Second World War sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn 'very upset' about decision to axe free TV licences

Free TV licences for over-75s are set to be scrapped next year.
Free TV licences for over-75s are set to be scrapped next year.

Second World War singer Dame Vera Lynn has weighed into the controversial move to axe free TV licences for older people, saying that she "cannot understand" the decision.

She is the latest famous face to criticise the change in policy, which will mean over-75s no longer getting a TV licence for free from next June. In a bid to save money, the BBC announced free licences would be means-tested.

The corporation said it could not afford to take on the £745m financial burden from the Government, after ministers moved responsibility for funding the scheme to the BBC.

She said: “I can’t understand and am very upset as to why the Government and the BBC want to deprive older people of what is going on in the outside world, when they most need communication."

The forces’ sweetheart, 102, told the Daily Express anything that helped older people to “keep in touch outside their own home” was very important.

She added: “They may not be able to go out and see what is going on and television helps keep their minds active.”

Dame Vera, who gave outdoor concerts for WW2 troops and is known for the songs We’ll Meet Again and The White Cliffs of Dover, called for the funding decision to be overturned, adding that “so many” older people could struggle to afford the payment.

The BBC said: “It was the Government who decided to stop funding free TV licences for all over-75s, and Parliament gave the BBC the clear responsibility to decide and consult on the future policy.

“If the BBC were to fund free licences for all over-75s it would mean unprecedented closures of services and make the BBC substantially worse for all audiences, so we chose the fairest option by helping the poorest older pensioners.”