The Media Reform Coalition has published its submission to the ongoing consultation on who should fund free licences for the over-75s. The BBC is set to assume full responsibility for the £750 million cost from 2020. We have no desire to see this “concession” disappear but believe that the government should fully fund it seeing as it was included as a central platform of their welfare policy in the Conservatives’ 2015 manifesto. Given that this option is not even included in the consultation, the MRC believes that the “least worst” option – the one that is most “progressive” – is to means-test the concession and to link eligibility to the receipt of Pension Credit. We believe, however, that there needs to be root and branch reform of the funding of the BBC in line with our programme of change:
The licence fee system should be maintained but radically reformed, with the rate set by an independent, non-market, regulator. Television licences should be replaced with a digital licence fee based on internet access rather than possession of television receiving equipment. The new digital licence fee should be payable by all households via their Internet service provider (ISP). To avoid payment falling disproportionately on lower income groups, the fee should be pegged to households’ council tax bands
You can read the full submission here.
The consultation ends on 12 February and you can find details of it here.