TWO Gwent MPs have said they are concerned plans to abolish free TV licences for over-75s will rob many not only of entertainment, but also companionship.

Last month the BBC announced free licences would no longer be available to all over-75s from June 2020. Only households in which one person receives pension benefit will continue to be eligible.

And, speaking in a debate on the issue in Parliament earlier this week, MPs for Newport East Jessica Morden and Blaenau Gwent Nick Smith said they were concerned about the plans.


Both said they were worried older people who live alone would be particularly badly affected by the change, which is estimated to impact 23,450 households in Gwent alone.

Ms Morden said: "TV licences are an important benefit for older people, who suffer disproportionately from isolation and loneliness.

"As the excellent Age Cymru has said, for millions of over-75s the TV is not just the box in the corner - it is their constant companion, their window on the world and their main form of company.

"TV is also an essential source of information for people who are not online, and it plays a crucial role in their ability to be an active citizen in our democracy.

"Research from Age Cymru shows that only 29 per cent of over-75s in Wales use the internet. The shift to information being online has already made it more difficult for older people to keep informed and to access key services.

"Removing the entitlement to a free TV licence would add substantially to these difficulties."

Mr Smith raised similar concerns, saying, for many older people who live alone, television represents not just entertainment, but also a form of companionship.

Ms Morden also said she was concerned studies by the Department for Work and Pensions had shown around two in every five people eligible for pension credit were not claiming the benefit, and called on the government to act to address the issue.