With confirmation that free TV licenses for the over-75s will end in August, local Labour figures have condemned the move and pledged to fight for their reinstatement.
Labour brought a motion to council last year to highlight the impact such a move would have on vulnerable and isolated residents – see https://www.sthelenslabour.org/latest-news/2019/09/13/labour-call-for-over-75s-free-tv-licenses-to-remain/ – and given the current circumstances this is even more of a threat to older people’s wellbeing.
Conor McGinn, Labour MP for St Helens North, says: “I am disappointed but not surprised that the Tory Government has broken promise by refusing to fund the extension of free TV licences for over-75s, with the scheme due to end in August.
For many of the four million over-75s affected, including thousands in St Helens North, the television isn’t simply the ‘box in the corner’, it is central to their lives, as both a constant companion and a window to the world – made clearer than ever by lockdown and shielding.
After years of cuts, it’s disingenuous of the Conservatives to blame the BBC. This will no doubt affect many older people’s well-being and household finances. Instead of passing the buck, we must see a better solution.”
Council Leader David Baines says: “This would be the wrong thing to do at any time, but it’s especially cruel in the middle of a pandemic when many older people will still be feeling vulnerable and self-isolating. Labour introduced the free TV licenses and Labour will campaign to bring them back.”