OLDHAM East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams has described the scrapping of TV licences for the over 75s as "terrible cruelty".

She made the comments pointing to new figures from the House of Commons libary suggesting that 59,859 over 75s livings with dementia in the North West could lose their free TV licence next year.

Ms Abrahams said that maintaining free TV licences for the elderly had been a 2017 Conservative Party manifesto commitment.

As part of the BBC charter renewal process the Conservatives forced the BBC to take on the cost of free TV licences and therefore, as of next year, only those in receipt of Pension Credit will receive a free TV licence, meaning that 3.7 million older people will lose out across the country.

Debbie Abrahams, who is co-chair of the All-Party Group on Dementia, said: “The Tories should be hanging their head in shame at the way they are planning to strip older people of their free TV licences.

“Older people with dementia often struggle with daily tasks and their television is a comfort. It would be a terrible cruelty to take their TV licence away and force them to reapply and pay for it.

“The Government should halt this callous policy immediately and save TV licences.”

Only 19 per cent of over 75s are currently in receipt of pension credit, meaning 81 per cent of all over 75s are likely to lose their TV licence.

Ms Abrahams said free TV licences were an important benefit for older people who suffer disproportionately from loneliness and social isolation. Four in 10 older people say the television is their main source of company.

Those no longer eligible for free TV licences will need to apply and pay for a TV licence, and could be criminalised for failing to do so.