Speaking to TalkRADIO, the Tory frontbencher claimed Government has given the BBC a healthy settlement in 2015 to prevent the corporation from making controversial decisions on licence fees. Ms Dinenage urged the BBC to look at other efficient ways to save funds instead of scrapping free licence fees from all over-75s from August. She blasted: “We all know how we’ve experienced the shutdown, the lockdown and how difficult it has been for us all.
“For some elderly and vulnerable people up and down this country that is their life and TV can be a complete life line.
“We gave the BBC a very, very healthy settlement back in 2015.
“They agreed it was a strong and fair settlement and this is very disappointing news.”
She added: “I think they should be looking at other efficiency savings that can be made, because this is a life line for so many people.”
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden also said he feels “let down” by the BBC over its decision to end the free TV licence for over-75s.
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Speaking at the Downing Street coronavirus briefing on Thursday, he said people “up and down the country” would feel the same way about the BBC’s move to begin means-testing in August.
The new scheme was originally meant to start on June 1 but was delayed and kept under review because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The BBC has said that continuing the universal entitlement would hit “programmes and services”.
Mr Dowden said: “I very much regret the decision that the BBC has taken.
“We gave the settlement to the BBC back in 2015.
“They said that it was a good settlement, and I regret that they couldn’t find efficiency savings in order to avoid having to impose the licence fee on the over-75 in the way that they have set out.”
He added: “I feel let down that the BBC haven’t funded this.
“I’m sure people up and down the country will feel let down that they haven’t funded it.
“Our manifesto said we thought that they should fund it, I’ve made that position clear to the BBC and I’ve not changed my mind on that.”
He also confirmed a consultation into decriminalising the licence fee would see the results published in the summer.
BBC chairman Sir David Clementi said that “implementation of the new scheme will be Covid-19 safe”, adding the “BBC could not continue delaying the scheme without impacting on programmes and services”.
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Over-75s who receive the free TV licence, which costs those who pay £157.50, will have to receive pension credit.
“Critically, it is not the BBC making that judgment about poverty. It is the Government who sets and controls that measure,” Sir David said.
The BBC has been under “severe financial pressure due to the pandemic”, he added.
He went on: “I believe continuing to fund some free TV licences is the fairest decision for the public, as we will be supporting the poorest, oldest pensioners without impacting the programmes and services that all audiences love.”
Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said the Prime Minister disagreed with the move.
“This is the wrong decision.
“We recognise the value of free TV licences for over-75s and believe that they should be funded by the BBC,” the spokesman said.