Charity to help over 75s over free TV licence eligibility

People aged 75 and over are being encouraged to find out if they are eligible for Pension Credit which could allow them to claim a free TV licence.

The new fee for over 75s begins from Saturday, August 1.

Age Scotland is urging people to call its helpline on 0800 12 44 222 ahead of the introduction of the BBC’s new fee next month.

The helpline offers a full benefits check on behalf of older people to identify everything they are entitled to claim.

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Last week the BBC announced that it plans to means test TV licences for the over 75s from Saturday, August 1.

This means licences will only be free for people receiving Pension Credit, however, two-fifths of people who are entitled to this benefit – about 100,000 pensioners in Scotland – aren’t getting it.

The charity is now calling on anyone over 75, who is unsure, to contact their free helpline and ask for a benefits check.

Age Scotland is also highlighting the significant danger for older people of being targeted by scammers attempting to take advantage of the introduction of new charges.

The charity urges over 75s not to reply to emails asking for bank details to pay for their TV licence or give details over the phone to callers who claim to be from the TV Licencing Authority.

Brian Sloan, chief executive of Age Scotland, said: “The decision to scrap free TV licences for over 75s is a cruel blow to hundreds of thousands of older people in Scotland and the timing is appalling, coming as it does during an uniquely challenging time for one of our most vulnerable populations.

“Around half of all over 75s are living with a disability and many rely on their TV for companionship and entertainment. During the coronavirus crisis the overwhelming majority of older people have been glued to their TV to stay up to date with what is happening and how it affects them.

“In Scotland, nearly a third of over 75s are living in poverty and just above the poverty line. Expecting them to pay a hefty bill with hardly any notice is simply impossible when so many are barely scraping by as it is.

“We have a real fear that many vulnerable and lonely older people who are faced with the stark choice of whether to pay to watch TV or pay for other essentials, such as heating or food, will choose TV and end up suffering as a result.”