The Tory Government the BBC and the Pensioners
The BBC licence fee was frozen throughout the period of austerity following the worldwide financial meltdown.
In 2015, the Corporation claimed to be in deep financial trouble and pleaded to be allowed to increase the licence fee for all subscribers.
The corporation, in 2015, negotiated a deal, with the Tory government permitting increases to the annual compulsory subscription charge to the UK taxpayers.
The revised contract between government and the BBC contained a rider that the corporation would absorb the cost of free licence provision for pensioners over the age of 75, until after the General Election, (June 2020).
The cost of providing free licence fees for pensioners over the age of 75 was previously charged to “Welfare” expenditure and Chancellor Osborne had imposed a £12 billion expenditure ceiling on the department.
The BBC agreed to contain the (time limited) estimated £700 million annual cost, anticipating in return, it would be given free rein over setting the level of the annual licence fee.
Their projection was that a fee of around £200 per annum would need to be charged to the taxpayers (after June 2020) offsetting the cost of maintaining free licences for pensioners over the age of 75.
Noteworthy is the introduction of the 2011, 5 year fixed term Parliament Act, retaining the Tory Party, in government, from 2015 until until May 2020, thereby setting the date of any change to June 2020.
Cameron and Osborne screwed the deal by resigning in 2016, handing the reins of power to Theresa May who called for a snap General Election in that same year. The Tory Party was returned to power, with the dubious support of the Ulster Democratic Unionist Party.
The next General Election is scheduled for May 2022 and it was proposed that the concluding the commitment the Tory Government and the BBC entered into in 2015, should be deferred until after May 2022.
But Jeremy Wright, the current Tory Party, Culture Secretary refused to become involved stating: “The decision is not for the government to make any longer. It is for the BBC to make”.
The fiasco has been a well planned orchestration of events by the Tory Party, transferring the momentum of change away from government to the taxpayers, who will need to decide if they are content to subsidize, (through their annual subscription), the continuance of free licences to pensioners over the age of 75. Likely annual fee in excess of £200.
Meantime BBC management are beavering away preparing the Corporation for a backlash from the taxpayers, who, it is expected will demand a major restructuring of the Corporation meeting the challenges of Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.
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