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'Disrespectful' BBC licence fee changes hammered by charity chief

The decision to scrap free TV licences for over-75s has been labelled ‘disrespectful’ by a charity chief executive.

From June 2020, about 3.7million pensioners will have to pay £154.50 per year to watch the terrestrial channels.

Those on pension credits will not have to pay.

Kevin Griffiths, chief executive of Age Concern Slough and Berkshire East called the decision ‘political ping-ponging’.

He said: “A few days ago the Prime Minister stood up in France at the D-Day anniversary and said they were the greatest generation.

“Then less than a week later this happens.

“It’s political ping-ponging. When will politicians stop paying lip service?

“This generation influenced so much of the second part of the 20th century, it’s just disrespectful.”

Mr Griffiths added that Age Concern will be backing a campaign run by Age UK trying to reverse the decision.

In 2015, the government announced the BBC would take over the cost of providing free licences for over-75s by 2020, but this would have cost the BBC £745million, one-fifth of its total budget.

According to the BBC, paying out that amount would have meant ‘profoundly damaging closures’ to many of its services.

BBC director-general Tony Hall said: “This has not been an easy decision. Whilst we know that pensioner incomes have improved since 2000, we also know that for some the TV licence is a lot of money.

“I believe we have reached the fairest judgement after weighing up all the different arguments.”

“It is fairest for all audiences – of all generations, old and young – who we know value the BBC and the programmes and services we provide. It means these services can continue.”

Office for National Statistics data estimates that in 2016 there were 8,824 households in the Royal Borough with at least one resident aged 75 or older.

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