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The BBC should "cough up" and pay for TV licences for all over-75s, the Prime Minister has said.
Labour accused the PM of blaming the broadcaster for government policy.
The decision, meaning around 3. 7 million people aged over 75 will have to pay £154. 50 for a colour TV licence from next June, sparked protests outside BBC studios.
"They should cough up. "
People aged over 75 were granted free TV licences when Labour was in power, in 2000. Maintaining it was a Conservative manifesto pledge in 2017.
However, the charter agreement hammered out with Conservative ministers in 2015 saw the BBC assume responsibility for funding The Commitment from 2020.
A BBC spokeswoman said: "It was the government which decided to stop funding free TV licences for the over-75s, and Parliament gave responsibility to the BBC to make a decision on The Future of the scheme.
"There was no guarantee That the BBC would continue to fund free licences for the over-75s. "
In the same month, the BBC insisted That cutting stars' salaries would not save enough money to pay for over-75s' licences.
Limiting the scheme to households where one person receives pension credit is expected to Cost the BBC around £250 million by 2021-22.
However, a No 10 source said BBC income had been boosted by requiring iPlayer users to have a licence and linking licence fee increases to inflation.
"At the time, the director general said it was a 'strong deal for the BBC' and provided 'financial stability'," The Source said, adding: "The BBC must honour this agreement. "'Disregard for older people'
Labour deputy leader Tom Watson called on the government to stop "passing the buck".
"This Prime Minister 's disregard for older people is appalling," he said.
"Because of this government's refusal to fund the concession, millions of older people will have their free TV licences scrapped next year. "
"This was always going to happen - the BBC was stupid to accept this as part of the licence fee [settlement] but it certainly wasn't a condition of it.
"And if the government wants over-75s to continue to receive free licences it needs to fund it. "
Some 634,334 people have, which is calling on the government to take back responsibility for funding The Free licences and honour the 2017 manifesto commitment.
"Whether the BBC is quite as skint as it is telling everybody I can't possibly say, I'm not a media commentator.
"It would be sensible for the two parties to come together and draw a line and try to stop this escalating row. "