Millions of OAPs have lost out on free TV licences (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
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A free TV licences campaigner has secured a meeting with BBC chief Tim Davie amid renewed pressure on the corporation and Government to restore the benefit for over-75s.
Silver Voices director Dennis Reed, who is due to hold talks with Beeb director-general Mr Davie on June 29, said “the current impasse is unsustainable”.
He told the Mirror: “There is little political support for either the Government or the BBC in maintaining their current positions, and both have a responsibility to try and reach a solution.
“Silver Voices can be the catalyst in bringing this dispute to a head, and we look forward to the meeting with optimism.
Silver Voices director Dennis Reed
“It is just not fair that thousands of poorer, older people, who have paid their taxes for a lifetime, are living in constant fear of a knock on the door because they can’t afford to pay the licence fee for their constant companion, the TV.”
Mr Reed vowed to use the meeting to “confirm that the BBC is sticking to its current policy of not sending enforcement notices or sending round enforcement officers to those who previously received a free licence”.
The meeting is the latest bid to try and restore the £159-a-year lifeline for over-75s.
Tories pledged at the 2017 election to maintain the benefit for the rest of that Parliament, which was due to run for five years.
But the BBC had already been handed responsibility for funding the concession from summer 2020, under a deal agreed in 2015.
BBC director-general Tim Davie
The corporation introduced means-testing last August after warning that keeping licences free for all over-75s would cost £745million by 2021-22.
Only over-75s who receive Pension Credit are now eligible – with an estimated 3.7 million having to pay. The BBC and Government are locked in an ongoing blame game, with ministers saying the broadcaster “agreed to take on responsibility for the over-75s”.
But in an email to Mr Reed, seen by the Mirror, Mr Davie says: “As we have discussed it was the Government who decided to stop this benefit.
“It was the BBC who then consulted on this issue and decided to continue to support the poorest oldest pensioners who receive Pension Credit.”
Labour peer Lord George Foulkes, who chairs Parliament's cross-party group on ageing and older people, said: “Dennis Reed has my full support in his meeting with Tim Davie, who has already promised the BBC will help with a take-up campaign on Pension Credit so more older people will get their licence free.
Lord George Foulkes chairs Parliament's cross-party group on ageing and older people
“Tim Davie now needs to confirm how he will deliver on that promise.
“This is not as good as restoring the free licence, which we are still pressing for everyone, but would be a step forward.”
A BBC spokesman said: “Nine out of 10 older people have made arrangements for their next licence, we are continuing to process applications and are giving older people time to make arrangements.”
The Mirror fought to save free TV licences, with more than 18,000 readers backing the fight by completing coupons in the paper.