Over-75s ‘losing out’ in talks on licence fee

TV licence: Dennis Reed criticises ‘stupid’ BBC plan

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Negotiations with the broadcaster for the next five years are in the final stages and ministers are understood to want the BBC to limit levy increases below inflation. Oilver Voices said the move would put the corporation’s budget under strain, making it harder to restore the free licences. Director Dennis Reed said he was disappointed the Government was not using the talks to make the over-75s licence fee issue “go away” despite ministers criticising the corporation for axing the benefit last year.

He said: “The BBC is going to be even more cash-strapped and that will make it more difficult on this issue.

“I would like some guarantees about the over-75s from the Government; now is the ideal time.”

The free licences were scrapped last year, with a grace period on payment ending on July 31.

Only those who receive pension credit do not have to pay the annual £159 bill.

The Government allowed it to rise in line with inflation for five years from 2017.

But now ministers worry about hitting households with higher bills so want to keep it below inflation.

No 10 said: “No decisions have been made and we’d announce a decision to Parliament in due course.”

Ex-BBC chairman Lord Grade said the BBC was “not immune from what’s going on in the rest of the country”.

But ex-director-general Greg Dyke said the broadcaster “needs to be properly funded”.

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