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‘Vital lifeline’

Pensioners in UK-wide protests over loss of free TV licence for over 75s
Shaun Noble, Monday, September 30th, 2019

Pensioners across the UK will be protesting tomorrow (October 1) over the decision that the over 75s will lose their right to a free TV licence next June, unless they claim pension credit.


Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, has organised 12 demonstrations as part of its campaign to get the UK government to step in and give all over 75s a free TV licence – the protests coincide with the UN International Day for Older Persons tomorrow.


Unite said that if the government does not back down the best way for the over 75s to obtain a free licence is to claim pension credit. Details to do this can be found here.


Unite said that the over 75s – some of the most vulnerable people in society – were caught in ‘an unseemly tug of war’ between the BBC and Tory ministers as to how the corporation is funded.


Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner 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.  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.”


The 12 demonstrations are at:


London: College Green, opposite Parliament, Westminster at 13.00


Manchester: – outside Tory party conference –Location: Designated protest area by Manchester library and opposite Midland Hotel where Tory conference is being held. Time: 12.00


Cardiff: Cardiff Central train station next to BBC headquarters – 07:30-09.00 and at 16.30-18.00 (with banners) – plus Cardiff  photo opportunity – 12.20 –  Unite Cardiff regional office, 1 Cathedral Road CF11 9SD


Belfast – protest outside the BBC in Ormeau Avenue, Belfast at 11.00.


Bristol: BBC Bristol, Broadcasting House, Whiteladies Road, Bristol at 12.00


Leeds: Briggate, 11.00- 14.00


Newcastle: to be confirmed


Worthing:  outside Lloyd’s Bank, South Street, Worthing, BN11 3AU at 12.00-13.00.


Sittingbourne: Sittingbourne Library, ME10 4AH at 11.00


Southampton: outside West Quay shopping centre, Above Bar Street, Southampton, SO14 7DS at 11.00


South Elmsall (West Yorkshire): Market Place, Barnsley Road, South Elmsall, WF9 2SE at 10.30-11.30, with Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett


York: Samson Square, YO1 8RN at 10.30


The day of action is being organised by the Unite Retired Members committee and Unite Community to pressurise ministers to bring back free TV licences for the over 75s.


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