Cumbernauld and Kilsyth’s parliamentarians are calling upon the UK Government to reinstate funding that has been cut from the BBC’s budget in order to prevent the planned scrapping of free TV licences for most over 75s.
Jamie Hepburn MSP and Stuart McDonald MP have expressed their frustration that the budget cut will see more than 70 per cent of local households who currently qualify for a free license lose that entitlement when the new scheme comes into place in June of next year.
Others will miss out if they do not take up the means-tested “Pensions Credit” benefit.
Across the Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East constituency 4890 households currently qualify for a free TV license – but that will fall to 1472, meaning at least 3420 people losing out.
Mr Hepburn said: “The recent news that over 75s will no longer be provided a free TV licence fee concession is deeply troubling.
“The Tory government is hoping that the BBC will take the criticism for this – but it is their cuts that have forced this to happen, and it is their responsibility to fix it”.
Mr McDonald added: “Access to television and media services is what enables many over 75s, who are amongst the most isolated in society, to remain connected to their communities and the wider world.
“It is therefore a huge blow to learn that this change will result in over 3400 households in Cumbernauld, Kilsyth & Kirkintilloch East having to pay an extra £154.50 per year in order to remain up to date on the news, access information such as public awareness campaigns and to be entertained.”
Two petitions demanding over 75s keep free TV licences have passed a combined 700,000 signatures.
A petition on the Parliament’s website has been signed by over 170,000 people meaning MPs will have to debate the issue, while an Age UK petitions stands at over 530,000 signatures.
Caroline Abrahams, a director at Age UK, said: “We’ve been inundated with phone calls, emails and petition sign-ups — to the extent that our IT has sometimes struggled to cope.
“It demonstrates the strength of feeling.”