THE SNP have called for decisions on TV licences to be made independently of government, as they pledged to fight for free licences for over-75s.

The party’s General Election manifesto also includes pledges to oppose plans to raise the retirement age to 68 by 2038 and to fight to reverse Pension Credit cuts which, they say could leave older couples in Scotland £7000 worse off each year.

As part of a range of pledges for older people, the SNP argue that powers over licence fees should be stripped from the UK Government to avoid political “game-playing”.

Earlier this year, the BBC announced an end to free licences for over-75s which affected more than 3 million households.

The move followed a 2015 deal between the broadcaster and the then-Conservative government which meant the BBC would shoulder the financial burden for the free TV licences.

The SNP now want an independent body to rule about who should pay for the licence fee, and how much it should cost.

Accusing the Tories of having “taken older people for granted for too long”, SNP candidate for Argyll and Bute, Brendan O’Hara, said: “Many pensioners are struggling with the added pressure Brexit is putting on the cost of living – which is why we need to escape Brexit and give pensioners a better deal.

“SNP MPs will fight to restore the free TV licence for older people. But more broadly, we need to stop future governments from similar game-playing and have the licence fee set independently of government.”

As well as pushing to reverse cuts to Pension Credit and “securing justice” for women who lost out due to increases in the pension age, the SNP have also backed a free national service to help people switch to cheaper gas and electricity suppliers and tariffs.

The switching service would be run alongside an Ofgem-held database recording people who had not switched to target them with information about how to get a cheaper deal, in addition to a service for people living in communal accommodation to help with collective switching of supplier.

SNP candidate for North Ayrshire and Arran Patricia Gibson said: “Energy bills are some of the biggest households face and we all know that bills and tariffs can be confusing. And it is clear most households aren’t regularly shopping around for a better deal, despite potentially saving hundreds of pounds a year.

“We want that to change. Our proposal for a free switching service would make a massive difference in ensuring bill payers aren’t being ripped off.

“The SNP want to provide people with a service that works to get them the best deal. And we would bring transparency to bills and tariffs for all consumers – whether that’s a family home or a small business – and help bring down the cost of living.”