Ashfield MP demands Government protects free TV licences for over-75s

The loneliness epidemic that is plaguing modern day society has been well documented, writes Gloria De Piero MP.

Some people, particularly the elderly, see few, if any visitors, struggle to get out and about due to disabilities and don’t have friends or family to speak to on the phone.

For these people, a television can be a lifeline – a link to a world they can feel very isolated from and some company on a quiet day.

Labour introduced free TV licences for over-75’s in 1999 and the Tories promised to keep them free at the last election.

However, the free TV licence is now under threat because the BBC is consulting on whether it should be abolished in order to save money.

The Government is letting the BBC manage the issue, having washed its hands of the responsibility, even though it is a Government-funded scheme.

The BBC is one of the great British institutions that produces well-loved and top quality programmes each year.

Securing the finances it needs to continue to do this is obviously very important, but the cowardly way in which the Government is acting needs calling out - as does the rising numbers of pensioners who are living in poverty.

Meanwhile, the consultation is taking place until February, meaning there is still plenty of time to have your say and make your feelings known if you or a loved one will be affected.

You may be aware that there were some problems with the availability of the flu jab earlier in the season.

NHS England has now confirmed that the shortage is over and is urging those aged over 65 who have not yet had their flu jab to go and get it.

Flu vaccination rates for the over-65s are slightly down on last year but this year’s vaccine is more effective for older adults.

Public Health England has stated that use of this year’s flu vaccine for the over-65s could reduce GP consul-tations by 30,000, hospital-isations by more than 2,000 and prevent more than 700 hospital deaths from flu in England alone.

If you haven’t had yours yet, please go and get it.