STATEMENT from SCOTTISH OLDER PEOPLE'S ASSEMBLY (SOPA)
The news that the BBC is going forward with its plans to cancel free TV licences to those who are over 75 is a great disappointment to SOPA and our Members.
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a public service to the nation and it lacks sensitivity and is poor public relations to take this step at a time when so many Older People are obliged to stay at home because of the COVID pandemic.
Many Older People - particularly those who live alone, who have no computer or smart phone - rely heavily on their television for information, entertainment and it may be their only companion.
Loneliness and isolation, particularly during the pandemic, have a very detrimental effect on those most vulnerable and this will surely add to the problem, which Social Services and the NHS will have to shoulder.
We acknowledge that the BBC continues to offer free licences to those who receive Pension Credit, and that many Older People are comfortable financially and therefore quite happy and able to pay the full price for their licence.
We are aware that there are Older People who could apply for this benefit but, either through lack of knowledge or perhaps because they are too proud, have failed to apply. We, along with partner agencies working with and for Older People encourage those people to apply for the benefit, to which they are entitled.
We are also conscious however that there are many not eligible for Pension Credit who nonetheless will struggle to pay the licence fee and may have to make a choice between paying the licence fee and other daily necessities.
Surely it is not beyond the ability of Government and BBC to overrule this decision which will affect so very many of our Older People so badly?
SOPA supports the campaigns of Age Scotland, Unite, Scottish Pensioners' Forum and many others small and large groups representing Older People to ensure free licences for the over 75s.
Diana Findlay, Chair of Trustees, July 2020
Age UK Switched Off: Save free TV for older people https://www.ageuk.org.uk/our-impact/campaigning/save-free-tv-for-older-people/#
Unite: Reinstate free TV licences for over 75s (film clip) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKqLjreaFdI