Keir Starmer has blasted Boris Johnson for pulling the plug on free TV licences for over 75s.
The Labour leader attacked the Prime Minister of savagely admonishing pensioners who may have to choose between paying their TV licence and heating their homes.
The assault came as Boris Johnson dug his heels in, and said the BBC remained responsible for the perk, in spite of their Tory manifesto promise in 2017 to preserve it until at least 2022.
The BBC said up to 3.7 million homes will have to start paying the £157.50 annual payment, besides those getting Pension Credit.
The move reflects a deal imposed on the BBC by the Government in 2015.
Free licences for all over 75s would cost £745 million a year, as the Chancellor Rishi Sunak put aside £500 million for his meal deal discount for restaurant diners, and Sir Keir Starmer stated that it just wasn’t good enough for the Prime Minister to pass the buck and indict the BBC.
The Prime Minister is turning his back on hundreds of thousands who will struggle to pay this and could be forced to choose between paying their TV licence or their heating this winter.
TV has been crucial to numerous pensioners during coronavirus, and the idea that Boris Johnson can take away so many people’s connection to the outside world is brutal.
And in a statement from No 10, Boris Johnson stated that they were bitterly disappointed by the BBC’s decision not to prolong the concession past August but that the BBC continues to be responsible for the concession and for setting out what those affected will now need to do.
And he said the financially struggling corporation should now look urgently at how it can use its abundant licence fee revenue, and agitated OAPs organised by the Silver Voices campaign group are threatening to gum up the works of the licencing scheme.
It’s considering creative but legitimate ways to complicate payments and increase the cost of collection by stopping direct debits and standing orders in favour of cheques and cash, and a small number of over 75s have said they may intentionally break the law as a matter of principle, to express their disgust at the plan.
And it’s definitely not worth the money they’re asking – make it more affordable and people might not mind so much, but £157.50 they can bite me, and all pensioners should get their pitchforks out and make a stand by refusing to pay it.