Letters: Osborne opens attack on a supine BBC

These letters appear in the 9th July issue of The Independent

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George Osborne has come up with a really smart idea to court popularity and save the Government money at the same time. It’s called “Pick a perk and make the provider pay”. The Government invents a perk, then sloughs off the cost on to the provider, who didn’t have any say in the making of the policy.

He is starting with making the BBC pay the cost of free TV licences for the over-75s. Next up, no doubt, the power companies will fund the winter fuel payment, and the bus companies will pay for free bus passes. How long before Santa Claus gets billed for the pensioners’ Christmas bonus?

Conrad Cork


The demand that the BBC must pay for free access to its services for over-75s a very dangerous precedent. The policy to provide free access to BBC programming is a political choice, not a commercial one. If the Government is not prepared to pay for its policies, it should simply abandon them, not expect the service providers to take over the obligation.

Pete Rowberry

Saxmundham, Suffolk

The BBC has had its independence seriously undermined with the latest settlement with the Government, becoming an offshoot of the Department for Work and Pensions.

As a licence-fee payer I expect the money to be used in the making and transmission of programmes, not to fund social payments or reduce the deficit.

This is the second time in five years that an ill-considered settlement has been inflicted, with supine management from the BBC. How can it be in the interest of licence-fee payers to fund free licences for the over-75s with an almost certain reduction of services? When the BBC has full responsibility for these payments it can drop the whole arrangement if the management has more guts than the present one.

Jonathan Newcombe


I have been checking the Tory manifesto and cannot find any promise to bash the BBC. Why, then, has the Government dumped the TV licence subsidy on the Beeb? Is it surprising that when political parties obfuscate in such a manner we voters feel that we have been cheated?

A A Chabot


A better chance for young people in care

We welcome the Children’s Commissioner’s recommendation that young people should continue to be supported by the care system until the age of 25 (report, 8 July).

Prince’s Trust and National Children’s Bureau research reveals that care leavers are not receiving the support they need. While half reported having mental health issues, only a fifth said they were getting help. It is therefore no surprise that 86 per cent achieved fewer than five GCSEs and that half reported a history of offending.

Our programmes are proven to help these vulnerable young people to get their lives back on track and we know that many other organisations and social workers are doing the same. But these efforts cannot succeed until there is a consistent, comprehensive and high-quality system for every young person facing these challenging circumstances.

Anne Longfield’s proposal will ensure we are keeping these young people safe, happy and engaged for a longer period, meaning we can build a more resilient generation, equipped with skills for work and life.

Richard Chadwick

Director (Programmes and Development), The Prince’s Trust, London EC2

Every reason to bomb Isis

Caroline Cameron asks “why air strikes against Isis targets in Syria are a justified and proportionate response” to the massacre in Tunisia (letters, 6 July).

Such air strikes have been fully justified, in Syria, Iraq, and anywhere else that Isis operates, ever since this terrorist group set about stoning, beheading, torturing, burning, enslaving and crucifying large numbers of innocent people (and while deliberately destroying ancient artefacts, historical sites, churches, and power plants). That the Tunisian gunman was inspired and recruited by Isis serves  only to further justify  our military strikes  against them.

On the question of proportionality, I can’t think of any reason why our response to such a group need be “proportionate”, or even what that might look like. Our aim should be to wipe them out entirely.

Keith Gilmour


The Secretary of State for Defence, Michael Fallon, has hinted at a wish to bomb Islamic militants in Syria. But will the latest chapter in the long history of RAF bombing of this group achieve anything positive?

We are approaching a centenary of bombing bad Islamic people, which started during the First World War when the native population of Waziristan (Pakistan), were on the receiving end. This tactic proved so successful for us that it was continued in the 1920s and 1930s in Somaliland, then Mesopotamia (now Iraq).

With only a break for the Second World War, when we bombed Christian Germans, through the 1960s and into the 1970s we were bombing mainly Muslims in the Suez Canal Zone, then in Aden, which brought us to the recent bombing of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

Does anyone, other than arms manufacturers, really believe that a century of bombing has brought us any nearer to peace with those whose lands we have harried? Or is it not more likely that our past and present actions, with their inevitable collateral damage (that anodyne euphemism for killing and maiming innocent civilians), will only lead to retaliation in equally barbarous ways?

Tom Minogue

Dunfermline, Fife

Dazzled by Kids Company

It is widely held that Kids Company does good work with troubled kids (“Kids Company chief quits after threat to withhold government funds”,  4 July). What is problematic, however, is that central government and so many charitable funders seem to have been dazzled by its colourful image into thinking that throwing millions at it was a quick fix for the problems facing London’s young.

Our small adventure playground, London’s oldest, has an active register of more than 800 children. We keep them creative and busy every evening after school and every day during the holidays. Supporting our small and dedicated professional staff, our management team, all volunteers, achieve this for less than £80,000 a year.

Yet following repeated government raids on the Lottery and the draconian cuts now forced on local government we are now facing the threat of imminent closure, the end of nearly 60 years of community service.

Many working in the voluntary and community sector have long felt that some of the vast funds that have been poured into Kids Company might have been better spent.

We keep London’s kids out of trouble day by day. Surely prevention is better, and hugely cheaper,  than cure?

Jim Clancey

Chair: Triangle Adventure Playground Association

London SE19

In her piece on 6 July (“UK charities are under threat from this government”), Yasmin Alibhai-Brown claims that “all Muslim charities are being tested and scrutinised” by the Charity Commission. This is factually incorrect and highly misleading.

It is emphatically not the case that the Commission targets or disproportionately targets charities with links to Muslim communities. Our criteria for opening an investigation are impartial and have nothing to do with whether a charity is established for a religious purpose or not, or whether its work supports a particular community  or group.

We analyse data on charities that become subject to statutory inquiries or compliance cases; the result of that analysis for 2013-14  provided additional assurance that there appear to be no areas of significant over- or under-representation in the charities into which inquiries or compliance cases are opened. We report on the outcome of our analysis and will continue to do so.

Sarah Atkinson

Director of Policy and Communications, Charity Commission, London SW1

Tories show their colours

What a surprise! The first thing the Tory government has done is to cut the tax credits of the working poor, and the second thing they are going to do is cut the inheritance tax of millionaires. A clear statement of intent: for the next five years the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer.

D Sawtell

Tydd St Giles, Cambridgeshire

Football without the spitting

The Women’s World Cup has proved that the constant spitting by male footballers is an unnecessary habit. I wonder if the men spit on their carpets at home?

Brian Rushton

Stourport-on-Severn, Worcestershire