MP calls for TV licence fee u-turn for lone over-75s

A south west MP has called on BBC chiefs to exempt all over-75 people living alone from losing their free TV licence.

Alister Jack, MP for Dumfries and Galloway, also asks that the broadcaster phases in the changes over a much longer period.

He has written to Lord Hall, Director General of the BBC, seeking an urgent review of the controversial plan, which he says is extremely unpopular with many of his constituents, some in isolated rural areas.

Mr Jack asked that all existing over-75s be able to retain the fee exemption going forward.

He stated that while he understood those in receipt of pensioner credit would continue to receive the benefit there were many others, facing a struggle to pay, who lived alone and relied on TV to help combat loneliness.

Mr Jack asks Lord Hall: "Has any consideration been given to those older people who are socially isolated and rely on their television for companionship"?

He suggested there should be an assessment system for over-75s living alone, not currently in receipt of pensioner credit, to allow them to apply for an exemption.

"Loneliness has a negative impact on health and well-being, including amongst older people. A free-to-use TV service can contribute in helping mitigate against that risk," commented Mr Jack this week.