GUM UP THE WORKS CAMPAIGN
From 1 August 2020, Silver Voices launched a campaign of direct action to ‘gum up the works’ of TV Licensing to force the BBC and Government to find ways to reinstate the free TV licence for the over 75s. The plan is for all over 60s to complicate and delay payments of the fees to ensure collection and enforcement become unworkable.
STOP PRESS: Nine out of ten of our over 75s members have voted to support a national TV licence fee strike in protest at the scrapping of their right to a free TV licence. Silver Voices will support and advise all senior citizens who have decided to withhold their licence fee. The immediate objective of the action is to persuade the Government and the BBC to stop blaming each other and discuss ways to restore free licences as soon as possible.
Action for all 60-74-year olds from Saturday 1 August:
1 If you pay your licence by annual, quarterly or monthly direct debits, stop them and write to TV Licensing (TV Licensing, Darlington,DL98 1TL) stating that you are stopping your direct debit in protest at the scrapping of free licences for the over 75s; and that in future you will only settle licence matters by cheque/postal order and by post, rather than online.
When you eventually get a letter from TV Licensing, demand that you should be able to pay monthly by cheque (at the moment, you can only pay monthly by direct debit which is clearly age discriminatory). Appeal when they refuse.
When you eventually come to pay your licence by cheque, use creative individual ways to complicate payments further. Some members have suggested writing cheques in their preferred language and not checking date or signature as carefully as normal.
If you can’t afford to pay the full licence fee by cheque, then you could reinstate your direct debit, but cancel it again after one monthly payment and repeat the process!
In all correspondence with TV Licensing make sure you include your address and current licence number so that it is clear that you are not refusing to pay, merely querying the means for doing so.
2 If you pay your licence fee annually by credit card or bank transfer then wait until you get your renewal notice and then follow all the steps above.
3 If you pay your licence by TV Licensing Payment Card, then some have suggested that you might forget to make a payment and wait for a reminder letter to be sent to you.
Action for all over 75-year olds from Saturday 1 August
We know that many over 75s will refuse to make any payment on principle, in protest at the loss of this benefit. We support this stand on moral grounds, but Silver Voices is not asking you to take illegal action. This is why we are asking all older people to take solidarity action with you.
The BBC has issued an official notice to say that you do not have to do anything until you receive an official letter from TV Licensing and have agreed a payment plan with them. The terms of your current licence are automatically extended until this happens, but will be cancelled “if you do not reply to our letter within two months of receiving it”. TV Licensing is in a state of chaos already over implementing this policy and as at the beginning of October these letters were still going out!
When you eventually receive your letter from TV Licensing, follow all the steps for 60-74-year olds in paragraph 1 above. In addition, you may wish to appeal for a free licence even though you are not eligible for pension credit, on the grounds of your personal circumstances (e.g. paying for social care or on health grounds).
If you receive pension credit, then please do apply for exemption on those grounds.
EXTEND SHIELDING SUPPORT
Silver Voices is campaigning for shielding support for “extremely vulnerable” people to be extended until at least the end of the year. The Government plans to end their support for the free delivery of food and medicines, and the right to sick pay for shielders, from 1 August 2020. You can sign our petition for this campaign on the following link: https://www.change.org/KeepShieldingSupport
MAKE FACE MASKS COMPULSORY
Silver Voices has launched a petition to make the wearing of face masks compulsory where social distancing is difficult. No other country is easing lock down without considering the essential use of face masks in confined spaces. Sign the petition here:
PENSION CREDIT CAMPAIGN
Silver Voices is supporting the Independent Age campaign to end the low take-up of pension credit. Only 60% of those entitled to pension credit actually receive it and £3.5 billion is returned to the Treasury each year. We are calling on the Government to publish an action plan to ensure that every older person eligible for the benefit receives it. You can write to your MP to support this campaign on the following link: https://campaigns.independentage.org/pension-credit-scandal
We are campaigning against the excessive costs of funerals which are now a national disgrace, with funeral directors taking advantage of people when they at their most vulnerable. We will be trying to influence the current investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority.
FREE PERSONAL CARE CAMPAIGN
Silver Voices is strongly supporting the campaign of Independent Age for free personal care for all, on the same basis as medical care under the NHS. In the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis we will be arguing for huge extra resource commitments to remedy a collapsing social care system and a dysfunctional market.
GENERAL ELECTION 2019
Silver Voices published a manifesto seeking commitments on senior citizen issues from all political parties in the General Election campaign. All our members were consulted on the policy priorities for the manifesto. The manifesto sought commitments:
- To introduce free social care, and increase funding by £8 billion to address current unmet need amongst older people
- To increase funding for the NHS (over and above that already announced) and to reverse privatisation of NHS services
- To sort out the collapsing residential homes market and rebuild public provision
- To agree a national strategy to increase the stock of accessible housing to reflect an ageing population
- To protect existing universal entitlements (bus passes, winter fuel allowances, free prescriptions and retention of free TV licences)
- To adopt a national strategy for our bus infrastructure and reverse recent cuts to bus routes
- To retain the ‘triple lock’ on state pensions and commit to move towards a ‘living pension’ rate linked to the real living wage
- To provide greater support for older carers, including eligibility for the Carer’s Allowance (those on state pension are currently ineligible)
- To restore local government funding to improve community services, libraries, highways, street lighting, parks, community transport etc.
- To extend inspection to all sheltered and supported housing for older people to prevent financial abuse and neglect
- To increase state support for dementia research and staff training
- To introduce a compensation scheme for women born in the 1950s who lost out due to a rise in the state pension age with insufficient notice
The manifesto will form the basis of our lobbying priorities with the new Government.