CHANGES to the TV licence that would require people over the age of 75 pay for BBC television as of June have been delayed by two months due to the escalating coronavirus crisis.
The move, jointly announced by the UK Government and the BBC on Monday, has been welcomed by isles MP Alistair Carmichael.
Recognising the exceptional circumstances, the BBC board decided to delay the start date of the new policy until 1 August, the national broadcaster said, adding that it would review the decision as the situation continues to evolve.
Carmichael said that in exceptional circumstances “we all need to think about how we can help society as a whole”.
He added: “It has been suggested that people over 70 are going to be required to stay at home during the height of the coronavirus outbreak.
“We know that older people are more likely to suffer from loneliness and virus isolation is likely to increase this issue. If this is the case then it is only right that we ensure that they have access to TV programming as a way to mitigate loneliness.”
Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said: “It will be welcome news to millions of older people who now don’t need to worry about their TV licence during this challenging period.
“It is right that the BBC have recognised the exceptional circumstances posed by the coronavirus outbreak and the need for the whole country to pull together in the national effort.”
Carmichael added that he has been heartened to see the emergence of many local community support groups.
“We are fortunate in the Northern Isles to have strong social networks,” he said.
“I would encourage everyone to help out in whatever way they can, in order to protect the most vulnerable people in our communities.”
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