Warning over loss of free TV licences for over-75s
As many as 50,000 UK pensioners could be pushed below the poverty line if the free TV licence was to be scrapped for over-75s, Age UK has claimed.
The charity said yesterday it wants the Government to take back responsibility for funding free TV licences.
The BBC has previously launched a consultation period to decide how licence fees for over-75s should be paid for, with various potential options suggested.
Currently, households with people over 75 are entitled to a free TV licence. However, this scheme - which is expected to cost £745m by 2021-22 - comes to an end in June 2020.
Age UK said it estimates that around 50,000 UK pensioners could be pushed below the poverty line if the free licence fee was to be scrapped.
The charity said the cost of the additional bill, currently £150.50, would "undoubtedly cause great worry and distress... to vulnerable pensioners".
It has subsequently launched a petition on the issue and so far it has received more than 30,000 signatures from across the UK.
In response, a BBC spokesman said: "We're conscious that pensioner poverty is still an issue for some older people.
"We have set out a range of options in our consultation - each has merits and consequences, with implications for the future of the BBC and for everyone, including older people."
Urging licence fee payers to participate in the consultation, they added: "We need to hear everyone's views to help make the best and fairest decision."