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Protest in Whitehall on 7 March 2019 to save the free TV licence for the over 75ís

CSPA members in the London area will be joining a protest in Whitehall today (Thursday 7th March) to save the free TV licence for the over-75`s, and demand that the Government take back responsibility for funding this concession.

The protest, organised by the National Pensioners` Convention (NPC), will take place outside the offices of the Department for Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS), 100 Parliament Street, SW1, at 12 Noon, followed by a meeting in the House of Commons at 1pm. Speakers at the meeting include Sharon Hodgson MP; Paul Routledge (former Political Editor of the Daily Mirror); Caroline Abrahams (Age UK); and Jan Shortt (NPC General Secretary).

The government transferred responsibility for funding the free TV licence concession to the BBC from June 2020 as part of a funding deal in 2015, leaving unelected BBC Governors to decide whether to scrap or modify the concession. It is estimated that there are 1.9 million pensioner living below the poverty line, many of whom would struggle to find the £155 annual licence-fee. Television is the only companion for many older people and withdrawing or diluting the concession will add to the growing problem of loneliness in old age.

Whilst the Government has said that the free tv licence for over-75`s concession should continue, the BBC has argued that to retain the concession would cost it £745M a year, representing 18% of its budget, equivalent to the total annual budget for its radio output.

This vital welfare benefit for older pensioners should remain with the Government, a view shared by over 75% of retired members who responded to the recent survey run in conjunction with our partners in Later Life Ambitions (LLA). but that option was not included in the BBC`s consultation exercise which closed on 12th February,

CSPA with our LLA partners has written to the Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt MP; the BBC Director-General; and the Shadow Secretary of State, Tom Watson MP, arguing that responsibility for the tv licence concession must remain with the government.