HUNDREDS of thousands of angry Brits have signed petitions to save free TV licenses for those above the age of 75.

Yesterday, the BBC said the 3.7million pensioners who previously received a free license will have to pay for it from June next year, with charities fearing it will push the poorest into poverty.

From next summer, only households where at least one person receives pension credit – around 900,000 currently – will not have to pay.

But two fifths of people who are entitled to this benefit aren't getting it, according to charity AgeUK.

Some don't know they can claim, many struggle to apply and even more feel embarrassed about needing help, it added.

Last night, Prime Minister Theresa May said she was "very disappointed" with the decision to scrap the free licenses and demanded the BBC to rethink the call.

She's not alone in her opinions, as petitions on the matter have been given a boost in signatures overnight.



One petition by AgeUK have at the time of writing racked up 136,014 signatures.

The charity said: "For over a million of the oldest people in our country, television is their main form of company. Right now, that's under threat."

While one on the parliament's petition website has increased by several thousand signatures just this morning, currently sitting at 6,451.

The petition says: "Continue to fund free TV licences for the over 75 in the future.

"Removing them will only penalize the poorest old age pensioners, many who rely on their television for company and their main source of entertainment."

A separate petition calling for the TV license fee to be scrapped altogether is gaining even more traction, and at the time of writing it has 33,453 signatures but it's rising steadily. 

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Viewers have also vented on Twitter after yesterday's move, where some are concerned it will isolate elderly people who can't afford to pay the fee.

One user said: "The BBC has made me incredibly sad and angry that our older generation are having their entertainment taken away. They have paid the TV license for years.

"My mother-in-law has Alzheimer’s and it’s her company when we aren’t there."

While another added: "This morning my father-in-law is in tears cos he says he now can not afford his TV license.

"He's 86 and only leaves the house to go to the hospital."

A spokesperson for AgeUK told The Sun: "It’s really heartening to hear that people are signing petitions to show their anger about the scrapping of free licences for the over-75s.

"Well over 7,000 more people have signed our petition since yesterday.

"Stripping older people of their free TV licence risks leaving them without one of their few pleasures in life as many just won’t be able to afford a licence.

"The fact is that well over 650,000 over-75s aren’t claiming their Pension Credit and thousands more are barely scraping by, not poor enough to claim benefits but still unable to afford the basics.

"But it is the Government that should take responsibility for this mess – it should never have passed on the funding responsibility to the BBC without a proper debate and public consultation."

BBC chairman David Clementi said yesterday that the move had been a "very difficult decision".

How to watch TV legally without paying for a licence

IN the UK, any household watching or recording live television must hold a TV licence.

In recent years, this has been extended to include BBC programmes on iPlayer, whether they are live, catch up or on demand. But does everyone really need a licence? Here’s the lowdown on how to avoid paying – legally.

On demand TV – like catch-up TV and on demand previews – which are available through services like ITV Player , All4 , My5 , BT Vision/BT TV , Virgin Media , Sky Go , Now TV, Apple TV, Chromecast , Roku and Amazon Fire TV

On demand movies – from services like Sky, Virgin Media, BT Vision, Netflix and Amazon Instant Video

Recorded films and programmes – either via DVD or Blu-ray, or downloaded from the internet

YouTube – On demand video clips through services like YouTube

A TV licence currently costs £154.50 for a colour TV and £52 for a black and white one, although those who are blind or severely sight-impaired are eligible to a 50 per cent discount.

But there are also ways to watch TV legally without a license – here we explain how.

The BBC first announced a consultation into ditching the perk back in November 2018. 

Charity Age UK has warned that the extra bill could trigger "great worry and distress" to thousands of vulnerable pensioners.

Earlier this year we warned that pensioners and people approaching retirement could lose out on £7,000 pension credit and housing benefit if they didn't apply by May 15.

In April, the government hiked the cost of a licence by £4 for the third year in a row. 

Meanwhile, almost 3.5million Brits cancelled their TV licence fee between 2014 and 2018.

The figures showed that many are ditching the BBC in favour of streaming sites such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and NowTV.

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