Portsmouth pensioners to protest over 'disgraceful' changes to TV licence by the BBC

Campaigners have already staged rallies outside BBC Media City in Salford, Greater Manchester. Now they will be holding a rally in Portsmouth's Gunwharf Quays shopping centre. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Campaigners have already staged rallies outside BBC Media City in Salford, Greater Manchester. Now they will be holding a rally in Portsmouth's Gunwharf Quays shopping centre. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
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FURIOUS pensioners will storm a shopping centre tomorrow over shock plans to axe free TV for people over 75.

Campaigners from the Pompey Pensioners will be protesting outside the BBC building in Gunwharf Quays from midday.

The outcry comes after the BBC revealed it would be pulling the plug on free TV licences for those over 75.

The announcement by the corporation sparked fury and led to fears pensioners could become ‘isolated’, leading some of the vulnerable elderly people to take their own lives.

Steve Bonner, chairman of the Pompey Pensioners, said: ‘This situation is a disgrace. We have one of the poorest state pensions in western Europe.

‘We already have pensioners who are so poor they’re having to decide whether they pay for heating or food.

‘Now those who are the poorest and not receiving a full pension will be expected to pay £154.50 for a TV licence - that’s a whole week’s earnings.’

About 3.7 million pensioners aged over 75 are set to lose the entitlement, including more than 14,000 people across Portsmouth.

However, more than one million UK households will still receive free TV licences.

Under the new rules, only low-income households where one person receives pension credit benefit would be eligible for a free television licence.

This means from June 2020, up to 3.7 million pensioners across the country will have to pay the £154.50 fee every year should they want to watch television.

Mr Bonner, 71, of Southsea, added the decision would deprive the most vulnerable people in the area of a vital lifeline to the outside world.

Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP, agreed and has called on the prime minister to step in.

In a joint letter to Theresa May, with Dr Alan Burnett, president of Portsmouth Pensioners Association, he said: ‘It is now crystal clear that under the BBC’s plans to means-test the free licence, many hundreds of thousands of the poorest older people will lose out.

‘Many people in our communities and across the nation battle social isolation and loneliness. For many in our city the TV is their friend. Saving the current scheme would  mean so much to so many older people in Portsmouth.’