Received from: NUJ
Merged into composite 16
Congress notes the BBC’s plans to make most over-75s pay the TV licence fee from June 2020, only offering free licences to pensioners who provide evidence that they claim the means-tested pension credit.
According to research from the House of Commons Library, around three million households will lose their free TV licence as a result. Up to 1.3 million families entitled to pension credits do not claim the benefit, heightening concerns that the change will increase hardship amongst pensioners already living in poverty.
Congress condemns the decision of the government to transfer the cost and policy responsibilities to the BBC, which has forced the corporation into this decision or face having to close channels and axe programming. It believes our public service broadcaster should not be responsible for public policy decisions on a welfare benefit. It further believes that such a step will have grave implications for the relationship that the public has with the BBC, at a time when it is under increasing pressure.
Congress calls on the General Council to support calls for a reversal of this
wrong-headed and unfair decision by the government, and to campaign for the government to continue to pay the cost of free licences for all over-75s. It further calls for the TUC to campaign for the creation of a sustainable funding model for the BBC in future licence fee settlements, one which protects public service broadcasting, is free from political interference and shielded from the whims of the government of the day.
National Union of Journalists