Axing free TV licences: the spark to unite pensioners, youth and workers to kick the Tories out!

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THE Tory government has now launched war on the elderly, the youth and the working class simultaneously!

There is a war on the youth, with Chancellor Sunak’s new £2bn ‘kickstart scheme’ to subsidise just six-month work placements for youth on Universal Credit aged between 16 and 24.

For each ‘kickstarter’ job, the government will cover the cost of 25 hours’ work a week at the National Minimum Wage – £4.55 for under-18s, £6.45 for 18- to 20-year-olds, and £8.20 for 21- to 24-year-olds.

Meanwhile, to give bosses time to organise the ‘kickstarters’, employers will be paid a £1,000 bonus by Sunak to keep workers who were furloughing in their jobs until January 2021 on their established terms and conditions.

The scheme will cost as much as £9bn if every furloughed worker is covered. The rewards for this will be the ability of the bosses to sack these expensive workers in January, and then bring in different groups of ‘kickstarters’ as cheap labour, to be replaced every six months by a new batch.

This is how they will bring in a cheap labour economy with trade union terms and conditions a thing of the past!

Meanwhile, the assault on pensioners has just begun with the BBC’s axing of the free TV licence for the over-75s not on pension credit. The GMB confirmed that the withdrawal of TV licences would leave up to 3.7 million pensioners worse off.

John Phillips, GMB Acting General Secretary, said: ‘Scrapping TV licences for over-75s is both cruel and unnecessary. It’s ministers who have pulled the plug on older people and are now seeking to shift the blame onto the BBC. The Conservatives must stop trying to pass the buck – they have double-crossed millions of pensioners with their broken promises.’

Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Culture, did exactly that – shifting the blame. He said: ‘I very much regret the decision that the BBC has taken. We gave the settlement to the BBC back in 2015. They said that it was a good settlement and I regret they could not find efficiency savings in order to avoid having to impose the licence fee on the over-75s.’

Since April 2020, the annual cost for a colour TV licence is £157.50. Since the beginning of the millennium, central government covered the cost of the free TV licence for the over-75s.

However, following the ‘settlement’ between the Tories and the BBC made in 2015, government funding has been phased out. Since April 2020, the BBC has not received a penny of funding from the government for this scheme.

The government has washed its hands of the elderly. This is more than a dereliction of duty. They have moved to actively attack older people.

During the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, elderly people were booted out of hospital beds to make way for younger patients. They were sent to the care homes, where they unwittingly infected scores of others. In some cases, over twenty people died in a single care home – saving the government a fortune in pensions and sick pay!

But the war on the elderly has only just begun. The real prize, as far as the government is concerned, the ultimate ‘spoils of war’, is the ‘Triple Lock’ pension.

The Tories have been trying to break the Triple Lock for the last decade. The way that the ‘Triple Lock’ pension works is that the state pension is increased by the same rate as inflation, wage growth or 2.5%, whichever is highest.

This was to ensure that the extremely meagre amount that pensioners receive did not become worthless in the face of inflation. With inflation set to rocket, abolishing the ‘Triple Lock’ will save the Tories and the bosses billions, and condemn pensioners to extreme poverty.

The elderly are furious. Abandoned during the worst of the pandemic, stripped of their free TV licence, now their Triple Lock pensions face a massive attack.

The trade unions, the youth and pensioners must now unite. They face the same enemy: the bankrupt Tories and their bankrupt capitalist system.

Councils of Action must be set up at once to unite all three sections for a general strike and mass actions to bring down the Tory government and bring in a workers government and a socialist society. Its maxim will be ‘From each according to their ability, to each according to their need!’