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Shropshire Star comment: Our elderly deserve an easier time

By Shropshire Star | Opinions | Published:

The row between the Government and the BBC over who should pay for TV licences for pensioners shows no sign of slowing down.

The Government can’t afford to pay it, so wants the BBC to do so.

The BBC can’t afford it either, so has decided to pass on the cost to pensioners.

Up to 3.7 million people will be affected, and as the population continues to age that number will rise.

And while the poorest pensioners will be protected; many will have to stretch their household budget to breaking point if they are to continue to watch television.

Inevitably, there will be fines and court cases further down the line as those who police the system find people on the fringes who have been unable to pay it and have decided to take a risk.

Our sympathies are with the pensioners, for they are the innocent victims in all of this.

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They have paid a lifetime’s worth of taxes on the premise that they would be able to enjoy a range of benefits in their dotage.

Those are being taken away from them, one by one, as the nation’s purse strings are pulled ever tighter.

It is unfair, it is unpleasant and a group of individuals who do not deserve such misfortune find themselves on the wrong side of a poor deal.

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And yet it is symptomatic of a bigger problem afflicting society. The issue of TV licences for the elderly is just the latest difficult choice that we as a society have to make.

There are no easy answers and it is too simplistic to blame the BBC, for it has been handed the burden from government ministers who did not have the courage to make a similar decision for themselves.

Similar issues mount as the nation struggles to recover from the 2008 crash, including social care. In many ways, the ageing of our population is one of the most serious issues to face this nation – and yet it remains one of the most under-reported amid Brexit.

In an ideal world, pensioners would receive TV licences, cold weather payments, social care places and other services for free. And yet we no longer live in an ideal world; we are far from that.

It is time for a national debate on how we care for our elderly and how those bills are met.

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