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Outrage as BBC scraps universal free TV licence for pensioners

The BBC faced backlash today after confirming they will be scrapping universal free TV licences those over the age of 75.

Eighty-five percent of people who voted in a Good Morning Britain Twitter poll have said over 75-year-olds should still get a free TV licence.

The online poll, which attracted over 26,000 votes at the time of writing, has received over two thousand comments from users, plenty of whom were outraged by the BBC's decision.

One user wrote: "For a lot of elderly people, the TV is their only contact with the outside world. Why disadvantage people who have paid into the system all their lives?"

Another added: "Absolutely disgusting of the bbc to put added pressure on a generation who have given so much already. A few well placed pay cuts is all that's needed but no they would rather take from those who already have so little!"

The poll comes as BBC confirmed free TV licence fees for over-75s are to be means tested.

This means households without someone who receives Pension Credit from June 2020 will now have to pay the full licence fee which is currently £154.50.

It's believed the new fee changes will affect around 3.7 million households which previously received a free licence.

BBC director-general Tony Hall said the move was “not an easy decision”.

He said: “Whilst we know that pensioner incomes have improved since 2000, we also know that for some the TV licence is a lot of money.

"I believe we have reached the fairest judgment after weighing up all the different arguments.

"It would not be right simply to abolish all free licences.

"Equally, it would not be right to maintain it in perpetuity given the very profound impact that would have on many BBC services.

"This decision is fairest for the poorest pensioners. Around 1.5 million households could get free TV licences if someone is over 75 and receives Pension Credit. It protects those most in need.

"And importantly, it is not the BBC making that judgment about poverty; it is the Government who sets and controls that measure.

"It is fairest for all audiences - of all generations, old and young - who we know value the BBC and the programmes and services we provide. It means these services can continue."

Downing Street later issued a statement revealing Prime Minister Theresa May is "very disappointed" with the decision not to continue with free TV licences for the over-75s and urged the BBC to look again.

Elsewhere, Scottish Conservative MP Ruth Davidson said she would be the first to back a campaign by Good Morning Britain to force a BBC U-turn on the new licence fees.

She told Piers and Susanna: "If GMB are going to make a campaign on this then sign me up as the first person to back it, because television is a window to the world for people who can't go there themselves, including people who are elderly.

Ruth added: "It's not just a friend when you're lonely, it's not just intellectual stimulation, it's also a way to reach out and see things, and like Susanna, if I was asked to pay a few pounds more to help ensure that free TV licences are maintained for people over the age of 75, I'd willingly pay it."

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