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Charity welcomes TV licence fee delay for over-75s, but says it does not go far enough

16th March 2020

Age Scotland has welcomed the BBC's decision to continue to allow free TV licences for all over-75s, but said eight weeks is not long enough.

The BBC announced today (Monday 16th March) it would delay TV licence fee changes for the over-75s until August 1 in light of the coronavirus situation.

An estimated 328,000 Scottish pensioners were set to have to pay £154.50 a year, or face a £1000 fine, from June 1. Only those receiving Pension Credit would continue to receive a free licence.

Age Scotland has strongly opposed the changes, warning that around 76,000 pensioners aged 75 and over in Scotland do not receive Pension Credit even though they are eligible. Older people who just miss out on the benefit will also struggle to pay the bill, and could be pushed below the poverty line.
Brian Sloan, Chief Executive of Age Scotland, said: "We're glad to see the BBC deciding to continue to allow free TV licences for over-75s during this health emergency. This is a victory for common sense and will be welcomed by tens of thousands of older people in Scotland who are already struggling to get by.

"It's disappointing that the new TV licence scheme has only been delayed by eight weeks, and we question whether this is nearly long enough. There has already been plenty of talk about older people being advised to limit their social contacts for as long as four months, and it is likely coronavirus will continue to be a threat for many months to come.

“Many of our oldest, most vulnerable members of society will be at increased risk of loneliness and isolation during this period. We already know that for half of over-75s, their TV or a pet is their main form of company, and this will be especially so if they have limited opportunities to socialise. Not charging for TV would be a kind gesture during this difficult time and would at least take one worry off people’s minds.

“Unfortunately, many over-75s have already received a letter suggesting they get their Pension Credit letters photocopied at the local library or corner shop in order to apply for a free licence. It’s important people know that there is no need to do this and it could unnecessarily put them at risk of infection."

Any older person concerned about finances, coronavirus, or any other issue can call the Age Scotland Helpline on 0800 12 44 222.

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