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Free TV licences: Age Cymru writes to Conservative politicians ahead of leadership hustings in Cardiff

Published on 08 July 2019 01:46 PM

Age Cymru has written to each Conservative AM and MP in Wales, ahead of the leadership hustings in Cardiff tomorrow (Saturday 6 July), urging them to call on the two candidates to pledge to continue funding free TV licences for the over 75s, should they become Prime Minister.

The BBC announced on 10 June that, from June 2020, only households with someone aged over 75 who receives pension credit, will be eligible for a free TV licence.

Victoria Lloyd, Age Cymru Chief Executive, has written to the representatives pointing out that the Government should not have transferred responsibility for free TV licences to the BBC without a public consultation and without the funding to sustain it, and stating Age Cymru's firm view that the Government should take back responsibility for funding free TV licences from the BBC.

New research for the charities Age Cymru and Age UK shows that this view is widely shared amongst the public in Wales, with three quarters of those polled saying the Government should fund the licence fee for the over 75s. The poll also shows that 81% believe the Conservative Party should keep its manifesto promise to fund free TV licences until 2022.

The letter also highlights that restricting a free TV licence to just those claiming pension credit will still leave thousands of older people in Wales either without a TV or significant extra expense. The charity estimates that 32,500 older people in Wales who are eligible for pension credit do not claim it.

Age Cymru reminds Welsh Conservatives that BBC Wales is the main or only source of news about Welsh politics and public services within Wales. It will be difficult or impossible for older people who cannot afford a TV licence to inform themselves about major public issues in Wales which impact on their daily lives, and to engage in democratic process and debate.

BBC Wales is also by far the biggest provider of news, current affairs, sport and drama in Welsh. Many older people, particularly those living with dementia, revert to their mother tongue as they grow older. If Welsh-speaking older people in Wales can't afford a TV licence, they could become cut off from most of their opportunities to be informed and engaged in their native language.

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