Pensioners to rally through Leeds today demanding free TV licenses

Pensioners will take to the streets of Leeds today to protest the decision to scrap free TV licenses for over 75s.

Tuesday, 1st October 2019, 9:13 am
Updated Tuesday, 1st October 2019, 1:58 pm

The protest, organised by trade union Unite, will be held on Briggate from 11am to 2pm.

It forms part of 12 demonstrations across the country that coincide with UN International Day for Older Persons.

From next summer only those over 75 years old who get pension credit will be given a free TV licence.

Pensioners rallying outside the BBC Leeds offices in September

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-> 'You become prisoners inside four walls': Leeds pensioners demand their free TV licencesEveryone else will have to pay the full cost, currently over £154 a year, and the campaigners will demand that the BBC reverses its decision.

Unite said that over 75s are caught in a 'tug of war' between the BBC and Tory ministers as to how the corporation is funded.

Steve Turner, Unite assistant general secretary, said: "It is disgraceful that the over 75s, some of the most vulnerable people in society, are soon to lose the right to a free TV licence.

“They are victims of a cynical move by the then Tory chancellor, George Osborne, to push the cost of provision onto the BBC.

Pensioners will protest today against the decision to scrap free TV licences for all over 75s

"This was unfair and unacceptable as it is the role of UK government, not the BBC, to support pensioners.

“In June 2020, pensioners over the age of 75 will lose their right to a free TV licence, unless they claim pension credit.

"Unite is demanding that the UK government steps in and gives all over 75s a free TV licence.

“The right to a TV licence should not be means tested. Many elderly people rely on their TV for company and entertainment, especially those who are housebound or live alone – it is a vital lifeline that enhances their quality of life.”

A group of pensioners, organised by the Yorkshire and the Humber Pensioners Convention, rallied outside the BBC Leeds offices in September.Protester Roy Rix, a 79-year-old retired roadsweeper, said he would refuse to pay the TV licence if the plans went ahead.

He said: "They want to make me pay £154 a year, when I don't have an income that allows me to pay that.

"It means a lot to pensioners - it's often the only contact we have with anything.

"You become prisoners inside four walls and that TV is one of the main outlets for contact.

"If you take that away then basically you just fade away."