Pensioners in Salford will have already started to receive notification letters from TV Licencing that they will need to provide proof that they qualify for Pension Credit in order to maintain eligibility for a free over 75's licence.
The deadline was postponed from the end of May until the end August as a result of the coronavirus pandemic impacting on staffing levels. Letters should already have started to drop through letter boxes of pensioners in Salford and with the current licences due to expire at the end of this month, time is of the essence if you are lucky enough to be able to apply to continue receiving the concessionary licence.
Those who do not qualify for pension credit will now be faced with paying the cost of an annual licence which currently stands at £157.50, a hefty price for some who have increasingly had to rely on their televisions for news and updates as they shielded during lockdown.
Age UK has drawn criticism as it was revealed that in order to provide proof of the benefit, elderly people would have to venture out to the post office to photocopy their entitlement letters and post a return them in an envelope, with no option available to do so online.
The charity says that this will force pensioners who remain shielded to venture out, putting themselves at unnecessary risk of exposure to the virus at a time when infection rates are increasing again across the UK.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said:
“The last thing anyone in the BBC or Government wants, I am sure, is to add to the risks of any older person contracting this deadly virus and yet, as it stands, the BBC’s replacement scheme looks like doing precisely this.
“That’s because the new process it envisages will force some older people out and about to get their pension credit documents photocopied, or lead to them hosting a visit from staff whose job it is to help them to complete the new forms.
“Both these activities go against the current guidance for older people who are shielding and that’s because they increase the risk of infection. The more these activities can be avoided the better, for as long as coronavirus continues to circulate in our society.
“For both moral and public health reasons free TV licences for our over-75s should be retained.”
Meanwhile it has emerged that scammers have been targeting the elderly. Trading standards across the whole UK have warned elderly people to be on guard for fake emails purportedly from TV Licencing which demand immediate payment or ask that people update their personal financial details.
If you receive and email asking for this then it is fraudulent as TV licencing will never ask customers to do this.
These emails are easily spotted as they often omit any personal details and usually start with the words Dear Customer rather than the customers actual name.
You should never provide any financial details to anyone who you do not know.
Edited by KARL