The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, Eddie Lynch said:“This is really disappointing news which will affect over 75,000 people over the age of 75 living in Northern Ireland. It’s my view that both the Government and the BBC have let down over 75s in the UK by failing to find a way to continue funding this concession, especially given the fact that they had four years to come up with a solution to mitigate cost or consider other sources of income.

“For many older people, TV is a lifeline and often a source of companionship and comfort. People over 75 are more likely to be living alone, living with a disability and have fewer opportunities to remedy the causes of isolation and loneliness. It’s becoming increasingly acknowledged the impact that loneliness has on people’s health – the effects of loneliness can be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

“As a society, we can’t keep talking about supporting our older population and then make decisions that negatively impact them. I feel disappointed today for many older people who will no doubt find this news distressing.”