Tory MPs ‘reaction when they warn the government of their constituents’ ‘tangible’ anger over the BBC’s decision to scrap free TV licenses for over-75s – as figures show more than 90 percent will benefit take away
- The BBC says it has been forced to limit free licenses to people with retirement benefits
- It said it could no longer afford to forgo the £ 157.50 annual fee for all over 75s
- In 110 Tory seats, at least 85 percent of people over 75 pay the fee
Tory MPs have warned the government of voters’ ‘tangible’ anger over the BBC’s decision to scrap free TV licenses for most of the over-75s – after figures showed that in some of their seats more than nine of the ten voters currently getting the benefit will let it be taken away.
The company says it was forced to limit free licensing to people with retirement credit as of August 1, as it could no longer afford to forgo the £ 157.50 annual fee for all over-75s without serious cuts in programs and channels.
Downing Street has described it as ‘the wrong decision’ – only for the BBC to retaliate by pointing out that it was the government that decided to stop funding the perk.
Out of a total of 110 Tory seats, at least 85 percent of households over 75 will have to pay the fee (stock image)
Now figures obtained by The Mail on Sunday show the full impact of the cut on Tory’s core countries: at Dame Cheryl Gillan’s Chesham and Amersham headquarters, a total of 91 percent of households currently receiving the benefits will lose these, while in five other constituencies, including Sir John Redwood’s Wokingham, it is 90 percent.
Out of a total of 110 Tory seats, at least 85 percent of people over 75 will have to pay the fee.
It comes as outgoing BBC Director General Tony Hall could be revealed to have had ‘peace talks’ with Boris Johnson before stepping down at the end of the month.
Lord Hall is alleged to have argued that No. 10 should take a less aggressive stance towards his successor, Tim Davie, on issues such as the government’s plans to decriminalize non-payment of the license fee.
The Prime Minister is said to have taken a ‘softening’ tone by saying he wanted to use the BBC’s global reputation to project British ‘soft power’ around the world, but stressed the need for ‘efficiency savings’.
The pandemic has so far cost the BBC more than £ 125 million: funding free TV licenses for all over-75s would have cost a total of £ 745 million by 2022.
The BBC says it was forced to limit free licensing to people with retirement credit as of August 1, as it could no longer afford to forgo the £ 157.50 annual fee for all over-75s.
The BBC’s chairman, Sir David Clementi, is also stepping down early next year – and is expected to be succeeded by a candidate more in line with the government’s agenda, such as former Tory Culture Minister Nicky Morgan.
The company originally had plans to test the free license for over-75s starting in June, saving an estimated £ 35 million a month, but it was delayed due to the coronavirus crisis.
The BBC says about 1.5 million households could still get licenses for free, of which 450,000 have already applied – and has said emphatically that the government ‘determines and controls’ who receives pension credit.
Julian Knight, in the photo, the Tory culture committee chair, said the numbers showing the number of voters losing the benefit would “ collectively cause grinding teeth in our backseats. ”
Last night, Julian Knight, the Tory chairman of the culture committee, said the numbers showing the percentage of voters losing benefits would “ collectively cause grinding teeth in our backseats. ”
Mr Knight, the Member of Parliament for Solihull – where 84 percent of households who receive the benefit will lose it – said: ‘It shows the extent of the damage the BBC decision has done to our constituents.
‘I can imagine that the anger will be felt among our people in the coming months. The question is: will the government be blamed or the BBC? ‘
The BBC said of the discussions between Lord Hall and Mr Johnson, “We will not comment on this.” Downing Street also declined to comment.