Petition to abolish TV licence to be debated in parliament after reaching 136,000 signatures
A petition calling for the TV licence to be abolished has reached over 136,000 signatures.
The petition, which was started just before Christmas, smashed its target of 100,000 signatures yesterday, after the BBC announced that free TV licences for over-75s will be means tested from 2020.
The controversial move has drawn criticism from campaigners, who say that television is the main form of company for over a million of the oldest people in our country,
The move would affect the 7,222 households in Ashfield, and 6,495 households in Mansfield.
The petition has gained 298 signatures from Mansfield, and 346 from Ashfield.
Mansfield's MP Ben Bradley said the decision is 'wrong', and that the BBC had let their viewers down.
Mr Bradley said: “The BBC agreed to continue the scheme of free TV licenses for over 75s throughout the course of this Parliament, in return for being able to raise the license fee.
"They've taken the money, but are now not holding up their end if the deal and I think it's wrong for them to let down their viewers in this way”
Ashfield's Mp Gloria De Piero previously blasted the proposals, calling them 'scandalous'.
Mrs De Piero told your Chad in February: "The Campaign to End Loneliness recently found that 40 per cent of older people say that TV is their main source of company.
"So imagine my anger when it became clear that free TV licences for over-75s are under threat.
"The Government has devolved the responsibility - and the cost - of the licences to the BBC, meaning that the BBC is having to make tough decisions about whether free TV licenses, introduced by Labour in 2002, will still be available."
Charity Age UK branded the policy a 'cruel move', saying: "Lots of older people have struggled throughout their working life to save a little extra for retirement.
"But that small pot of savings for a rainy day means they don't qualify for means-tested benefits.
"Others are coping with the costs of ill-health or disability. Taking their free TV licence away is a cruel blow."
Households without anyone who receives Pension Credit will have to pay for a TV license under the new policy.
It is thought that around 3.7 million households across the UK will now have to pay the fee, with around 1.5 million eligible for a free license under the new scheme.
BBC director-general Tony Hall said that the move was "not an easy decision", but argued that the policy was fair.
He said: "Whilst we know that pensioner incomes have improved since 2000, we also know that for some the TV licence is a lot of money.
The government will now debate the petition in parliament, and a date for the debate is due to be announced tomorrow.
The petition, started by Jane Mackinnon, states: "The quality of BBC programmes do not reflect the price of the TV licence. It is far too expensive for the majority of people and should be abolished."
Any petition that reaches 100,000 signatures will be debated in parliament.
Tory PM hopeful Esther McVey spoke out against the criminalisation of non-payment, tweeting: "The BBC has abandoned its promise to give free TV licences to over 75s. Now, millions of pensioners could be arrested for failing to pay fines.
"As PM I’d decriminalise non-payment of the BBC TV licence for all"
You can view the petition here: Abolish the BBC television licence