By New Worker correspondent
The Gloucestershire, Avon & Somerset Region of the National Pensioners Convention (NPC) held a protest in Bristol last week against the BBC’s plan to scrap the free over-75 TV licence.
The protesters were joined by members of Unite and Bristol trades council outside the BBC offices in Bristol’s Whiteladies Road. On the last protest back in February the BBC called the police in the hope of stopping the demonstration. This time the BBC offered the protestors free tea or coffee.
Back in 2015, the Government passed responsibility for the free TV licence for the over-75s to the BBC and said they would cease to fund it from 2020. The BBC has launched a consultation process, which makes it clear that they do not wish to continue the current arrangement. The consultation ended on 12th February 2019, with the BBC deciding to introduce a means-test whereby those who claim pension credit will be exempt from the TV licence charges – but 3.7 million pensioners will still have to pay the annual licence fee of £154.50 from next year.
The National Pensioners Convention is fighting this proposal to end the current arrangement and are asking for responsibility for this vital welfare benefit for over-75s to be taken back under government control. The National Pensioners Convention is absolutely clear – if we fail to protect this concession, the government will begin looking at the winter fuel allowance and the bus passes.