Free TV Licences

Stephen Hepburn MP for the Jarrow Constituency has raised in Parliament his concerns that thousands of pensioners in the area could lose their free TV licence. 

According to figures from the House of Commons Library, almost 6,000 older households in the Jarrow Constituency are at risk of losing their free TV licences in 2020 despite the Conservatives promising in their 2017 general election manifesto to protect free TV licences until 2022.


As part of the last BBC charter the Government devolved responsibility for the free TV licence policy, and the cost, to the BBC. The BBC can decide what to do with the benefit from 2020 and they have consulted on a number of options including scrapping the free TV licence concession altogether, raising the eligible age to 80 and means testing it.  A decision is expected this summer. 


During Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Questions, Stephen Hepburn MP said:


“It was a Labour Government who introduced free TV licences for pensioners, in the vital battle against isolation, loneliness and severe mobility problems. Next year, up to 6,000 pensioners could lose their licence in Jarrow. Half of them class the TV as their main source of company. What is the Minister going to do about that?”


Jeremy Wright MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, replied:


“The hon. Gentleman is right that television is important for many older and more isolated people, but the key word in his question was “could”. We do not yet know what decision the BBC will make, and it is sensible to wait until we have the proposal before commenting upon it.”

Stephen Hepburn MP said:


“The Tories knew what they were doing when they farmed out the cost of paying for free licences for over 75s out to the BBC.


It will be a terrible blow to older people who already struggle to make ends meet and particularly to those who are housebound or isolated and rely on their television for company.


“Labour completely opposes this and we are still firmly of the belief that the Government was totally wrong to outsource a social policy in this way.” 

Meet your MP


Stephen Hepburn has served the Jarrow Constituency as MP since 1997.

He was last elected to serve in June 2017 and won the seat with a conclusive 17,263 majority.

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