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Army veteran slams decision to scrap free TV licence for over 75s

George Roberts

Army veteran slams decision to scrap TV licence fee for over 75s

An 86-year-old veteran has slated the ‘disgraceful’ decision by the BBC to scrap the free licence fee for over-75s.

From June 2020, about 3.7million pensioners will have to pay £154.50 per year to watch the terrestrial channels.

Those on pension credits will not have to pay.

Derrick Smith, of Fox Road, Slough, has attacked the decision.

Mr Smith, who served in the army with the Royal Signals from 1949 to 1972 said: “Never in this God’s world have I heard of anything more disgraceful than that – if this is Britain in the 21st century then I am glad I am aged 86.

“I shall wear my campaign medals every day now and ask myself what did I soldier for?

“Can I say I am proud to be British? The answer is no.”

In 2015, the Government announced the BBC would take over the cost of providing free licences for over-75s by 2020, but this would have cost the BBC £745million, one-fifth of its total budget.

According to the BBC, paying out that amount would have meant ‘profoundly damaging closures’ to many of its services.

Kevin Griffiths, chief executive of Age Concern Slough and Berkshire East called the decision ‘disrespectful’.

He said: “A few days ago the Prime Minister stood up in France at the D-Day anniversary and said they were the greatest generation.

“Then less than a week later this happens.

“This generation influenced so much of the second part of the 20th century, it’s just disrespectful.”

BBC director-general Tony Hall said: “This has not been an easy decision. While we know pensioner incomes have improved since 2000, we also know that for some the TV licence is a lot of money.

“I believe we have reached the fairest judgement after weighing up all the different arguments.”

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