Stop bullying our OAPs! Lord Botham tears BBC apart for ‘terrorising’ TV licence fee move

BBC TV licence fee is ‘doomed’ says O’Sullivan

Lord Ian Botham claimed TV license inspectors were visiting retirees homes and aggressively forcing over 75s to pay the £157.60 fee. The retired cricketer and life peer also warned thousands of pensioners across the UK “either can’t afford” to pay the fee or “simply don’t believe it’s worth paying.”

It comes after the Corporation axed the free licence for the age group, with only some exemptions.

The corporation had been sending letters threatening taxpayers with a knock at the door by one of their enforcement officers and fines if they don’t pay the licence cost.

Last night, Lord Botham said thousands were writing to him because they “feel there is no one else listening” to help on the issue.

He claimed they were “fearful of bailiffs and getting a criminal record” because they were refusing to pay.

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The licence fee costs £157.50 a year and pays for BBC shows and services – including TV, radio, the BBC website, podcasts, iPlayer and apps. 

TV licence enforcement is subcontracted to Capita with visits taking place on a daily basis by officers.

Mr Botham added: “It’s saddening because these folk are at their wits’ end but without a voice.

“I know something needs to be done.

“I am happy to help if people in the BBC or Parliament want to talk.

“This is a scandal no one is talking about and it can’t be right that our oldest are on the front line.

“How many even worse cases are waiting to be uncovered?”

He said elderly people who have dementia or are registered blind were even receiving a visit from the controversial enforcement officers.

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One complaint message, sent to Mr Botham, said: “I care for my mum who is 100 years old, extremely frail and registered blind.

“Her pleasures are so small, and revolve exclusively around listening to the TV, where she can hear programmes she remembers from when she was sighted.”

Figures also revealed the corporation sent 525,223 letters to over 75s by the end of November urging them to pay for a TV licence urgently.

Letters told recipients to “arrange payment” or apply for a free licence if they were entitled to them.

Another complaint about the BBC sent to Lord Botham read: “My 90-year-old mother-in-law has had a stroke and yet we have had reams of this stuff through her letter box. This is frightening in the extreme.”

Other letters issued by the Corporation are also being sent to addresses across the UK with a red box telling them they are breaking the law.

The letter, sent to one address makes clear that users could be breaking the law: “Warning, You are in breach of the Communications Act 2003.

“You should expect a visit from Enforcement Officers.”

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden also said the Government would move away from plans to decriminalise non-payment of the TV licence fee at present.

The BBC has been approached for comment.

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