AM opposes decision to axe free TV licences for millions of pensioners

Wrexham’s Assembly Member has strongly criticised the decision to scrap free TV licences for the over-75s.

Earlier this week the BBC confirmed that millions of pensioners will start paying their licence fee in full from 2020.  Under the new regulations, only low-income households where one person receives pension credit benefit will still be eligible for a free licence.

According to the latest figures, almost 160,000 households in Wales will be negatively affected, including 3,390 in the Wrexham constituency.  The total annual cost across all households affected in Wrexham is over £510,000.

Offering free licences to the over-75s was introduced in 1999 as part of a Labour Government programme to reduce pensioner poverty.  However, in 2015 the Conservative Government decided the subsidy would be phased out, meaning the responsibility would fall upon the broadcaster.

Lesley Griffiths AM will express her constituents’ grievances at a BBC Wales event at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay next week.

She said: “I completely oppose the decision to scrap free TV licences for the over 75s.  Make no mistake, the Tory UK Government must bear the responsibility as it was their proposal to cut funding in 2015, breaking their manifesto pledge, that forced the BBC to shoulder the cost.”

“The decision is unjustified as many poor households will be hit hard by the change, resulting in thousands of vulnerable Wrexham pensioners feeling increasingly lonely and isolated.”

“I am pleased the Labour Party has vowed to fight the decision.  Distressed constituents have contacted me about the changes and I will raise their concerns at the BBC Wales event being held at the Senedd next week.”