Over 75s in Scotland face stumping up or switching off their TVs

Tens of thousands of older people in Scotland who are living below or just above the poverty line will struggle to pay for a TV licence, according to Age Scotland.

Saturday, 22nd August 2020, 7:30 am
Difficult decisions...are facing tens of thousands of over 75s who will have to tighten their belts to afford a TV licence. (Pic: Jon Savage)

Older people living on the basic State Pension, who just miss out on additional support, have told the country’s leading charity for older people that they will have to ‘tighten their belts’ in order to afford the new bill which the BBC imposed on over 75s at the beginning of this month.

Callers to the charity’s free helpline said they now face difficult decisions about spending and may be forced to cut back on small treats, such as going out and socialising.

Only those over 75s who receive Pension Credit will continue to get a free TV licence. In Scotland, just 90,000 claim Pension Credit, which tops income up to £173.75 for single people or £265.20 for a couple.

Figures from the UK Government suggests that more than 130,000 over 75s in Scotland (28 per cent) are living in poverty or just above this line.

This leaves tens of thousands of the poorest over 75s with the choice of paying an extra £157.50 a year or giving up their television.

Age Scotland has found that even older people entitled to Pension Credit do not always claim it – almost one in four are missing out because they are unaware of it or find the process too confusing.

Brian Sloan, Age Scotland chief executive, said: “The BBC’s criteria for who to support was flawed.

“Tens of thousands of over 75s who live in poverty or just above this line now have to stump up or be switched off.

“The imposition of this new bill comes at a time when hundreds of thousands have been shielding and are already struggling with isolation and chronic levels of loneliness.

“Their TV has been a source of company and their window on the world.

“The UK government was wrong to pass the buck on this issue but it is not too late for them to sit down with the BBC and come up with a solution.”