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BBC licence fee level must be set independently next year after government cuts force the BBC to end free TV licences for most over-75s.

September 29, 2020 12:42 PM

Ed Davey and Ali Avaei"The Government must never again be allowed to force the BBC into a corner where it has to choose between cuts to programming or raising these fees on the most vulnerable," says Cllr Ali Avaei, who leads for Newcastle Liberal Democrats on media and culture issues, and is seen with the Liberal Democrats Leader Ed Davey.

"The Party, which led a cross party group of 106 parliamentarians calling for a review of the decision to cut hundreds of BBC staff working across regional programmes, has agreed plans to protect the long-term future of the BBC.

"The Government must also uphold its promise to retain the licence fee model until the end of the current Charter period in December 2027, and for a transparent and independent body to review the cost of the licence next year.

"Families around the UK have flocked to the BBC during the coronavirus pandemic as a source of trusted news, entertainment and education, demonstrating the true value of public service broadcasting at a time of national crisis.

"As families face serious financial hardship and the prospect of local lockdowns, it is absurd that the BBC is left with no choice but to cut jobs and programmes that will reduce people's ability to know what's going on in their area.

"Ending free TV licences for the over 75s, which could push some of the poorest pensioners into poverty, jars with common decency.

"We must be clear: the responsibility of these cuts falls squarely at the feet of Conservative Ministers. With these plans, it is no wonder we can find neither hide nor hair of Boris Johnson when proper media scrutiny comes calling.

"To save BBC programming we must never again allow Ministers to force the BBC into a corner where it has to choose between cuts to programming or raising these fees on the most vulnerable. That means ensuring the licence fee is set independently."