Veterans in Flintshire will be badly hit by the loss of free TV licences for pensioners, an armed forces representative has claimed.
The BBC recently announced that from June next year, only over-75s who claim pension credit will be eligible for a free licence, meaning all others will need to pay more than £150 a year.
The move has been met with a widespread backlash as hundreds of thousands of people have backed a petition against it.
Flintshire Armed Forces Champion Andy Dunbobbin said a large number of former military personnel in the county will be left facing financial hardship as a result.
However, while some have directed their anger at the corporation directly, the Labour councillor believes the Conservative UK Government is to blame for making it fund the over-75s concession.
He said: “What often gets overlooked is that Flintshire has the most amount of veterans in all of North Wales.
“It’s going to create isolation and in Delyn alone there’s just over 3,800 households who will lose their free licence.
“The total cost to Delwyn residents will be about £570,000 a year.
“The BBC shouldn’t and hasn’t until now been responsible for deciding public welfare policy.
“It was the last Labour government who established the free TV licensing for over 75s and it was a key policy in tackling pensioner policy and ensuring we support our elderly neighbours.”
In total, the decision will affect 3.7 million pensioners across the UK.
The Department for Work and Pensions used to foot the bill for free licences, but in 2015, the then chancellor George Osborne passed the responsibility on to the BBC.
It is estimated it would cost the broadcasting body as much as £745 million in 2021 if no changes are made to the over 75s policy.
Director-General Tony Hall said it had been a difficult decision to make, but was necessary in the circumstances.
He said: “I believe we have reached the fairest judgment after weighing up all the different arguments.
“It would not be right simply to abolish all free licences.
“Equally it would not be right to maintain it in perpetuity given the very profound impact that would have on many BBC services.
“This decision is fairest for the poorest pensioners.”
He added that around 1.5 million households in receipt of Pension Credit could still get free TV licences when it becomes means tested.
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).