New figures revealed by the Labour Party suggest that nearly 60,000 over 75s living with dementia in the North West could lose their free TV licence next year.
Maintaining free TV licences for over 75s was a 2017 Conservative Party Manifesto Commitment, yet universal free TV licences for over 75s are being scrapped from next year.
As part of the BBC charter renewal process the Conservatives forced the BBC to take on the cost of free TV licences and therefore as of next year, only those in receipt of Pension Credit will receive a free TV licence, meaning that 3.7 million older people will lose out across the country.
Just 19% of over 75s are currently in receipt of pension credit, meaning 81% of all over 75s are likely to lose their TV licence.
Free TV licences are an important benefit for older people who suffer disproportionately from loneliness and social isolation. Four in ten older people say the television is their main source of company.
Those no longer eligible for free TV licences will need to apply and pay for a TV licence, and could be criminalised for failing to do so.
Applying for a TV licence could be a challenge for many older people, particularly for those living with dementia.
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper said:
“The Tories should be hanging their head in shame at the way they are planning to strip older people of their free TV licences.
“For West Lancashire alone an estimated 5,600 over 75s with dementia face losing their free TV licence.
“Older people with dementia often struggle with daily tasks and their television is a comfort. It would be a terrible cruelty to take their TV licence away and force them to reapply and pay for it. The government should halt this callous policy immediately and save TV licences.”
Estimates provided by the House of Commons Library are below:
According to the House of Commons Library 19% of people aged 75 or over in Great Britain are on Pension Credit (1,046,833 claimants or partners of claimants, out of a total population aged 75 and over of 5,379,054 in 2018).
From this Labour has made the estimates included in the below table of how many over 75s living with dementia in each region will lose their free TV licence.