By Mimi Jones / Press Releases / 0 Comments

New figures revealed by the Labour Party suggest that 83,997 over-75s living with dementia in the South East could lose their free TV licence next year.

Maintaining free TV licences for over-75s was a 2017 Conservative Party Manifesto Commitment, yet universal free TV licences for over 75s are being scrapped from next year.

As part of the BBC charter renewal process the Conservatives forced the BBC to take on the cost of free TV licences and therefore as of next year, only those in receipt of Pension Credit will receive a free TV licence, meaning that 3.7 million older people will lose out across the country.

Just 19% of over 75s are currently in receipt of pension credit, meaning 81% of all over 75s are likely to lose their TV licence.

Free TV licences are an important benefit for older people who suffer disproportionately from loneliness and social isolation. Four in ten older people say the television is their main source of company.

Those no longer eligible for free TV licences will need to apply and pay for a TV licence, and could be criminalised for failing to do so.

Applying for a TV licence could be a challenge for many older people, particularly for those living with dementia.

Rosie Duffield MP, the local MP for Canterbury, Whitstable and surrounding villages said:

“I’m horrified by the news of Conservative plans to strip older people of their free TV licenses. Television, for many older people, does not just provide entertainment but comfort and companionship. Older people often struggle with isolation; this can worsen conditions such as dementia. This plan belies a disregard for the concerns of older people and betrays a callousness toward those who have worked and contributed to this country throughout their lives. I am calling for an immediate halt to this policy.”

NOTES:

Estimates provided by the House of Commons Library are below:

According to the House of Commons Library 19% of people aged 75 or over in Great Britain are on Pension Credit (1,046,833 claimants or partners of claimants, out of a total population aged 75 and over of 5,379,054 in 2018).

From this Labour has made the estimates included in the below table of how many over 75s suffering from dementia in each region will lose their free TV licence.

By Mimi Jones / Latest News / 0 Comments

Kentish Gazette

Rosie Duffield MP column

10.10.19

The NHS is the greatest achievement of the Labour movement. The guarantee of world class healthcare, free at the point of use, is something for which everyone in this country can be truly grateful and of which we can be truly proud.

National treasures, however, require safeguarding, and for the last 9 years the NHS has been under the careless and neglectful stewardship of successive Tory governments. Under austerity, our health services have been cut to the bone with no regard for the impact on people’s lives.

As a result of the downgrading of Kent and Canterbury Hospital, local people face lengthy ambulance journeys to get to Accident and Emergency. In December 2017, it took an average of 54 minutes for an ambulance to reach CT5 postcodes, with the longest wait being 1 hour 49 minutes, when a car ride between Canterbury and Whitstable will take only 20 minutes.

Talking with my constituents, I hear horror stories. I hear from Roberta, who had to wait for 11 hours overnight at A&E to have her 80-year-old husband’s gastric feeding tube refitted. I hear from Claire, who went to A&E with her sick 6-month-old and spent 5 hours standing, holding her baby, because there were no beds or even seats available.

My constituents know that it is not NHS staff who are to blame for these conditions; they know it was not nurses that voted through the Health and Social Care Act 2012, nor was it doctors who misled the public on health reforms. Doctors and nurses and cleaners and midwives and receptionists are the NHS’s lifeblood, and throughout a decade of Conservative rule we have seen them overworked and underpaid.

At last week’s Conservative Party Conference, Boris Johnson promised 40 new hospitals, and subsequently told an audience that one of these would be in Canterbury. I had hoped that this was a genuine announcement and that the Prime Minister had recognised the dire need for the fully funded hospitals across East Kent that I have long campaigned for, both before and since my election as Canterbury’s MP.

For the sake of my constituents, I would much rather have had my cynicism about this announcement proved wrong. However it now appears that this ‘announcement’ is just the latest in a long line of gaffes and that, following a clarification from the Department for Health, the Prime Minster was indeed incorrect to say that Canterbury would be benefiting from a new hospital in this latest funding round.

The Health Secretary Matt Hancock will no doubt be dispatched to East Kent to smooth things over with the local NHS staff, campaigners & politicians, and rightly so. But frankly, I also think that the Prime Minister needs to retract his comments and apologise for raising hopes of patients and NHS staff in Canterbury like this.

In my maiden speech in the House of Commons I said that the NHS is this country’s sickest patient; this remains the case. But with the threat of a No Deal Brexit looming, Boris Johnson’s continued incompetence over policy detail could see this situation go from bad to worse.