Pensioners to rally in Leeds and York over scrapping of TV licence for over-75s

Joe Giddens/PA Wire.
Joe Giddens/PA Wire.

Pensioners across the UK will be protesting in Yorkshire today over the decision that the over-75s will lose their right to a free TV licence next June.

The Unite union has organised 12 demonstrations across the UK as part of its campaign to get the government to step in and give all people aged 75 and over a free TV licence as those who do not claim claim pension credit are set to lose out.

-> Do all over-75s need a free TV licence? - Yorkshire Post letters

A rally is due to take place at Samson Square, York, from 10.30am and on Briggate, Leeds, between 11am and 2pm.

The protests coincide with the UN International Day for Older Persons.

Unite said that affected pensioners were caught in "an unseemly tug of war" between the BBC and Tory ministers as to how the corporation is funded.

The union's assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “It is disgraceful that the over 75s, some of the most vulnerable people in society, are soon to lose the right to a free TV licence."

He added: “In June 2020, pensioners over the age of 75 will lose their right to a free TV licence, unless they claim pension credit. Unite is demanding that the UK government steps in and gives all over 75s a free TV licence.

“The right to a TV licence should not be means tested. Many elderly people rely on their TV for company and entertainment, especially those who are housebound or live alone – it is a vital lifeline that enhances their quality of life.”

It comes after the Age UK charity warned that more pensioners are at risk from a "bonanza" of fraud following the decision to scrap the licence as they are potentially targeted by criminals posing as licensing authorities.

A Government spokesman has previously said it was "disappointed with the BBC's decision - we were clear we expected it to continue this concession.

"Taxpayers want to see the BBC using its substantial licence fee income in an appropriate way to ensure it delivers for UK audiences, which includes showing restraint on salaries for senior staff."