THE BBC has been urged to delay the start date for charging over-75s for TV licences to help the elderly through months of self-isolation.
Everyone over the age of 75 will have to start paying the annual £157.50 licence fee.
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But Age UK demanded the Beeb delay the move until the end of the year.
Their urgent plea came after ministers said all over-70s will be ordered to self-isolate for up to four months.
Age UK said the elderly will be “even more reliant” on their TV and radio for entertainment during this “unprecedented situation” when they will be consigned to their homes, with family and friends unable to visit.
And they will also need to stay informed about developments in the coronavirus outbreak, with many elderly people not online like the rest of the country.
In a statement issued the charity implored the BBC to show empathy towards the over-75s by delaying the introduction of the fee.
They also called on the Government to meet the BBC urgently if the broadcaster refuses to unilaterally delay the scrapping of the licence fee.
Age UK said in a statement: “During this national crisis they will want to see and hear what our political and NHS leaders are saying to the country about winning the war against Coronavirus, which poses such a direct threat to them and their friends.
“They will want news, reassurance and reasons to be cheerful, and the TV will be key if they are to get this precious input from the outside world.
“Some older people have told us that for them, their TV is so much more than ‘the box in the corner’, it is their trusted companion and window on the world; this will be true like never before for millions during these challenging weeks and months to come and it is why we believe it is profoundly wrong to allow anything to get in the way of an over-75 year old continuing to be able to watch TV over this period.
“Age UK wants the Government and the BBC to meet urgently and agree that the BBC’s replacement scheme for the over-75s is halted immediately
and stopped until the end of 2020, with the current universal entitlement staying in place until then.”