331,146 signatures at the time of writing.
The charity said: “For over a million of the oldest people in our country, television is their main form of company. Right now, that’s under threat.”
While one campaign on Parliament’s petition website has increased by more than 80,000 signatures in the last couple of days and is currently sitting at 88,600.
The petition says: “Continue to fund free TV licences for the over 75 in the future.
“Removing them will only penalise the poorest old age pensioners, many who rely on their television for company and their main source of entertainment.”
In total, that’s more than 400,000 people who have signed the combined petitions.
A separate petition calling for the TV licence fee to be scrapped altogether is also gaining traction, and at the time of writing it has 154,019 signatures but it’s rising steadily. 7 77
Viewers have also vented on Twitter after Monday’s move, with some are concerned it will isolate elderly people who can’t afford to pay the fee.
Others have cancelled their licence completely in protest.
One user said: “The BBC has made me incredibly sad and angry that our older generation are having their entertainment taken away. They have paid the TV licence for years.
“My mother-in-law has alzheimer’s and it’s her company when we aren’t there.”
While another added: “This morning my father-in-law is in tears because he says he now cannot afford his TV licence.
“He’s 86 and only leaves the house to go to the hospital.”
Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s charity director, told The Sun: “We’ve had a phenomenal response to our petition since the BBC’s announcement on Monday – over 170,000 more people have added their names bringing the total up to well over 300,000 and counting.
“Without doubt this shows a huge groundswell of support for the continuation of the free TV licence for over-75s.
“The Government cannot bury its head in the sand any longer – it should never have passed this benefit to the BBC and has a responsibility to continue to fund it.
“That’s why we are calling on every candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party to commit to intervening to save the free TV licence, if they become Prime Minister – it would mean so much to millions of older people.”
BBC chairman David Clementi said on Monday that the move had been a “very difficult decision”.
How to watch TV legally without paying for a licenceIN the UK, any household watching or recording live television must hold a TV licence.In recent years, this has been extended to include BBC programmes on iPlayer, whether they are live, catch up or on demand. But does everyone really need a licence? Here’s the lowdown on how to avoid paying – legally.
On demand TV – like catch-up TV and on demand previews – which are available through services like ITV Player , All4 , My5 , BT Vision/BT TV , Virgin Media , Sky Go , Now TV, Apple TV, Chromecast , Roku and Amazon Fire TV
On demand movies – from services like Sky, Virgin Media, BT Vision, Netflix and Amazon Instant Video
Recorded films and programmes – either via DVD or Blu-ray, or downloaded from the internet
YouTube – On demand video clips through services like YouTube
A TV licence currently costs £154.50 for a colour TV and £52 for a black and white one, although those who are blind or severely sight-impaired are eligible to a 50 per cent discount.
But there are also ways to watch TV legally without a license – here we explain how.
The BBC first announced a consultation into ditching the perk back in November 2018.
Age UK has warned that the extra bill could trigger “great worry and distress” to thousands of vulnerable pensioners.
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In April, the Government hiked the cost of a licence by £4 for the third year in a row.
Meanwhile, almost 3.5million Brits cancelled their TV licence fee between 2014 and 2018.
The figures show that many are ditching the BBC in favour of streaming sites such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and NowTV.
Piers Morgan slams BBC for scrapping free TV licences for pensioners saying they should ‘U-turn and cave on this’
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