'It's a disgrace' - Sunderland communities and MPs have their say on BBC's TV licence changes

Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West.
Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West.

More than 90% of Echo readers have said the TV licence should still be free for all over-75s.

An online poll completed by 1,736 people revealed that 91% of those who took part think this benefit, introduced in 2001 by Labour, should continue. The BBC announced on Monday, June 10 that only over-75s in receipt of Pension Credit will continue to receive the free licence.

This will come into force in June 2020, when the BBC takes on official responsibility for the scheme from the Government.

The Conservative Party’s 2017 general election manifesto pledged to protect pensioner benefits, including the free licence, for the duration of this Parliament, which could technically run until 2022.

Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West said: “These changes mean that approximately 3,150 households in Washington and Sunderland West will now miss out on a free TV licence.

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

“I contributed to the BBC’s consultation and spoke in a recent Parliamentary debate about this to raise the concerns of my constituents and urged the Government to take the responsibility of funding the TV licence for over-75s back from the BBC.”

Grahame Morris, MP for Easington, added: “The Government and the BBC must surely understand the serious impact these changes have had for some elderly people. I believe that the Government should rethink its policy on TV licence provision and reinstate the full free licence for the over-75s.”

Here is what Echo readers had to say on Facebook:

Ian Kirton: “Pensioners have paid enough over the years, give them this one little gift and say thank you.”

Grahame Morris, MP for Easington.

Grahame Morris, MP for Easington.

Norma Rutherford: “Our generation is the only one yet to have paid into the system so we should be allowed a little perk surely.”

Audrey Brand: “Yes it should be free, it’s the only entertainment some pensioners have.”

Pamela Mccabe: “Let them have a little bit of pleasure in their old age.”

Kim Lona Kendall: “It’s a disgrace and they should be ashamed of themselves.”