The BBC is chasing Pensioners

Like the NHS, the BBC gets income from the public, and can ignore wishes of those who provide its income.

Cartoon Race Fan Watching Tv #4782 by Ron LeishmanSo when Silver Voices sent me information about their campaign Gum Up the Works, designed to make the BBC ashamed of making over 75s pay for their Licence, I thought their way of campaigning provided a laugh, as well as putting over what the general public felt about the broadcaster’s Scrooge-like attitude.

And the way the campaign it is handled might spark ideas on new ways to make the NHS sit up and take note of what patients actually want – and need. So here for a fun read, that might provide ‘food for thought’ is …..

                   Gum up the works campaign

The BBC wants to save money, so instead of cutting down on the massive Outside Broadcast crews, Presenters’ salaries, etc. it has decided to get rid of the free Licence for over-75s.  Silver Voices has been set up to counter this, started a ‘Gum Up the Works’ campaign, and say ideas have been flowing in from members on creative ways to supplement their basic action plan

Some of their ideas might spark off other campaigners;  some give us laugh, but all emphasise that the general public are not happy. If you are involved campaigning to improve the NHS, Gum Up The Works (GUTW) might give some ideas how to use humour to get points across. Incidentally, Capita – (a.k.a. Crapita) are being paid £38 million by the BBC for handling the licence fees; their name is synonymous for hounding pensioners who previously had just reached 75, so were entitled to a free licence, except Crapita wouldn’t accept this.

Ideas so far – which might set you thinking creatively! and if you are in the relevant age bracket could help if you are indignant at paying for inflated BBC salaries  : –

  • Members have drawn attention to pressing personal circumstances (such as relatives living with dementia), which should warrant humanitarian exemptions. We suggest you appeal for an exemption in such circumstances and let the Silver Voices office have a copy of the BBC response
  • Member Alec suggests that the license fee is paid with 12 postdated cheques (one for each month). This will probably be refused by TV Licensing but should result in an exchange of correspondence. It can be argued that it is age discriminatory to allow monthly direct debit payments, but not with cheques
  • Member Ray suggests that cheques are folded in four as this complicates automatic scanning
  • Members Trevor, Jeffrey and others suggest purchasing a black and white license for £53 (particularly if there is an old black and white tv in the loft) and letting TV Licensing prove that you are receiving colour signals
  • For the over 75s, member Paul points out the BBC have said they need do nothing until they have received a letter from TV Licensing. Because most post is junk mail or scams, Paul suggests that no letter is deemed to have arrived unless it comes by registered post
  • Large numbers of members have suggested forgetting to put a stamp on the letter, but we could not possibly advocate that!
  • e) and seems to be offering some older people free licences even though no proof of pension credit has been submitted. Chaos reigns and we are keeping up a high public profile for the campaign.

    With the meeting in mind we must keep tightening the screw on TV Licensing. The basic guidelines are available on the website:  Here are a couple of new suggestions from members:

    • New Silver Voice Michael suggests writing cheques out to BBC TV Licence Payments rather than TV Licensing to complicate internal transfers; and to make sure cheques are stapled several times to letters to foil automatic readers
    • Colyn has asked a Cornish language expert to provide the translation for Pay TV Licensing in Cornish, it is: Tylewgh Kummyuasow Pellwolok ! A little humour to lighten a serious subject
  • Member John has drawn our attention to a 2014 case in which a householder invoiced TV Licensing for £40 as a processing fee for dealing with their TV Licence. When the BBC did not pay, the householder took the claim to the County Court and won the case (receiving both the fee and legal costs). Options here if you have the time!

N.B. The innovative nature of Silver Voices legal campaign of civil disobedience has captured the imagination of thousands, putting strong political pressure on the Government and BBC to find a solution. 

So, for anyone taking on the might of the NHS, it might be helpful to think creatively.


I am mulling over how to convince the NHS they are wasting mine, and GP’s time, with so many paper procedures

  • Why do we have to go back to our GP for another referral, if it is over two years since we saw a certain Consultant, if we need to repeat treatment?
  • As the NHS IT system is not performing well, it makes sense to check up that a Consultant has copies of reports, X-rays etc. to hand before an appointment.  But if a patient tries to confirm that these have been sent to a Consultant, why ask for complicated paperwork and forms to fill in?  Why not send directly from medical records to the Consultant’s inbox?


Silver Voices’ campaign has taken the Government and BBC by surprise. Following widespread coverage in the national media, many thousands have viewed the ‘gum up the works’ action plan on the website . Hundreds of new members have joined Silver Voices in the last few days to actively support the campaign and up to 100,000 older people have viewed recent posts on Facebook and other social media about the campaign.

Dennis Reed, Director of Silver Voices, said:  “Our innovative campaign has captured the imagination of tens of thousands of older people, more than enough already to put the Government and BBC under strong political pressure to find a solution. The BBC’s clumsy response to our campaign by recruiting 800 enforcers to harass the over 75s, has increased anger amongst the older generation. The cost of these enforcers at £38 million is equivalent to a quarter of a million free licenses! In any case, the enforcers will have no impact on our campaign, as all over 60s are involved and we are not advocating non-payment, merely delaying and complicating payments.”



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