Recently I called the current Tory government ‘the most heartless in living memory’. I did our memory a disfavour; they are possibly the most heartless ever. The latest example is the abolition of the government support for the payment of the TV licence fee for the over seventy fives.
In 2000 the then Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, abolished the payment of the fee for the elderly because he felt that the TV was often the only way that elderly people, often immobile, could keep in touch with the outside world or simply be entertained. He decreed that the Labour Government would fund the cost, one of the many forgotten measures when the Labour Government of the time put the welfare of its citizens first.
The effect of Osborne’s ruling is that when fully implemented in 2020 the shortfall will amount to £750m a fifth of the BBC’s income (Guardian 6th July 2015). So the Tory government will hit two birds with the same stone; the ideologically hated BBC and the elderly who are seen by the Tories as an unwanted liability to our economy and dispensable.
Now, the BBC faces a difficult dilemma; they need the money desperately but how do they find the additional cash without upsetting their Tory paymasters who are desperate for any excuse to kick the BBC even if they have to use the elderly to do it. They cannot increase the licence fee so some bright spark at the Corporation has come up with the clever idea of shaming the elderly into voluntarily paying the fee after all. And how will they achieve this I hear you ask? Well, of course, they will produce an advert full of wealthy elderly people ( Helen Mirren, Michael Parkinson and Terry Wogan have been suggested) appealing (!) to the rest of the elderly to give up their hard earned pension to subsidise, in effect, this grubby Tory government (Daily Mirror 26th January 2016).
These rich celebrities should know better; after all what is £150 per year to the likes of Mirren and Parkinson, well a damn site less than an over 75 living in social housing in Walton or Hersham. I hope they examine their consciences and refuse to appear. But the powers that be know that if there is one thing that elderly people have it is pride and they hope that this will be enough to encourage them to stump up.
Why doesn’t this heartless Tory government just come clean and admit that it is going to increase the pressure on hard working people who are now trying to enjoy the autumn of their lives? The same people who have paid taxes for at least 60 years and a TV licence since 1946 though I doubt that many of them could have afforded a TV back then. The abolition of the TV licence fee is a right for these people not a perk. But it gives the Tories the opportunity to reduce the subsidy to the BBC making the corporation weaker and at the same time reducing the Exchequer’s expenditure without admitting it is again cutting support for the more vulnerable in our society.
But I have a brilliant idea, why don’t we all change our surname to ‘Google’ then we will be asked how much we wish to pay and can settle for any amount we like. Sorted.