Leadership hopefuls condemn BBC for TV licence decision

Millions of pensioners will lose their free TV licences from June next year

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Conservative leadership contenders Andrea Leadsom, Esther McVey and Matt Hancock have criticised the BBC’s decision not to continue with free TV licences for all over-75s.

Ms Leadsom said the decision was “unacceptable”.

“It's a commitment in the Conservatives' manifesto and we need to find a way to reverse that,” she said.

On Twitter Ms McVey wrote she was “ashamed” of the BBC.

“As someone who used to work for the BBC I am ashamed of them for this decision. Our “public service broadcaster” who has forgotten the public they are supposed to serve,” she wrote.

Mr Hancock told Sky News the decision was a "mistake".

Under the BBC’s new scheme the free licences will only be available to those receiving Pension Credit.

Around 1.5 million households will be eligible when the changes come into effect in June next year.

It is thought around 3.7 million pensioners will lose out.

The government has faced criticism for passing on the financial burden of providing free TV licences for over 75s to the BBC from 2020.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has urged those angry at the move to sign a petition calling to restore free TV licences for over-75s.

He wrote on Twitter: “Pensioners have spent their lives contributing to our society. Providing over-75s with free TV licences is not too much to ask.”

BBC director-general Tony Hall said the move was “not an easy decision”.

“I believe we have reached the fairest judgement after weighing up all the different arguments,” he said.

The new scheme will cost the BBC around £250 million by 2021/22.

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