If the government promises a welfare payment to older people it should come from general taxation
In the budget today the chancellor will announce a deal between the BBC (desperate to survive) and the government (desperate to offload every service possible).
The result of this deal is another kick in the teeth for ‘Generation Y’ from a government which only ever sees young people as economy robots to pay for votes from older people.
In the deal, the BBC will no longer receive the difference from those over 75 who do not have to pay the licence fee – effectively a £600 million cut in BBC budget. Instead the BBC will have to swallow the cut in order to keep the licence fee. The sweetener is to ‘possibly’ have the law changed to allow a charge for use of the iPlayer.
So, let’s just get this straight: the government promises free stuff to those over 75. To pay for this they have told the BBC ‘they must pay for the difference’ costing £600 million, which will come from the BBC budget – otherwise known as my (and your) licence fee.
Because the government wants to give free stuff to old people, I will pay for their TV licences and reduce the amount of money that can go creative projects, quality news programming or coverage aimed at younger people (BBC3 will soon be taken off air).
I am not against the principle of those who receive a state pension getting free TV licences. Nor do I object to modernising the licence fee to cover iPlayer services. I do, however, object to the £145.50 a year I give the BBC being used to fund free licences promised by the government.
The licence is a flat rate fee. It does not take into account how much I earn, how many children I have, if I am in work, or if I am a pensioner who went to university for free, made money in the boom years and now own my own house.
Put simply, if the government promises a welfare payment to older people it should come from general taxation – where differences in income are taken into account.
This is nothing more than a 1/5th budget cut to the BBC which will threaten coverage, creative industries and the ongoing success of one of the only British institutions still respected worldwide.
I guess I shouldn’t be concerned. If the Conservatives have their way, when I am 75 I won’t pay a licence fee because there will be no BBC left.
Matt Aldridge works in Social Policy from central London. Follow him on Twitter
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