‘We back BBC’s decision to abolish free TV licences for over-75s’

Giving free TV licences to pensioners is unfair and the BBC is right to remove them from over-75 year-olds.

That is the view of some young people, interviewed by IKB Insider, who believe this week’s backlash against the corporation’s controversial decision is unwarranted.

The BBC’s decision on Tuesday was met by a huge backlash and an Age UK petition calling for a reversal of the decision has received over 400,000 signatures.

But many young people disagree, arguing that it’s not just the elderly who merit the concession.

The £150 fee will now only be scrapped for those receiving pension credit, a means-tested benefit for those at State Pension age.

“Why should students pay for TV licenses when wealthy pensioners don’t?” says Montel Powell, 22, a sociology and media student at Brunel University. “Surely young people are some of the poorest in society, especially regarding housing?”

Students living in halls or shared houses do not have access to a shared licence and must pay the fee, per room, if they want to access TV channels. Students are sent multiple letters threatening to send enforcement officers and fine them a maximum of £1000.

A report, published today by The House of Lords Committee on Intergenerational Fairness and Provision, has called for age-based benefits like free TV licences and bus passes to be scrapped in relation to the increased wealth of pensioners since these benefits were enacted.

Research conducted by global property advisor Savills in 2018 found that homeowners over 50 hold 75% of Britain’s housing wealth while under 35s account for just 4%.

However, Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, says that “Young people may well need more help but we disagree that this should be at the expense of the older generation.”

David, a housebound 84-year-old, told Age UK that TV is a ‘vital lifeline’ for him and that without TV many old people would ‘vegetate’. Age UK agrees that ‘TV is their [oldest citizen’s] constant companion and window on the world.’

But some young people are baffled by the uproar. “They clearly don’t understand what’s actually changing,” says Alice McCleary, 19, an electronic and computer engineering student. “Older people won’t be getting their TVs ripped from their walls, it’s just those who can afford to pay the fee will still have to pay it.”

It’s not just students who disagree with pensioners’ free TV licences. Comedian Mark Grimshaw has tweeted regarding the intergenerational unfairness of the media:

“Whenever Millennials complain that we'll never be able to afford houses, the media just prints "buy less meal deals & avocados" opinion pieces. I'm noticing a lack of articles titled "You Could Afford a TV License if You Stopped Buying Werthers Originals and M&S Cardigans" now.”

While Age UK has demanded the BBC change their decision, money-saving expert Martin Lewis has remarked on the lack of eligible pensioners claiming pension credit, which would allow them to keep receiving the free TV licence.

"Pension Credit is one of the worse-claimed benefits,” he told Good Morning Britain today. “I hope the BBC will launch a campaign to push the take-up of the benefit.”

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