Ben Fogle donates Animal Park salary towards over-75 TV licences

North Antrim MP Ian Paisley

North Antrim MP Ian Paisley

TV star Christopher Biggins said it was "wrong" to means-test older people.

He continued: "You have to realise the sheer democratic weight of the elderly, I'm well over 75, I'm part of a hugely expanding demographic and you can't actually afford to give everybody free things, whether it's winter fuel allowance, BBC licence fees, bus passes, because you can't afford it".

United Kingdom pubcaster the BBC is to stop providing free TV licences to those aged over 75, saving it around £500m (US$650m) and avoiding the possibility of "unprecedented closures" of its TV and radio services.

Instead, following a consultation process with nearly 200,000 people, the scheme will now be means tested.

"Many older people in Nottingham North will be left feeling isolated and alone".

"Maybe the Government and the BBC should go 50/50 and pay half each".

Gillian Thompson, manager of Anna House Day Centre, said numerous older people who use the facility have real concerns about the TV licence fee changes. I really am disgusted, the fact that many of our older people are struggling to make ends meet and provide for themselves, it's awful.

Mr Fogle said he was "disappointed" in the decision, arguing: "Let's not penalise those who most value the BBC".

Former pensions minister and Tory peer Ros Altmann said the BBC should not have to "carry the can" for the £745 million cost of the licences.

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Conservative Party leadership hopefuls Andrea Leadsom and Esther McVey opposed the move, with the latter saying she felt "ashamed" of the BBC.

"TV brings great comfort to millions of older people who live alone and those who are housebound - no doubt helping them to keep informed, entertained and connected to the outside world".

"I know that some of my constituents will be concerned about how they will be able to afford their TV licence going forward".

He added: "Why has the Government passed on what is essentially a welfare benefit to a media broadcaster?"

The BBC has announced it will scrap automatically free TV Licences for over-75s from next year.

Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted that pensioners had spent their lives contributing to society, so providing over-75s with free TV licences "is not too much to ask".

According to BBC Chairman Sir David Clementi, while many viewers voiced support for the Government's concession, there was also strong support for reform and least support for abolishing the concession entirely.

The BBC has said that restricting free licences to only over-75s on Pension Credit is the fairest option. It is estimated that 1.3 million over-75s are eligible for Pension Credit but do not claim the benefit.

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