MP Stone says Tory plan to scrap free TV licences for over-75s is 'mean spirited'
THE Conservative government at Westminster has been slammed by North MP Jamie Stone over old age pensioners having to pay for TV licences.
Up until now, anybody aged 75 years and over has been able to obtain a TV licence free of charge.
However, it was revealed earlier this week that the BBC will scrap the scheme – meaning that, 12 months from now, pensioners will have to stump up the full fee of £154.50 a year to legally access a television.
Up to three million people across the UK will be affected, including many in Caithness.
The policy of free TV licences for the over-75s was introduced in 1999 by the then Labour government which pledged to meet the cost via a subsidy paid to the BBC
However, in 2015 the Conservative government ordered the scheme be phased out by 2020 with the BBC having to shoulder the cost of free TV licences.
Mr Stone said: "This move by the Conservative government shows a meanness of spirit.
"A decent society should be judged on its generosity to the poor, the vulnerable and the elderly.
"Concessions for the over-75s are a social cost which should be paid for through central government funding.
"If the Conservative government is unwilling to pay for free licences for over-75s then they should be upfront about their policy.
"Passing the buck onto the BBC is underhand and risks the financial viability of the BBC to provide what the licence fee payer expects.
"This is a political decision being forced onto a broadcaster and is a political decision that is completely unacceptable."