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Thousands of local pensioners could be about to lose their FREE TV License

With the Government now allowing the BBC to decide what to do with the benefit from 2020, Labour says one option open to them is to scrap the concession altogether.

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As part of the last BBC charter the Government devolved responsibility for the free TV licence policy, and the cost, to the BBC.

The BBC can decide what to do with the benefit from 2020 and they are currently consulting on a number of options including scrapping the free TV licence concession altogether, raising the eligible age to 80 and means testing it, for example by linking it to pension credit.

Now, new figures released by the Labour Party and produced by the House of Commons Library seem to  show that under each of the changes proposed by the BBC in their consultation, millions of pensioners will lose their free licences.

The figures include:

  • The House of Commons Library calculated that were the free licence linked to pension credit, i.e. means tested, over 3 million people would lose their free licence. If the eligibility age was raised to 80 over 1.8 million older people would lose their free licences.
  • The House of Commons Library has also calculated local figures with 5,510 older households in Crawley at risk of losing their free TV licences.
  • If the age threshold is raised to 80, then 1,840 local pensioners will lose their TV licence. If free TV licences are means tested 4,280 will lose their free licences.
  • The Campaign to End Loneliness found that 40% of older people say their television is their main source of company.
  • Analysis by Age UK found that almost a million (873,000) pensioners wouldn’t have seen or heard from anyone over the festive period.

Peter Lamb, Leader of Crawley Borough council and Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Crawley said:

“The Tory Government knew what it was doing when it forced the cost of paying for free licences for over 75s out to the BBC.

“Labour was completely opposed to this and we are still firmly of the belief that the Government was totally wrong to outsource a social policy in this way.

“It will be a terrible blow to older people who already struggle to make ends meet and particularly to those who are housebound or isolated, and rely on their TV for company.

“The Tory Government needs come clean and to tell us urgently what they are going to do to ensure free TV licences aren’t cut and they don’t break their manifesto promise. If they do nothing, responsibility for older people losing their TV licences will rest firmly at their feet.”

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‘Evidence of my antisemitism is a joke’ – Crawley Councillor explains her decision to go independent

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Northgate and West Green Councillor Karen Sudan has penned a statement following her decision to leave the Labour party, leaving the council with no party majority.

Her resignation statement reads:

“I have been a member of the Labour Party for almost 50 years. I have outstayed many Party leaders and my resignation is nothing to do with the recent change of leadership.

I was elected to be a voice for the people I represent, but Back Benchers under the current Council leadership have to fight to be heard – even those in the controlling group.

The Coronavirus crisis made it even more important for there to be input from all Councillors and at the outset I suggested setting up a crisis committee (which could, and perhaps should, involve opposition members. Their residents have as much right to representation as others). The Council Leader dismissed this suggestion, even though there was support for it from other Labour members. He said that councillors have no role to play in the current crisis, and he has acted unilaterally all along.

Although I would not say that Peter Lamb has not worked hard or done his best, I believe that CBC’s response to the Crisis has been poorer for lack of input from those of us who have a wealth of knowledge and experience, know our Town and understand ‘our’ residents. We are by no means out of the woods with Coronavirus – only yesterday I was discussing with colleagues at West Sussex CC, the likelihood and danger of localised outbreaks and/or a second wave. All elected representatives should have a voice and a role to play. This goes beyond the many things we have done and are doing as human beings to help one another.

This was my position on Saturday evening when I received a ‘Notice of Investigation’ from Party HQ, accusing me of antisemitism, the ‘evidence’ was three tweets, one posted 2017, another 2018 and one from 2020. This ‘evidence’, which I am prepared to share and put before any judge and jury, fiend or enemy, is a joke.

I do not know what triggered this, but I know from others’ experience how the Party works. While I was a Party member, I would be bound to keep this ‘investigation’ confidential. This would lead to gossip and a stain on my character and a great deal of stress. The ‘investigation’ would be allowed to ‘hang’ indefinitely to be used as an excuse to prevent me standing for office again or accepting office such as a Cabinet position.

I have chosen instead to resign my Party membership so that I can continue to focus on the job I have been elected to do (and I do see it as a job) and so that anyone who wishes to judge me can have available the original documents and make up their own mind about my anti-racist credentials.

Councillor Karen Sudan

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