Hundreds of Pensioners gathered outside Parliament in protest at plans to remove free TV licenses for over 75s. The lively crowd was addressed by speakers from the National Pensioners Convention, NUJ, BECTU, GMB and other groups. They called on the Government to take back responsibly for funding the benefit for the elderly.
One in four over 75s, many of whom are disabled and isolated, say that the TV is their main form of companionship.
Tony Lennon from BECTU, the trade union representing people who work in TV and the media said: “Pensioners are struggling as much as they ever have done with austerity....We are 100% with you." He stated that if the BBC is made to pick up the bill for the over 75s it will result in thousands of job losses and reduced services.
Many protestors believe the free TV licence was first introduced by Gordon Brown to avoid increasing the state pension - now the lowest out of 36 Countries that form the Organisation for economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Speaking to the rally Mary Brodwin from the National Union of journalists said:
“Theresa May said 3 months ago that austerity is over and “good times are
ahead”. Well OK, if she wants to put her money where her mouth is let’s start with this one.”
“We have the worst pensions and winter deaths last year were up to the highest rate since the 1970s. Pensioners are cold and 2 million now have to choose between eating or heating. Are we now going to add to that the choice of having no TV? The is absolutely outrageous.”
Television provides a lifeline for older people who depend on it for contact with the outside world. Under Government plans the BBC now has the choice between redundancies and protecting pensioners.