IAN Austin MP has called for the government to do all it can to save free TV licences for the over-75's, while the future of the fee is deliberated by BBC bosses.

The government devolved responsibility for the free TV licence policy and its cost to the BBC last year. In the 2017 general election manifesto, the Conservatives promised to protect free TV licences until 2022.

The corporation is currently deciding what to with the benefit from 2020 and is are currently consulting on a number of options including scrapping the free TV licence concession altogether, raising the eligible age to 80 and means testing it.

Mr Austin said: “The Tory Government knew what it was doing when it forced the cost of paying for free licences for over 75s out to the BBC.

“I am opposed to any proposals which would see older people losing out. It will be a terrible blow to people who already struggle to make ends meet and particularly to those who are housebound or isolated and rely on their TV for company.

“The Tory Government needs to come clean and to tell us urgently what they are going to do to ensure free TV licences aren’t cut and they don’t break their manifesto promise. If they do nothing, responsibility for older people losing their TV licences will rest firmly at their feet.”

Mr Austin is backing the Age UK campaign to keep the TV licence free for the over-75s. The organisation argues that free TV licences for older people benefit those who suffer from social isolation and loneliness.

Almost 6,000 older people in the Dudley North constituency are at risk of losing their free TV licences, according to figures from the MP.