ALMOST 11,000 pensioners in York will be hit by the BBC’s decision to scrap free TV licences for over 75s, a city MP said.

Earlier this week it was announced that from June 2020, people over the age of 75 who do not claim pension credit will have to start paying £154.50 for the BBC TV licence.

Speaking in the House of Commons, York Central MP Rachael Maskell, said the decision, taken by the Government, was “cruel”, adding: “These benefits were introduced, not just to provide financial support but also to help alleviate the impact of isolation, loneliness, and manage rising fuel bills.

“With 1.9 million people living in poverty in later life, it is benefits like the free TV licences that can make a difference in someone’s life. To have to pay the licence fee would set someone back by £154.50 a year.

“Lord Reith, in setting up the BBC, wanted it to be inclusive to ‘inform, educate and entertain’ the public and it brings a huge amount of pleasure to the 3.7 million older people across the UK today. Many older people may not see anyone during any given day, and with community service cuts and the closure of lunch clubs, too many pensioners are isolated in their own homes.”

She added: “It’s appalling that this Tory Government off-loaded responsibility for funding free TV licences to the BBC. This is a social policy and a welfare benefit and as such should be fully funded by the Government.”

According to government figures, 1.3 million families across the UK who are entitled to receive pension credit do not claim the benefit.

Jeremy Wright, The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said the move was the BBC’s responsibility.

He said: “It is not shifting the blame to say so - it is pretty much quoting word for word what the Digital Economy Act 2017 says. What we should now do is seek to address what else the BBC can do in this space, and that is what we are going to do.”

A spokeswoman for Age UK in York said it would help pensioners to check whether they are entitled to pension credit.

She said: “Even if you don’t think you are entitled to pension credit, please do contact us and we can help you find out. If you are in doubt it is always better to check it out.”