A CONSERVATIVE Powys County Councillor has attacked comments criticising the UK Government over the decision to scrap free television licences for over 75s.

Powys County Council’s Labour group leader Cllr Mathew Dorrance (Brecon, St John) and Liberal Democrat AM for Brecon and Radnor, Kirsty Williams, both criticised the cut which had been forced on the BBC by the Government.

In 2015, the Conservative Government passed the responsibility to pay for free licences for over 75s back to the BBC.

Cllr Iain McIntosh (Yscir) said: “These two local politicians should have got their facts right before trying to blame the government for ‘breaking promises.’

“The BBC agreed in 2015 to cover the cost of providing free television licences for over 75s.

Cllr McIntosh added that the Government also believed that the BBC should “show restraint” on senior staff salaries staff so that the licence fee income in used better.

Cllr McIntosh said: “Rather than aiming false opportunistic criticism at the government, why can’t these local politicians join in with the rest of us by holding the BBC to account for going back on this deal?

“If they fail to deliver what is expected of them suggest they abandon the licence fee altogether and operate in the same manner as all other TV stations?”

Cllr Dorrance said:  “At a time where pensioner poverty is rising, having a free TV licence gives older people access to the world outside of their homes and their day to day lives.

“Taking their free licence away and forcing them to fork out £154.50 per year is an act of cruelty.

“I urge everyone to support the campaign to stop this Tory cut.”

Kirsty Williams AM said that she would be speaking to BBC Wales about the decision.

Ms Williams said: “This is the breaking of a Conservative manifesto commitment and it is particularly disappointing to see them criticise the BBC for the decision .

“The change is the result in of the Westminster Government withdrawing the funding and their attempts to shirk responsibility will fool no-one.

The policy of free TV licences for the over-75s was introduced in 1999 by the then Labour chancellor, Gordon Brown, with the cost met by the government, which paid the BBC to provide the service.

In 2015, the Conservative Government decided the subsidy would be phased out by 2020, with the broadcaster having to take back the responsibility.

The BBC Board announced on Monday, June 10, that from June 2020 any household with someone aged over 75 who receives Pension Credit will be eligible for a free TV licence funded by the BBC.

Around 1.5 million households could be eligible.

The BBC Board believes this is the fairest option to help the poorest pensioners.

They also said that paying for the concession as it is was “untenable”.

This is because as it would cost £745 million a year by 2021/22 – and rise to more than one billion by the end of the next decade.