Campaigners demand action to stop pensioners going to prison over the TV Licence

Pensioner says she'll 'go to jail' over BBC TV licence fee

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Campaigner and Silver Voices director Dennis Reed has asked the minister for an urgent meeting over the long-running free TV licence dispute in a bid to prevent people in their 80s and 90s from going to prison.

Pensioners have been asked to fork out the £159 licence fee since August 2020 in a controversial move that has angered, not just pensioners, but people fighting on their behalf because in the past it has always been free.

Now however, the only individuals who will be able to get a TV licence without any cost at all are those who are over the age of 75 who also receive Pension Credit.

The changes affect an estimated 3.9 million people.

Dennis Reed is campaigning on behalf of pensioners’ rights and told the press this week that he has requested a meeting with the minister to “discuss ways of settling this dispute before things get out of hand”.

He warned that “fining and potentially imprisoning people in their 80s and 90s for protesting against the loss of this welfare benefit will occur on her watch if she fails to act”.

Millions of over-75s were told they were going to be worse off last year, although the free licence was supposed to be in place until 2022.

Mr Reed added: “The Tories promised to keep the free licence until 2022, they must take this last opportunity to respect that pledge.”

The main problem seems to be that neither the BBC or the Government are willing to take responsibility.

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A Culture Department spokeswoman said: “We know how important free TV licences are to those over-75, and we are deeply disappointed with the BBC’s decision to restrict the concession to only those in receipt of Pension Credit.

“The BBC must ensure that it supports those affected and do so with the utmost sensitivity.”

The BBC on the other hand is placing the blame at the Government’s door, which doesn’t help the pensioners’ plight.

And some pensioners are so passionate about their right to a free TV licence that they have vowed to go to prison, rather than pay it.

Just this week Katie from Blackpool told TalkRADIO she is willing to go to jail rather than pay the fee.

She told host Kevin O’Sullivan that she was being harassed for not paying.

The debate has angered lots of people who have criticised it for “criminalising the elderly”.

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Meanwhile, licence holders could get a refund on their TV licence fee if they are left without access to Freeview for a certain period of time.

This comes after viewers in the North East of England were left without a Freeview signal following a fire at a transmitter in Yorkshire.

The incident impacted TV and radio services for thousands of viewers in the area who might now be able to get a refund on their TV licence.

Anyone who has been unable to receive Freeview TV coverage for more than a month can claim a partial refund.

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