BBC TV licence shame: Pay hike is ‘insult to ALL over-75s’ – Campaigners’ fury at 20% rise

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BBC

The BBC can afford to give its staff a payrise but not help OAPs (Image: Getty)

A further 256 received more than 20 percent. The average rise was £6,980 in inflation-busting pay packages that cost licence fee payers £7.9million. That amount could maintain free TV licences for 51,000 over-75s who from next year will be forced to pay for the first time in twenty years. Jan Shortt, the general secretary of the National Pensioners Convention, said: “It’s an insult to every person over 75. This kind of treatment towards the older generation is despicable, it’s like grabbing money from the least able to pay. I understand the world of work but most people would be lucky to get a pay rise of 2 percent. I fail to understand how it has come to this.” 

The pay rises come as the BBC said that it could not afford to underwrite the cost of continuing to fund free TV licences for OAPs. 

From June 1 the concession will be means tested with only the most impoverished pensioners in receipt of Pension Credit continuing to receive the perk. 

The rest – an estimated 3.75 million over-75s – will be forced to cough up £154.40 a year or face prosecution and the risk of a £1,000 fine or imprisonment. 

The BBC and the Government blame each other for the scandal. 

BBC

The BBC splurged millions on its Salford headquarters (Image: Getty)

Free licences for over-75s were introduced in 2000. 

In 2015 then Conservative chancellor George Osborne struck a deal with the BBC in which they picked up the bill from 2020-2021 as part of its charter renewal. 

But the 2017 Conservative manifesto contained a pledge to continue the benefit. 

Tory MP David Davies said: “If the BBC can afford 20 percent pay rises for its staff they can afford to support pensioners and pay for their TV licences.” 

The BBC said continuing to fund free TV licences would cost it “£745m a year and rising” which it could not afford if it wanted to continue to make popular programmes like Line of Duty, Bodyguard and Strictly Come Dancing. 

But its claim to be strapped for cash comes after its most recent accounts showed £159 million was blown on presenter pay last year – up almost £11 million in 12-months – with Match of the Day host Gary Lineker, below, leading the way on a salary of £1.75m. 

Four-fifths of people polled by Age UK – equal to more than 42 million people – think the Conservative Party should keep its manifesto pledge to fund free TV licences. 

Gary Lineker

The BBC pays Gary Lineker £1.75m to present a programme about football (Image: BBC)

TV is the main form of company for two in every five people aged 75 and over with nine in 10 watching it every day. 

It is particularly important for the two million over-75s who live alone – many of whom will struggle to bear the additional cost of a licence on a single income – and the 1.5million over-75s who say they are sometimes or often lonely. 

Caroline Abrahams, the Charity Director of Age UK, said: “Some older people will be wondering how come there’s money for these salary hikes but not, it seems, for over-75s’ free TV licences. However, the truth is the cost to the BBC of these pay rises is tiny compared to that of sustaining free TV licences for our over-75s, which comes in at a cool £750 million a year. 

“A bill of this size is a drop in the ocean for ministers but a great deal for anyone else, even the BBC. That’s why Boris Johnson’s new Government should keep its manifesto promise to our older population and stump up the money that’s required. That way TV licences can continue to be free for everyone aged 75 and above, as has been the case for a generation.” 

The BBC's top paid stars

The BBC’s top paid stars (Image: Daily Express)

Shadow Communities Minister Stephen Morgan said: “While I understand frustration about costs of pay rises at the BBC it is not the Department for Work and Pensions. 

“This conversation ultimately distracts from the real issue which is Mr Johnson’s government failing to honour its commitment to restore the TV licence for everyone over the age of 75. Until the Conservative government steps up and delivers on this promise, we will continue to see vulnerable people suffering from the stress brought on by this misguided social policy decision. It’s time the Prime Minister finally acts.” 

Harry Fone, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Millions of pensioners – who’ve now been dragged into paying the dreaded TV tax – could only dream of ten or twenty percent rises in their pensions payments. These rises are well beyond what’s on offer to most taxpayers in the private sector, who are forced to fund the Beeb. 

“Fat cat BBC bosses need to get the hint and be cutting back on these bumper wage bills. Licence fee payers are sick of being treated as the Corporation’s cash cows.” 

Dame Helen Mirren

Dame Helen Mirren has written to the BBC to plead for the OAPs (Image: Getty)

Oscar-winning actress Dame Helen Mirren, 73, has led calls to keep free TV licences. 

In an open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson Dame Helen said: “I would urge all those involved, including the Government, to do the right thing and to carry on funding free licences for all over-75s – the cost of which is surely a small price to pay for keeping so many vulnerable older people connected.” 

Last month the Office for Budget Responsibility warned the BBC’s means testing could cost the Treasury £850million a year because more over-75s would apply for Pension Credit to secure a free licence. 

BBC

How they rake it in (Image: Daily Express)

About 40 percent of those who are eligible for the benefit do not claim, missing out on an average of £65 a week. 

The BBC said: “While there are strict rules around any pay increases it’s only right that when people are promoted or take on extra responsibilities it’s reflected in their salary. Just as at any organisation, there will be a number of cases where people are promoted to a significantly more senior or prominent role or take on a wide range of extra responsibilities.” 

A Government spokesman said: “We are very disappointed with the BBC’s decision. We expected them to continue free TV licences for the over-75s. 

“Taxpayers want to see the BBC using its substantial licence fee income in an appropriate way to make sure it delivers for UK audiences, which includes showing restraint on salaries.” 

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