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2019 National Retired Members Conference
12 June 2019

Conference notes that since November 2000, those over 75 have been entitled to a free television licence and that until 2017/18 this was wholly funded by the government. Conference also notes that it is now partly government funded, and that the funding for the scheme will become entirely a matter for the BBC from June 2020. Conference observes that between November 2018 and February 2019 the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) conducted a consultation on options including alternatives to the current arrangement, aiming to publish its response to the consultation in June 2019.

Conference recalls the Emergency Motion passed by 2018 National Retired Members Conference and notes motions 54 and 55 to National Delegate Conference 2019 regarding television licences for the over 75s.

Conference further notes with approval the Early Day Motion tabled in the House of Commons by Jeremy Corbyn MP on 4th February 2019 which reads: “That this House notes that maintaining free TV licences for over 75s was a 2017 Conservative manifesto commitment; acknowledges that 2.2 million over 75s live alone and that paying the licence fee could push 50,000 pensioners below the poverty line; acknowledges that 4 million households will be affected if the concession is ended, that 3 million will be impacted if the concession is linked to Pension Credit, and that 1.5 million households would lose out if the qualifying age was raised to 80; welcomes the petition by Age UK on the issue; and calls on the Government to guarantee the maintenance of free TV licences for the over 75s beyond 2020”, which has attracted 135 signatures from members across all parties.

Conference considers that there is a need for UNISON and its allies to continue to campaign for the existing scheme to remain available to everybody over 75, be made permanent, and return to being funded from taxes rather than by younger licence payers or by cutting BBC services.

Conference instructs the National Retired Members’ Committee to work with the National Executive Council with a view to UNISON helping to defend this universal benefit in both the short and long term, including raising with Labour Link the need for a renewed commitment from the Labour Party in its manifesto for the next general election.