Furious pensioners will take to the streets in Irvine this Friday (July 19) to protest against the removal of free TV licences for all over-75s.

Irvine Seniors Forum is leading the protest in Bridgegate, which is being supported by Age Scotland, councillors, Disabled People Against Cuts, and other groups.

As well as collecting signatures for Age Scotland’s petition between 10.30am and 2pm, they plan to burn the letters they have received from the TV Licensing Authority.

They hope hundreds of local people will support their campaign, and are calling on groups throughout the region to join the protest.

Rosemary Byrne, Chair of Irvine Seniors Forum, said: “People are very angry. Many lonely older depend on their TV as a lifeline, and are very worried about this.

“It’s obscene when you see the amount of money the BBC is paying its presenters. These people have paid into the system all their lives. They are already making difficult choices about what they spend their money on, and now they’re going to have to find extra money they haven’t budgeted for.

“We need to keep the momentum going. I think there will be people over 75 refusing to pay this.”

Adam Stachura, Head of Policy at Age Scotland, said: “It’s good to see Irvine Seniors taking action and standing up for older people throughout the country. Older people are rightly angry about this change, and don’t feel they are being listened to by the Government and the BBC. The fact they are taking this action demonstrates the strength of feeling.

“This plan is deeply unfair and will hit the poorest pensioners hardest and fails to protect those who can least afford to pay.

“Thousands of vulnerable older people, who rely on their TV for company, will be forced to give it up, cut back on essentials to pay their bill or risk a £1,000 fine by not paying their licence fee. Means-testing simply doesn’t work - we already know that four in ten of the poorest pensioners don’t claim the Pension Credit they are entitled to.

“We are calling on the next Prime Minister to do the right thing and restore this entitlement for everyone aged 75 and over. Any older person who is worried about finances or would like a free benefits check can call our friendly helpline on 0800 12 44 222.”

From 2020, only people aged 75 and over who claim Pension Credit will be entitled to a free TV licence, after the UK Government announced that the BBC would take over responsibility for it.

More than 600,000 people have already signed a petition by Age UK, Age Scotland’s sister charity, calling for the Government to reinstate the universal entitlement.