Andrew Neil has called for a BBC campaign to help clear public confusion over the over-75s TV license fee.
The BBC political correspondent and former host of late-night politics show This Week was asked by Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain about the corporation’s decision to “enter… into a deal with the Conservatives” and take on the free licence fee.
“The BBC took it on but only until the end of a particular period and then it was up to the BBC to decide what to do,” Neil said. “I know plenty of well off 75-year-old’s. Should they get a free TV licence?”
When Morgan pointed out that there are also many ” very poor 75-year-olds,” Neil clarified that less well-off pensioners would still be able to claim the free license. “But most of them will still get it,” he said, to which Morgan countered that “most of them don’t claim it”.
Neil added: “Then there should be a campaign, and perhaps the BBC should be a part of that, to encourage them to do so. I mean, the government played a sleight of hand here. They basically dumped social policy onto the BBC.”
In 2015 former culture secretary John Whittingdale announced that the corporation would bear the cost of the licence fee exemption for over-75s, previously absorbed by the government. However, the BBC has since decided to only provide free TV licences to those over-75s on pension credit.
In Wednesday’s interview, Neil added that pensioners’ confusion was “partly because they’ve been misled into thinking they’re going to lose their free licence”.
“They’re the ones that won’t lose their free licence, nor should they lose it.”