The BBC has been slammed for “doing nothing” to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, as the row over the license fee continues to simmer. Pensioners’ campaign group Silver Voices has hit out at the broadcaster for charging over-75s, saying it should be “doing a lot more” to “help those in genuine need of support”. Silver Voices director Dennis Reed told Express.co.uk that many pensioners “genuinely can’t afford to pay the license fee”.
He asked what the BBC is doing as a “compassionate contribution” to support pensioners in the cost of living crisis, noting that some “broadband providers are providing social tariffs for those in hardship”.
Mr Reed continued: “The BBC is doing nothing, they just charge £159 fee to everyone, no matter what their circumstances are.
“So a millionaire who’d decide they’re not going to pay the fee is prosecuted, but exactly the same threats are levied on poor households who genuinely can’t afford to pay for it.”
He added: “The BBC should be doing a lot more. It should engage with organizations to work out how to help those in genuine need of support.
“They should be far more sympathetic towards people’s circumstances. For example, we think that households with people with dementia in them should be exempt from paying license fee.”
Free license fees for over-75s were scrapped two years ago. Although the BBC has held back from prosecuting over-75 refuseniks, its licensing officials have continued to send “threatening” letters.
And for over 60s, TV Licensing insists it only prosecutes as a “last resort” and it offers other options before taking court action.
Mr Reed said: “Over 75s who have been unable to pay the £159 TV license fee since their free licenses were scrapped two years ago continue to receive threatening letters on a regular basis, stating variously that they are under investigation, or can expect a doorstep visit, or may be subject to a £1,000 fine.
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Options to replace it will include subscription models or linking it to another household bill.
But previous attempts to find a new funding model have failed to get off the ground.
A TV Licensing spokesperson said: “We are doing all we can to help people and offer support.
“We work with groups throughout the UK which assist people who fall into financial difficulty, and we have payment plans available to help spread the cost, including our Simple Payment Plan designed for people who need extra support.
“Prosecution is only ever a last resort and no enforcement or prosecutions against over-75s who previously held a free license have been authorized.”
The BBC has been approached for comment.