PENSIONERS in Clacton have been left angry after being told free TV licences for all over 75s will be scrapped.

From June next year, a free TV Licence will only be available to households with someone aged over 75 who receives Pension Credit.

Everyone aged over 75 currently gets a free licence to use BBC television and online services, such as iPlayer, but it is thought more than three million pensioners will now have to pay the fee.

It was previously feared that Clacton will be one of the worst hit places in the country for pensioners losing their free TV licences.

There are 10,480 older households in Clacton, but it is believed that 7,910 will lose their free licences.

Mike Le Cornu, chairman of the Tendring Pensioners’ Action Group, said he is “dismayed” the plan will be implemented.

“Many elderly people sadly rely on TV as their only social contact,” he said.

“For those pensioners who have to choose between food or heating, the added cost of a TV licence will cause hardship.

“According to the National Pensioners Convention, the take up of pension credit is lower than it should be due to many elderly people finding the process difficult to navigate, means testing of TV licences is yet more bureaucracy to deal with at a time in life when things should be easier and society should be looking after its members who have spent their lives caring for others.

“Means testing is also costly and is likely to cost more than the free TV licence to implement.

“It is a sad indictment of our society that we do not do more to help combat loneliness.

“But if giving a free TV licence to over 75s is the only way that we can help to fight the isolation that many elderly people suffer from, we should give it freely and be fighting this cruel legislation with all of our power.

“In giving responsibility for the over 75s TV licence to the BBC, the Government is abdicating its responsibility.”

Clacton MP Giles Watling said he wrote to the BBC to ask that the concession be continued.

“I am pleased that the BBC will continue to grant free licenses to those over 75 in receipt of pension credit,” he said.

“This means that those most in need, who would find the £154.50 annual payment difficult to find, would not have to pay.

“However, I am aware that this is an issue that might, if not properly handled, lead to some social isolation and I am saddened that the BBC has come to this conclusion.

“It has to be said that we are in a situation where wealth is increasingly held by our older population and our younger population are increasingly paying for the old. A balance must be struck.”