The Government proposes to charge £40 for digital switchover assistance in more than half of all eligible cases
Over 4,500 East Dunbartonshire residents will have to pay for help to switch to digital TV under Government plans, Jo Swinson has revealed.
Figures uncovered by the Liberal Democrats have revealed that 9,000 households across East Dunbartonshire are eligible for assistance with digital switchover, but more than half of them will have to pay £40 for the service.
With less than three years until full digital switchover across Scotland takes place, Jo said:
“This charge will hit pensioners and disabled people hardest. The Government is offering to help them prepare for digital switchover, but only if they are prepared to pay £40.
“Set-top boxes can cost less than £20 these days. This means that people who apply for government help – some of the most vulnerable in our communities – could actually end up worse off.
“The administrative cost of collecting these fees may even end up being more than the money they raise. The Government must think again about forcing pensioners and disabled people to pay this unfair charge.”
A recent Parliamentary answer to Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael showed that 51 per cent. of households in the Grampian and Scottish TV regions eligible for help will qualify for assistance to which there is a £40 charge.
The digital help scheme is aimed at people aged over 75 and over, people with significant disabilities and people who are registered blind or registered partially sighted. People with significant disabilities are those who receive Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance.
According to the Digital UK website there will be a “modest fee” for some households who use the Digital Help Scheme (see <<a href=”http://www.digitaltelevision.gov.uk/global/faq_home.html”>http://www.digitaltelevision.gov.uk/global/faq_home.html>). However, no information is given on the value of this fee on this site.
The Digital Switchover Help Scheme gives viewers in Scotland just nine months to register for help – 8 months before switchover, and just one month after analogue signals are switched off.