A broken Conservative Party promise from the 2017 election will mean two thirds of Wolverhampton’s over 75s are set to lose out, after the BBC announced changes to eligibility for free TV licences.

From June 2020 only households with a pensioner in receipt of Pension Credit will be eligible for a free TV licence. This follows a government move for the BBC to take on responsibility for funding the £745m cost of the scheme.

In Wolverhampton, 11,360 pensioners across the city’s three constituencies – two thirds of all households currently eligible for a free TV licence – will no-longer be eligible.

Wolverhampton North East MP Emma Reynolds previously met pensioners who would be affected by changes to the scheme, and joined the other city MPs – Eleanor Smith and Pat McFadden – in signing a letter to Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright against any change.

On the announced changes, Emma said:

“At the last election the Conservative Party stood on a platform to keep free TV licences for the over 75s. Now, 11,000 Wolverhampton pensioners have been betrayed by a government which promised to keep them.

“Two thirds of Wolverhampton’s pensioners are to lose their free TV licence as a direct result of the government forcing the BBC to take on the cost. The £745m cost of the universal scheme is around a fifth of the BBC’s entire budget, and the government were warned the BBC could not take on this cost and keep the scheme in full. When Labour brought in free TV licences, it was government policy so the government rightly covered the cost.

“It is plain wrong that Boris Johnson is championing big tax cuts for the wealthy, while all but the poorest of pensioners now face having to pay for their TV licence. According to Age UK, 400,000 over 75s neither meet nor speak to family and friends every week. When I met with local pensioners, they told me how essential a TV is. A TV is often their only form of companionship, and the only way of knowing what is happening outside their home.”