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Poorest 40,000 over-75s will lose out under TV licence means-testing, according to BBC report

Published on 13 June 2019 04:00 PM

Age Scotland calls on the UK Government to step in to prevent further hardship among those least able to pay

Only 11 per cent of the poorest pensioners receiving a free TV licence will get to keep it, according to the consultancy employed by the BBC to look into the future of the entitlement.

The Frontier Economics report states that the means test will lead to an average loss of 2.1 per cent of income among the poorest ten per cent of over-75s.

Age Scotland is calling on the UK Government to restore the entitlement for all older recipients, saying it will cause hardship for thousands of pensioners who are already struggling financially. More than 420,000 people across the country have already signed a petition organised by its sister charity, Age UK.

On Monday 10th June the BBC announced that from June 2020, the free TV licence would only be available to older people aged 75+ if they were in receipt of Pension Credit, a means-tested benefit designed to help older people on very low incomes.

However the report confirmed that take-up of Pension Credit remains low, with four in ten Scottish pensioners who are entitled to it not receiving it. Those over 75 are less likely to claim the benefit than younger pensioners, despite having lower average incomes.

Brian Sloan, Chief Executive of Age Scotland, said: “The BBC’s own report confirms that tens of thousands of Scotland’s poorest and most vulnerable older people will lose out under the new means test. This plan is deeply unfair and all the evidence shows that it fails to protect those who can least afford to pay.

“Older people in their 80s and 90s, who rely on their television for companionship, will now face horrible choices such as cutting back on essentials to pay their bill or risking breaking the law by not paying the licence fee.

“Our helpline has been taking calls from worried older people who are already struggling to get by on fixed incomes. Many don’t receive Pension Credit because they are confused by the process, too proud to claim it, or just miss out on the benefit.

“We are calling on the next Prime Minister to do the right thing and restore this entitlement for everyone aged over 75.”

The Frontier Economics report told the BBC that: “A means test implemented today with the current age threshold would lead to average losses of 2.1% of income among the poorest decile (ten per cent) of over-75s (measured by income).
 
“A body of evidence shows that increasing take up of Pension Credit is extremely challenging and is little affected by a range of different incentives.

“Another  consistent  finding  is  that  older  households  appear  less  likely  to  claim (Pension Credit) than younger pensioner households. This appears  to  hold  even  controlling  for  the  fact  that  older  pensioners  also  tend  to have lower incomes.”

Any older person who is worried about money and/or think they may be entitled to claim Pension Credit should contact the Age Scotland's free and confidential helpline on 0800 12 44 222.

END

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Contact the Age Scotland Media team

Telephone: 07801 500 663 / communications@agescotland.org.uk

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