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Welsh Public tells government to keep its manifesto promise and continue to fund free TV licences for Welsh pensioners

Published on 08 July 2019 01:36 PM

  • Four in five (81 per cent) of all ages surveyed in Wales say the Conservative party should keep its manifesto promise to fund free licences until 2022
  • Three in four (72 per cent) of all ages surveyed in Wales agree the Government should continue to pay for all over-75s to have a free licence. 

New research for the charities Age Cymru and Age UK [i] shows that there is a big groundswell of public support in Wales for the continuation of free TV licences for the over-75s, with three-quarters of all those polled believing that the Government should continue to pay for them – equivalent to an estimated 1.9 million adults of all ages across Wales.[ii]

Four in five (81 per cent) of all ages surveyed in Wales say the Conservative party should keep its manifesto promise to fund free licences until 2022, while three in four (72 per cent) of all ages surveyed in Wales agree the Government should continue to pay for all over-75s to have a free licence.

Across Britain, the strength of feeling was strikingly consistent across the age spectrum, with seven in every 10 of those aged between 18–64 years agreeing that the funding responsibility should sit with the Government – rising to four in 5 (82 per cent) among over-65s and nine in 10 (92 per cent) among those immediately affected, the over-75s.[iii]

The figures across Britain were similar to those here in Wales with more than four-fifths of the public – equivalent to more than 42 million people[iv] – thinking the Conservative Party should keep its manifesto pledge to fund free TV licences until 2022; this despite the Government handing over responsibility to the BBC without the money to fund it, or indeed any public consultation.

Again the majority of every age group in Britain polled was in agreement, with seven in 10 (71 per cent) of the youngest age group (18-24 years) saying the manifesto promise should be honoured, rising steadily through the age bands and becoming near universal (98 per cent) among the over-75s.[v]

Age Cymru and Age UK have been inundated with support for their Switched Off campaign since the BBC made its announcement to means-test TV licences for the over-75s a few weeks ago. The online petition has now topped the 600,000 mark and both charities have been flooded with calls and emails from people across the country who are worried about losing their free TV licence, or concerned for others who may be affected.

(Note to editor: see attached picture from Age Cymru’s shop in Pontypridd).

Age Cymru’s Advice Service has even had to reassure callers that the free TV licence will still apply to Pension Credit claimants who receive either Guaranteed Credit or Savings Credit.

Age Cymru’s Head of Policy and Campaigns Dr Valerie Billingham warns: “If these changes are implemented next June, people in their eighties and nineties, many of them sick and disabled and completely dependent on their TV for companionship and news, may have to give it up.   A colour TV licence costs £154.50; another financial burden to add to the rising costs of fuel, transport and food, and the higher costs associated with illness and disability – and around half of people aged over 75 in Wales are living with a disability. 

“The BBC’s own analysis shows that on average the poorest tenth of over 75s would lose 2.1% of their income as a result of their decision, and just 11% of the poorest tenth of households containing someone aged 75+ would retain their free TV licence.

“Linking the free licence to Pension Credit will exclude those with the very lowest incomes –people entitled to Pension Credit who do not claim it. Age Cymru estimates that two fifths of people who are entitled to Pension Credit, around 32,500 of Wales’ poorest pensioners, are not receiving it.”

Ends.

The reasearch was conducted in Great Britain via an internet omnibus survey by Kantar for Age UK. A sample of 1559 GB adults aged 18+ were interviewed between 25th – 27th June 2019.

[ii]  Ibid

[iii] Ibid

[iv] These estimates are based the new polling figures, as above, scaled up to the Great Britain population aged 18+ using the ONS mid-year population estimates for 2018, released 26th June 2019.

[v] The research was conducted in Great Britain via an internet omnibus survey by Kantar for Age UK. A sample of 1559 GB adults aged 18+ were interviewed between 25th – 27th June 2019.

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