FAT-CAT BBC bosses were yesterday accused by Defence Ministers of ignoring the “sacrifices” of Armed Forces veterans by scrapping the free TV licences for the over 75s.
Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt – who hosted Donald Trump for the official D-Day commemorations – demanded Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright take action against the BBC and request they sign the Armed Forces covenant.
She and the Veterans Minister Tobias Ellwood penned a furious letter to their Cabinet colleague with a list of questions to put to the BBC. And they warned that the BBC’s decision to start means-testing for the free TV licence would affect up to 1.1 million veterans.
They demanded to know what assessments had been made by the BBC over the likely impact the move would have on veterans and also suggested the corporation finally signs up to the Armed Forces Covenant – a commitment to protect the Armed Forces community.
The list of demands comes days after the BBC’s highly controversial decision to start means-testing for the free TV licence. Only OAPs aged over-75 who get Pension Credit will escape having to pay the licence fee – meaning 3.7 million will lose the giveaway from June 1 next year.
In the strongly-worded letter to Mr Wright, Ms Mordaunt and Mr Ellwood said: “Should you wish to write to the Director General of the BBC, you may wish to remind him of the sacrifices made by many of our more senior citizens in the defence of this country, and invite his organisation to commit to supporting veterans (and serving personel) through signing the Armed Forces Covenant with focused pledges to show the esteem in which the nation holds them.”
Sign the petition at ageuk.org.uk
We are backing Age UK’s Switched Off campaign to save free TV for older people. The charity is demanding that the Government takes back responsibility for funding free TV licences and has set up a petition on its website. Sign it on their site or on The Sun’s website.
Meanwhile pensioners announced plans to march on local BBC offices to protest against decision to axe free TV licences.
The nationwide demonstration, organised by the National Pensioners Convention (NPC), is thought to be one of the biggest protests against the move so far.
It will take place at midday on Friday June 21 at a number of sites across the country and follows a protest at the corporation’s Media City offices at Salford Quays on Thursday.
The BBC has said free licences will be means-tested under a new scheme which aims to protect programming while dealing with the extra funding burden.
Free licences will be restricted to over-75s who claim Pension Credit from June 1 2020. But NPC general secretary Jan Shortt described the move as “callous and cruel”.
She said: “The amount of anger we are seeing at the BBC’s decision, not just from pensioners but younger people as well, is absolutely amazing.
“This really is uniting the generations, because we all know that if the Government and the BBC collude to take the free TV licence away from today’s older people, it won’t be there for the pensioners of tomorrow.
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“We have growing rates of poverty and loneliness among our older generation – and this decision is callous and cruel.
“What’s clear is that the BBC knew that if they means-tested the TV licence, only 11% of the poorest 10th of households currently receiving it would actually get to keep it.
“The truth is, it shouldn’t be the job of the broadcaster to administer or fund part of our wider welfare policy and the Government must take back responsibility for it.”
How to watch TV legally without paying for a licence
IN the UK, any household watching or recording live television must hold a TV licence.
In recent years, this has been extended to include BBC programmes on iPlayer, whether they are live, catch up or on demand. But does everyone really need a licence? Here’s the lowdown on how to avoid paying – legally.
On demand TV – like catch-up TV and on demand previews – which are available through services like ITV Player , All4 , My5 , BT Vision/BT TV , Virgin Media , Sky Go , Now TV, Apple TV, Chromecast , Roku and Amazon Fire TV
On demand movies – from services like Sky, Virgin Media, BT Vision, Netflix and Amazon Instant Video
Recorded films and programmes – either via DVD or Blu-ray, or downloaded from the internet
YouTube – On demand video clips through services like YouTube
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