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Hundreds of thousands condemn decision to axe free TV licences for over-75s

HUNDREDS of thousands of people have condemned a government-instigated decision by the BBC to axe free TV licences for the over-75s by signing petitions calling for the concession to be maintained.

More than 230,000 people have signed a petition launched by pensioners’ charity Age UK calling for free television for the elderly to be protected.

And tens of thousands more have added their names to petitions on the Labour and Parliament websites.

Tory leadership candidates are attempting to shed responsibility for the government’s action by blaming the BBC – even though it was the government’s withdrawal of funding for the concession which caused the broadcaster to axe it.

Free TV licences for people aged 75 and over costs the BBC £745 million a year.

The BBC says the concession will now be means-tested, meaning only the poorest pensioners will be entitled to it.

Jan Shortt, general secretary of the National Pensioners’ Convention, Britain’s biggest pensioners’ campaign group, said: “One in four over-75s say the TV is their main form of companionship, and the scale of loneliness among older people is growing.

“Pensioner poverty is also on the rise for the first time in a number of years, and scrapping the concession will only make that worse.

“It’s been said that at least 50,000 more pensioners will fall into hardship if they end up having to pay for their TV licence.

“We know that one of the main reasons the concession was introduced in the first place was because the UK’s state pension was so low – and sadly that’s still the case.”

Age UK called on the government to continue funding the concession.

“We believe this change will harm millions of older people who rely on their TV,” the charity’s petition states.

“Together, we must demand the government takes back responsibility for funding free TV licences.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that pensioners spent their lives contributing to society, so providing over-75s with free TV licences “is not too much to ask.”

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