TV Licences for over-75S

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:10 pm on 8th May 2019.

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Photo of Hugh Gaffney Hugh Gaffney Labour, Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill 4:10 pm, 8th May 2019

I agree with my hon. Friend. The Government’s failure to keep their promise will also lead to greater loneliness among Scottish pensioners. Age Scotland has highlighted the fact that 100,000 older people feel lonely all or most of the time, with half of over-75s saying that their main form of company is the TV or a pet. I recently visited my dad. I asked him whether I could switch his telly over to another channel, and he said that he only puts the telly on to hear voices. He is 80 years old. Dad, I will make more visits.

Let us not forget that more than half of over-75s do not use the internet and greatly rely on television for news. The Government will therefore be forcing older people throughout Scotland into digital exclusion. We should not be surprised by yet another broken promise from this Government to the elderly. We need only look at the way that the WASPI women have been treated—I will continue to support their campaign for justice. The Government continue to pursue pension credit changes, which will hit the finances of mixed-age couples across Scotland. I call on the Government to learn from their past failures and to take immediate steps to protect free TV licences for the over 75s, or pensioners will rightly conclude that this is a Government that fails to look after their interests and their welfare and they will let you know how they think at the ballot box.

I have spoken to retired members from the Communications Workers Union and Unison. They have worked hard all their life and have earned the right to enjoy their retirement, which for them includes a free TV licence.