A CAMPAIGNING pensioner has branded a TV licence rise only months after over-75s were forced to pay as 'an insult to injury'.

Ivy Siegfried, 83, says it is particularly disgraceful that the fee has gone up during a time when many OAPs have been forced to stay indoors with only a TV for company.

Ivy's outspoken opposition in the Tele last year over the paid-for licence led to her appearing on ITV's This Morning show.

She said the latest move to increase the fee to £159 - only nine months after the free fee was abolished - was a 'huge slap in the face'.

Ivy said: "It's an insult to injury.

"So many senior citizens people have died because of Covid, think of what the government is saving in paying out pensions and then they are charging us for a licence fee and increasing it.

"It's disrespectful to everyone who has died."

Ivy says older people have suffered more than most during lockdown and even the comfort of a cost-free television service has now been taken away from them.

She said: "We were told to stay indoors.

"A lot of pensioners would use their free bus pass and go round the shops, maybe meet a friend and go in for a cup of tea and come back home late in the afternoon.

"They weren't putting their heating on and were saving money.

"During lockdown they had to use gas and electricity - and now watching TV is costing them money too.

"After everything we've been put through in lockdown to do this to us is terrible.

Ivy said last year she would refuse to pay the fee and was willing to go to go to prison on a point of principle.

She has kept to her word, ripping up two reminders and throwing them in the bin.

She said: "Until I take my last breath I will not pay it.

"People are frightened they will get the sheriff officers coming to their door.

"No-one's been to mine.

"My family wanted to pay mine but I told them they are not paying it for me."

The licence remains free to people aged over 75 who are in receipt of Pension Credit.

But Ivy says this ruling discriminates against pensioners who have worked all their lives and saved diligently for their old age.

She said: "I've been working since I was 15 and I'm still paying tax."

Inverclyde MP Ronnie Cowan says that an additional problem is that many people who are entitled to Pension Credit are not applying for it and missing out.

In 2018/2019, almost 40 per cent of entitled pensioners aged over 75 did not claim PC - meaning they could have lost out of £1,700 a year and a free TV licence.

Mr Cowan said: “After seeing free TV licences scrapped for the over-75s, in the middle of a pandemic, the UK Government have hit another new low by increasing the price.

“For those in Inverclyde over 75 and not in receipt of Pension Credit, when many of them are entitled to claim, this will be another financial blow during what are challenging times.

"It’s vital we restore and retain free vital television services for older people.”