North Antrim MP Ian Paisley has responded to an announcement by the BBC that it intends to scrap the universal provision of free TV licences for over-75s.
Under the plans only households with one person who receives pension credit still will be eligible.
The DUP MP said: “The BBC have taken a decision to scrap the free TV licence for up to 3.7million older people right across the United Kingdom.
“There will be a suspicion that the BBC has taken the easy option. They have burdened a huge number of pensioners with this cost instead of looking at other options.
“We already know that 650,000 of the poorest pensioner households are eligible, but do not claim Pension Credit. We know therefore that these households will be forced to pay under this announcement.
“Passing this cost on to pensioners will not solve the real long-term issues facing the BBC however; that the licence fee has outlived its time.
“Consumers have changed their viewing habits and how they purchase what they view but the BBC has failed to adapt to the modern broadcasting landscape.
“During the course of this Parliament the DUP has taken action to protect pensioner benefits such as the Winter Fuel Allowance and ensure they remain universal benefits.
“We will continue to support and defend such universal benefits. The changes to this system brings not just a financial cost, but will see many older people faced with this extra charge when they consider whether to continue with what can be their main outlet to the wider world.
“If the BBC are determined to press ahead then it must be monitored closely by Parliament. The BBC must be held properly to account for the decisions they are taking and the impact it will have on many people who can ill-afford this extra financial burden.”
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