Thousands of pensioners are set to receive letters from the BBC within the next few weeks demanding they pay their licence fee.
Free TV licences for those over the age of seventy-five were first introduced by Gordon Brown in 1999 when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer.
The Labour government covered the cost of the licences but in 2015, George Osborne overhauled the arrangement and agreed with the BBC that it would have to take on the financial burden from 2020.
Of course, the broadcasting giant hastily announced that they wouldn’t be covering these costs, and therefore the free licence fee would have to come to an end.
The free licence was initially set to end for the age group last August but a free grace period was introduced during the pandemic – the date has since been pushed back to July 31st, 2021.
A BBC spokesperson said: “As we have now reached a situation where over-75s households are in line with the general population, the extended transition period we put in place due to Covid-19 will end on 31 July 2021.”
The BBC recently revealed that 3.6 million people from the age group have paid for their TV licence – however, around 260,000 are yet to do so.
Because of this, the BBC has said it will provide ‘customer care visits for those who require further assistance’ after the deadline.
The cost of a TV licence increased in April to £159 per year, working out at around 43p a day – anyone who watches or records live TV programmes on any channel, or downloads or watches BBC programmes on BBC iPlayer, is expected to have a valid TV licence.
For more information, visit the official website here.
Wetherspoons to close pubs across UK with CEO blaming ‘people drinking at home’
CEO Tim Martin has said the closures are down to people opting to ‘drink at home’.
Wetherspoons has announced a number of closures of its low budget pubs across the UK and is looking to sell more off.
Low-cost pub chain JD Wetherspoon, owned by Tim Martin, has announced plans to close 11 of its pubs due to spiralling costs and are putting 35 more up for sale. The moves comes after the high street chain suffered a huge £30m loss and has described the plans as a ‘commercial decision’.
Chairman Mr Martin has said the closures are down to people opting to ‘drink at home’, especially after the Covid lockdowns.
The hospitality chain said like-for-like sales surged by nearly 18% over the last three months of 2022, when compared with the same period in 2021. However, sales still remained 2% lower than the equivalent pre-pandemic period in 2019.
Mr Martin, told the PA News Agency: “The aftermath of the pandemic and lockdown restrictions have been far more difficult than anyone thought.
“That is the picture for the whole pub and restaurant industry. People thought that after lockdown there would be a boom in people suffering from cabin fever but, instead, it has almost been the opposite situation as people have got in the habit of staying in.
“That’s the big thing that means sales are down on 2019. Things are improving now but it’s slow.”
Is your Wetherspoons local at risk of closure? Here’s the full list of pubs which have been sold and are up for sale.
Pubs which have been sold:
- Harvest Moon, Orpington
- Alexander Bain, Wick
- Chapel an Gansblydhen, Bodmin
- Moon on the Square, Basildon
- Coal Orchard, Taunton
- Running Horse, Airside Doncaster Airport
- Wild Rose, Bootle
- Edmund Halley, Lee Green
- The Willow Grove, Southport
- Postal Order, Worcester
- North and South Wales Bank, Wrexham
Pubs still up for sale:
- The Butlers Bell, Stafford
- Worlds Inn, Romford
- Silkstone Inn, Barnsley
- Wrong ‘Un, Bexleyheath
- The Percy Shaw, Halifax
- Jolly Sailor, Hanham
- The Alfred Herring, Palmers Green
- The Moon & Bell, Loughborough
- The Widow Frost, Mansfield
- Resolution, Middlesbrough
- Foxley Hatch, Purley
- The Rising Sun, Redditch
- Sennockian, Sevenoaks
- Admiral Sir Lucius Curtis, Southampton
- The Colombia Press, Watford
- The Malthouse, Willenhall
- The John Masefield, New Ferry
- The Crosse Keys, Peebles
- Lord Arthur Lee, Fareham
- The Saltoun Inn, Fraserburgh
- General Sir Redvers Buller, Crediton
- Plough & Harrow, Hammersmith
- Thomas Leaper, Derby
- Cliftonville, Hove
- Tollgate, Turnpike Lane
- Asparagus, Battersea
- Millers Well, East Ham
- Hudson Bay, Forest Gate
- Angel, Islington
- The Billiard Hall, West Bromwich
- Capitol, Forest Hill
- The Bankers Draft, Eltham
- Moon on the Hill, Harrow
- The Bank House, Cheltenham
- Last Post, Loughton
Son of woman who died of hypothermia because she ‘couldn’t afford heating’ speaks out
He assured his mother not to worry about the bills and that he would help her to pay them.
The son of a woman who died of hypothermia after saying that she couldn’t afford to put her heating on has spoken about his tragic loss.
Mark Bolton, 61, assured his mother not to worry about the bills and that he would help her to pay them, but she had refused his offer. Barbara Bolton, 87, told her relatives that she felt cold when they visited her home on Dawson Street, in Bury.
She was rushed to Fairfield general Hospital where she was diagnosed with hypothermia and also had a chest infection. Despite the efforts of doctors and medical staff around her, Barbara’s condition deteriorated and sadly, she passed away on January 5th, just a number of weeks after she was admitted.
Mark said he spoke to his mum every night and that she worried about her heating bills, despite his assurances he would cover the costs, telling The Mirror: “She was concerned about all her bills because she was a pensioner.
“She was careful, she was mindful of the prices and worried about them going up. But she was very stubborn and proud about paying her own way.”
Barbara was found sitting in her kitchen by one of her grandchildren when they went round because they couldn’t get hold of her, when she said that she ‘felt cold’.
Police coroner’s officer, Jane Scullion, told the hearing: “Barbara was admitted to hospital on December 11th 2022, with hypothermia, and a chest infection.
“During that time she continued to deteriorate. After a discussion, she was placed on end-of-life care and passed away.”
Assistant coroner for Manchester North, Julie Mitchel, adjourned the inquest and requested statements from her doctor, and also asked for a medical cause of death to be provided.
She said: “Her death was particularly accelerated by hypothermia and there is a possibility of self-neglect due to the lack of heating so her death has been referred to the coroner.”
Barbara’s neighbours said they were ‘shocked’ and ‘saddened’ upon the news of her death, and said she had lived there for several decades.
One man said: “I think Barbara must have lived here about 50 years. I know that she was working at the chemist in Tesco until fairly recently. It’s so sad.”
And a woman said: “I hadn’t seen her in a few weeks. It’s so sad. She was a really nice woman and lived here for years but more recently kept herself to herself.”
A full inquest, which will explore the circumstances which led to Barbara’s death, will take place at Rochdale Coroners’ Court later this year.
Police issue warning to anyone heading to the Trafford Centre this weekend
Police have a warning for visitors of the Trafford Centre travelling by car.
Police say they have noticed an increase in the number of vehicles being stolen, particularly from the Trafford Centre.
Thieves are using signal jammers and scanning devices to steal customer’s cars using the Trafford Centre car park. Among the cars being targeted are Land Rovers and Ford Fiestas in a spate of shopping centre motor thefts around the Trafford area.
Officers have already made 11 arrests since January 10th this year, with one car being recovered. As they launch ‘Operation Lexford’ — which aims to robustly tackle vehicle theft in the area — Greater Manchester Police are issuing a warning to car owners.
GMP have been working in partnership with the Trafford Centre security team and together they have now set up ‘Operation Lexford’ to prevent crime and target those who are coming to Trafford to steal specific types of vehicles.
Chief Inspector Shoheb Chowdhury of GMP’s Trafford District, said: “This operation is an excellent example of GMP’s commitment to tackling vehicle crime across Greater Manchester.
“A lot of the work GMP does to tackle the issue may not be visible but catching those responsible remains a force priority. Cars are of great value to people and we understand that having a car stolen can have a huge impact both financially and emotionally.”
Reassuring the vehicle owners using car parks in Trafford, he added: “As part of the operation, there will be an increased police presence at the Trafford Centre and we will be holding weekly police surgeries with focus on providing people with tailored crime prevention advice.
“We will continue to work to bring offenders to justice, but I would ask the public to help us to help them, by being vigilant when visiting the Trafford Centre, and to follow our simple crime prevention advice found on the crime prevention page on our website.”
A spokesperson from Trafford Centre also said: “Our security and customer services teams take car theft very seriously and we are working closely with Greater Manchester Police on this issue. We minimise car theft on-site through the use of ANPR, CCTV and camera patrols so all vehicles entering and leaving the car parks are monitored and logged.
“This data and footage is made available to GMP as required. We also deploy high profile patrols in all car parks to deter thieves and run multiple police operations on-site to apprehend offenders.”
GMP officers have also issued some advice for vehicle owners to help them in preventing the thefts including: double checking your car is locked, investing in a faraday bag, not leaving your belongings on display, investing in a tracking device and using a steering wheel lock.