IBT members understand the very difficult position that the BBC’s board sought to navigate in deciding on the future of the age-related television licence-fee concession for over-75s. We welcome the fact that pensioners in receipt of the Pension Credit will be eligible to apply for a free television licence. There are important limitations inherent in any means-testing system, and this should be monitored closely as there is a real risk that vulnerable people may miss out on the vital companionship and the window television offers into the wider world because they cannot afford to pay for a television licence, or they struggle with the process of applying for Pension Credit.
IBT members have always maintained that decisions about welfare spending should be for government and we believe it is not too late for the UK Government to step in and finance the full cost of the television licence fee concession for over-75s.
This decision will also have serious implications for the BBC’s budget, estimated at up to £250m by 2021/22 at a time when the BBC faces intense global competition from other providers and should be investing in, rather than cutting services.
We urge the BBC and the UK Government to learn important lessons from this process including the need to ensure that the next BBC licence fee settlement is conducted in a spirit of openness and transparency. The public should have a voice in these important decisions that affect so many of our lives.
For more information, please contact Lorriann Robinson: firstname.lastname@example.org