BBC told to ‘challenge’ Boris Johnson in TV licence row as 1.4m over-75s refuse to pay fee | UK | News (Reports)

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The BBC will be “helped” in their funding negotiations with the Government by “better knowledge” around the fate of pensioners in the UK, the National Pensioners Convention (NPC) has told Express.co.uk. Last month, the Government formally kicked off talks to agree the level of the TV licence fee from 2022. NPC General Secretary Jan Shortt gave insight into meetings that her organisation has been conducting with the national broadcaster on the state pension, universal entitlements, the threshold for pension credit and diversity and inclusion. The campaigner also warned approximately 1.4 million over-75s have not paid their licence fee.

She told Express.co.uk: “So we have got quite a lot going on with the BBC.

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“Hopefully that will help them in the run-up their negotiations with the Government around their funding.

“Also it may help them to challenge the Government with better knowledge around older people and their needs as well as isolation and loneliness.

“Television plays a really big part in older people’s lives, particularly now in the pandemic.”

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Ms Shortt continued: “A lot of our older members won’t actually leave their homes when all this is over because it’s become the norm for them.

“So we’ve got that kind of relationship going with the BBC, which is really good.

“I find them very genuine in the fact that they do want to learn, they do want to understand.

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“But to be quite honest we are still targeting the Government, because we actually know it’s their fault for the free licence revocation.”

Ms Shortt has made a case for reinstatement of free TV licences for all over 75s, while outlining the financial hardships many currently face.

She said: “The meeting with the BBC was robust on both sides – there are still approximately 1.4 million over-75s who have not paid their licence, because they are perhaps financially struggling to do so. However, we welcome the BBC’s willingness to continue a dialogue with us, particularly on the poverty, isolation and loneliness faced by so many older people.

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“The NPC has always believed the free TV licence is part of a wider package of universal entitlements and concessions for older people that should be the responsibility of the government and not the BBC.

“As part of new campaign to save all concessions for older people – from the free bus pass to the heating allowance, as well as the need to raise the pension credit threshold – the NPC will now be writing to the government and all MP’s as a matter of urgency.

“In the meantime, we look forward to meeting with BBC on major issues of deep concern to both organisations.”

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