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Brown tells May to deal with ‘injustice’ of TV licence cuts before leaving power

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Gordon Brown today urges Theresa May to reverse the Tories’ TV licence betrayal as part of her legacy as Prime Minister.

The ex-Labour leader has already backed the Mirror’s campaign to save free TV licences for over-75s.

And today, he calls on his successor as PM to intervene and halt the looming “scandal” before millions of OAPs are slapped with bills of £154.50 from next June.

The Conservatives pledged at the 2017 election to maintain the benefit for the duration of this

But the BBC was handed responsibility for funding the £745million-a-year bill from June 2020, under a deal stitched up by the Conservatives in 2015.Parliament, due to run until 2022.

The Mirror has been leading the campaign

 

The Corporation has announced only over-75s receiving Pension Credit will be eligible.

Just 1.5 million OAPs are likely to be able to receive a free licence from next June.

An estimated 3.7 million will lose out.

Writing exclusively for the Mirror, Mr Brown urges the PM to use her final three weeks in office to reverse the plan.

He says: “The one person who can solve the problem is Theresa May .

“The burning injustice can be dealt with in the next few days, before she leaves office.

“She will be thanked by not only 3.7million pensioners but by the whole country.

“And she will deserve credit for keeping a manifesto promise she and her team made in 2017.”

Theresa May could deal with the issue before she leaves office Gordon Brown has claimed

 

In his article, he attacks the impending “scandal” as a “clear breach of promise – a manifesto broken, a pledge discarded, by a sleight of hand where, worst of all, the Government is denying responsibility for a decision that they promised would not be made”.

BBC Director-General Lord Tony Hall blamed Tory austerity for the controversial curb when he gave evidence to a House of Lords committee last month.

MPs will investigate the move, hauling witnesses before the Commons Culture Committee on July 17.

The Mirror is campaigning to save free licences, with more than 18,000 readers backing the fight by completing coupons in the paper.

Royle Family actor Ricky Tomlinson has supported the battle.

Nearly 589,000 people have signed Age UK’s Switched Off petition calling for the licences to be preserved and the Government to take back responsibility.

Mr Brown, who introduced free TV licences as Chancellor in 2000, says: “Tragically, the Conservative Government has already lit the fire and fanned the flames of the burning injustice of poverty and are now behaving more like arsonists than firefighters.

“But there are some changes that Mrs May can make before she departs those steps of Downing Street.

“She can honour the promise she made that every pensioner would continue to enjoy free licences for the whole duration of this Parliament.

Ricky Tomlinson protests outside BBC Media City

 

“In her 2017 Conservative election manifesto Mrs May promised to maintain the universal benefit.

“But despite the promise, her Government continued to implement the devious strategy masterminded by the previous Chancellor George Osborne.”

In a separate letter to the PM, Mr Brown also included his submission to the BBC’s 12-week consultation, which eventually led to the decision to curb the benefit.

In it, he said: “The reason for the free licence was that, as help was expanded for the poor and near poor, there was a desire to complement this with an improvement in universal provision – to recognise the contribution all elderly citizens had made to our community, having served our country all their lives – many in war – there was a desire to ensure for all dignity in retirement.”

Mrs May previously claimed she was “very disappointed” at what she insisted was the Beeb’s decision to curb the benefit.

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