LOCAL Welsh Labour Member of the Senedd for Alyn and Deeside, Jack Sargeant is backing the campaign to keep TV licenses free for the over-75s.

Free TV licenses for the over-75s were introduced by the last UK Labour Government in November 2000.

Speaking at the time, Chancellor Gordon Brown said: “Taking these measures together — the winter allowance, the TV licence and the higher minimum guarantee — by April next year 1 million pensioners in our country, compared with 1997, will be £20 a week, or £1,000 a year, better off.”

Today the figure is much higher. Research conducted by the House of Commons Library indicates that 4.55 million households benefit from our decision to introduce free TV licenses for the over-75s.

Jack Sargeant MS said in 2019 it was reported the Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed to save free tv-licences for over 75's but has 'not kept that promise'

He told the Leader: "I fully support the campaign to make sure the Tory UK Government keeps their promise to our older generation. The introduction of free TV licenses for the over-75s was one of Labour’s proudest achievements in Government.

"But this is not the only time the Tories have backtracked on their commitment to the over-75s. They stated in their 2017 manifesto that they would maintain all other pensioner benefits, including free bus passes, eye tests, prescriptions and TV licences, for the duration of this parliament. This did not happen."

Research conducted on behalf of the charity Age UK, in July 2019, shows that there is a 'big groundswell of public support' for the continuation of free TV licences for the over-75s, with three-quarters of all those polled believing that the Government should continue to pay for them.

Jack Sargeant MS added: "It’s unacceptable that instead of maintaining free TV licences for the over 75s, the Tory UK Government handed responsibility to the BBC and in the process abdicated their responsibility to administer a key benefit payment.

"I don’t believe it is the job of the BBC to administer means tested benefits to some of our most vulnerable individuals. I believe it is time for Boris Johnson to step up and deliver on his promise to our older generation.

"Those who benefit from the free TV licence are most likely to have had to shield during the Coronavirus pandemic, often leaving them isolated from other social interactions. For many of those people, their TV has been a lifeline, providing their main source of news and crucial information on the outbreak as well as acting as a companion during these difficult times

"It is time for the Tory UK Government to honour its commitments and reverse its cruel decision to force the over 75s to pay for their TV licenses."