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Caroline Abrahams director of Age UK said: “It will be extremely frustrating for older people to hear how potentially risky the process of apply ing for a free licence may be. “Creating and sending copies of personal and sensitive financial material can expose older people to ID theft and fraud.” In response to the story, Conservative MP Esther McVey said: “Surely not?! Security alert.”
This news comes as the BBC ploy to charge the licence fee for over-75s has floundered after the organisation’s website crashed when pensioners attempted to pay.
The pensioners who attempted to pay for their TV licence received a message that read, “temporarily unavailable while we update it for the changes to over-75s licences”.
Labour peer Lord Faulks of Cumnock called the latest “farcical”.
He added: “We said that this would be a logistical nightmare, and that has proved to be the case.
“This has also caused considerable worry for elderly people who are already worried about how they will pay for their licence.”
The organisation is now demanding to see pensioners bank statements in order to allow them to keep their free licences.
The £157.50 fee will only be exempt for people who are on pension credits.
Many pensioners are unaware that they could be exempt from paying for the licence.
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Age UK said more than 500,000 pensioners were unaware they could qualify for a free licence.
The charity said there are up to 590,000 pensioners who are on pension credit who have failed to claim for the free licence.
The BBC argues that they need to impose the licence on over-75s or else they will have to axe BBC Two, BBC Four, Radio 5 Live and other channels and radio stations.
Ms Abrahams, of Age UK, said: “As things stand, more than half a million of the poorest pensioners will still have to pay for a licence.
“This will mean they will have to cut spending on other essentials like food or heating, give up TV altogether, or keep watching without a licence, in breach of the law.
“Plus, there’s the over-75s whose income is just a few pounds or even pence too high for them to qualify for pension credit.
“As the disastrous impact of the BBC’s plan on some of our ‘oldest old’ becomes apparent, we hope this will bring the corporation and the Government back to the table.”
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