Warrington South MP Faisal Rashid has taken up the fight for the over 75s who may soon have to start paying for their TV licence.

The BBC has launched a public consultation on what, if any, TV licence fee concession should be in place for older people from June 2020.

At the moment, all households with people aged over 75 are entitled to receive a free TV licence.

That concession costs the BBC £745 million a year and is due to finish in June 2020. But now the corporation says it may have to cut services unless over 75s start stumping up the cash for their licence.

The BBC has launched a consultation with a number of proposals to compensate for the loss of government funding.

The broadcaster has warned that if the free licence scheme is renewed, it would amount to around a fifth of its budget – the equivalent to what it spends on BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC Four, the BBC News Channel, CBBC and CBeebies.

Free TV licences for the over 75s were introduced by the Labour Chancellor Gordon Brown in 2001 but in 2015 the government said it would no longer subsidise the cost of the licence fee and the BBC would have to find the funding itself.

Mr Rashid said: "According to Age UK, nearly a third of over 75s are living in poverty or just above the poverty line.

"If the free over 75s TV licence is scrapped, finding the money needed to pay for this additional bill will be impossible for those struggling to make ends meet.

"I am urging constituents to take part in the consultation and to make their views known. The consultation is running until February 12.

If the subsidy continues, it would mean over 75s would not have to pay, as at present but the corporation says it would 'fundamentally change' the BBC because of the scale of service cuts it would need to make.

According to the moneywise.co.uk website, one option would be to reinstate the fee for those over 75, but this would particularly hit poorer pensioners and mean they could be prosecuted for failing to pay.

Other proposals include raising the age of a free licence from 75 to 80 or introducing means testing so that only those that can afford it actually pay.

Alternatively, a discount of 50 per cent could be offered for older people, although the BBC says this would still mean a shortfall in funding.

On the face of it Mr Rashid's concern is understandable but it's not that straightforward.

The report by Frontier Economics, commissioned by the BBC, has shown that the cost to the BBC in lost revenue would rise to £1 billion by 2029/30 due to the UK’s ageing population.

The report notes that older generations have 'seen a marked improvement in their absolute and relative living standards' since the licence fee concession for over 75s was introduced.

The report adds: “Incomes, wealth and life expectancy of older people have improved significantly, pensioner poverty rates have fallen, and older households report higher well-being on a range of metrics.”

And that's the problem with one-size-fits-all benefits.

On the face of it, removing the free licence seems harsh, but the BBC doesn't have a magic money tree at the bottom of the garden and faces having to cut back significantly.

Do we all have to lose channels so this benefit can be maintained or is there another solution?

I am uncomfortable with the concept of subsidising people who can well afford to pay but as Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “There are two million people aged 75-plus, one in two of whom is disabled and one in four of whom view the television as their main form of companionship.

"For many others, including those who are chronically lonely the TV is a precious window on the world.”

Perhaps in the end, means testing is the only viable solution.