MP Yvette Cooper says pressure must be kept up on government over TV licences

There has been anger over the plans to scrap free TV licences for the over 75s.
There has been anger over the plans to scrap free TV licences for the over 75s.

The plan to scrap free TV licenses for over 75s is outrageous. I’m calling on Government ministers to step in urgently and keep TV licences for older pensioners free, writes YVETTE COOPER.

For people living alone, the TV can be a lifeline and many pensioners won’t be able to afford the £150 a year cost. Almost 5,000 pensioners in our area will be hit and loads of people have now signed our local petition against the plan.

Tory austerity is hitting pensioners in our area hard and it isn’t fair. The two contenders for the next Conservative Prime Minister are both proposing massive tax cuts. Boris Johnson has been boasting about defending bankers and wants to give people earning £100,000 a year a massive £3,000 tax cut. And Jeremy Hunt wants to spend billions of pounds cutting corporation tax for big business and their backers. Yet neither of them are prepared to keep TV licences free for low income pensioners. It’s appalling.

It’s no good the Government blaming the BBC. This plan is a direct result of the new TV licence deal that the Tories drew up and we warned them repeatedly that it would happen. That’s why they urgently need to step in and stop it happening. Free TV licences were brought in by the last Labour Government to go alongside the winter fuel allowance and free bus passes. What will be next under Tory austerity?

Coming on top of their refusal to help WASPI women and their insistence on taking more money out of the mineworkers pension scheme, I think this shows a huge lack of Government respect for pensioners round here. We need to keep the pressure up now to overturn this unfair plan.

The Government is currently paralysed while we wait for the Conservative party to choose the next Prime Minister. But our towns are paying the price. More children are going hungry, people are waiting longer for GP appointments, we badly need more police on the streets and more services are being closed. This week I’ve finally secured a meeting with the Health Secretary about the planned closure of Pontefract Mid Wife Led Maternity Unit and I shall be demanding he listens to local mums and keeps this vital service open.

Nothing is being sorted out on Brexit either. The Government needs to put forward a Brexit deal which puts manufacturing first as it is the backbone of our economy. I voted in Parliament for a Brexit deal with a customs union plan that would have supported manufacturing and workers rights. But I voted against a chaotic No Deal as Yorkshire manufacturers like Burberry, Haribo and the glass industry have all told me that would mean British factories being unfairly hit by tariffs and delays and put at a disadvantage compared to factories overseas. In the Five Towns alone there are 15,000 jobs in manufacturing so to me, standing up for British manufacturing is common sense.

It’s also time the Government listened to the brilliant Power up the North campaign backed by the Pontefract and Castleford Express, the Wakefield Express and newspapers across the North of England. We have fantastic towns and cities across Yorkshire and the north, but we aren’t getting our fair share of investment, services and jobs.

Whoever the new Prime Minister is, we need more power and decisions being made back here in Yorkshire and not in Number 10 Downing Street.