BBC TV licence ‘outreach’ team plan criticised

Pensioners will struggle with the process of buying a TV licence, a charity has warned, as it criticised the BBC’s plans for home visits.

Friday, 9th August 2019, 10:39 am
Updated Friday, 9th August 2019, 11:39 am
Senior citizens protest outside the BBC studios in London on June 21, 2019 against the end of government funding for free TV licenses for the over 75s. - Funding the free licences is due to be transferred from the Government to the BBC in 2019 as part of an agreement hammered out in 2015. The BBC has said that funding the universal scheme would mean the closure of BBC Two, BBC Four, the BBC News Channel, the BBC Scotland channel, Radio 5 Live, and a number of local radio stations. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

The benefit will be restricted to those on pension credit from June next year, with the BBC saying it cannot afford to take on the financial burden from the Government.

The BBC is set to discontinue the benefit after having its budget cut by the Government by around a fifth.

The broadcaster recently told MPs that over-75s will have home visits from BBC “outreach” teams.

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Pictured Caroline Abrahams of Age UK

Age UK said that many pensioners, including those who find it difficult to dress, bathe and get out of bed, will struggle with the procedure of paying or even confirming that they are entitled to a free TV licence.

Charity director Caroline Abrahams said: “The idea that more than a million over-75s who are coping with serious health and care challenges will be able to comply with a new TV licence process, having never done so before, is cloud cuckoo land. However straightforward the process, it will still defeat many of them, unless they have friends and family who can help, and unfortunately a lot don’t.”

Age UK said that more than a quarter –29 per cent – of over-75s in the UK have difficulty with at least one activity of daily living. The BBC’s director of policy Clare Sumner told a Commons select committee earlier this month that the home visits would be done “as sympathetically as possible”.

Meanwhile, leading celebrities including Dame Helen Mirren, Dame Vera Lynn, Lenny Henry and Ben Fogle have joined forces to help pensioners who stand to lose their free TV licences.

And Age UK started a petition demanding the government reverse its decision.

It has gathered more than 600,000 signatures. The Express and its sister titles are asking the government to take action to solve the problem.