Time running out for OAP digital help scheme

PENSIONERS have just a few days left to tap into a special service to help them adjust to digital TV.

Analogue TV transmissions in central Scotland were switched off in June. Officials from switchover service Digital UK say most people "responded extremely well" with the changes – retuning Freeview TV sets or buying set-top boxes to keep watching their favourite programmes.

Professional help was also on offer for people aged 75 or over through the Switchover Help Scheme. Equipment can be upgraded for a small fee or, in some cases, for free.

However, this package of support runs out in this area on July 22.

Bo’ness Labour Councillor Adrian Mahoney, Falkirk Council’s community convener, said: "For many people the digital TV switchover has been easy, with families helping each other to re-tune TV sets and upgrade equipment to keep watching their favourite programmes. There have lots of posters, ads and leaflets to help people make the switch.

"However, we also know that not everyone can cope with changes in technology. The Switchover Help Scheme, run by the BBC and the government, is there to help eligible older or disabled people make the change to digital and provide everything they need to convert their TV.

"If you or someone you know needs help, please contact the helpline on 0800 40 85 900 before July 22 – or visit www.helpscheme.co.uk.

"There’s also more general information at http://www.digitaluk.co.uk/

Councillor Mahoney added: "The experts also tell me that all viewers should continue to fully re-tune their Freeview boxes or Digital TVs every so often to make sure they continue to receive the latest services.

"Anyone still needing help with reception problems or with setting up and using digital equipment, can get in touch with Digital UK through its website – www.digitaluk.co.uk – or its advice line on 08456 50 50 50."

* The Switchover Help Scheme has been especially designed around the needs of older and disabled people and can make switching to digital TV easier for them. If someone is eligible for help, the Help Scheme will have already written to them at their home address.

But did you know:

  • People can still take up the offer of help now even if they contacted the Help Scheme to opt out earlier this year
  • The Help Scheme can convert a second TV set in your home even if you already have digital on your main TV set.
  • The Help Scheme will set up and install everything you need to make the switch to digital.
  • All installers are approved and no one will call without an appointment
  • A free 12 month aftercare line is provided which offers help with retuning.

People are eligible for the Help Scheme if they are:

  • Aged 75 or over, or
  • Have lived in a care home for six months or more, or
  • Get (or could get):
    • Disability Living Allowance (DLA), or
    • Attendance or Constant Attendance Allowance, or o Mobility supplement, or
    • Are registered blind or partially sighted

Most people will be asked to pay £40 towards the standard option of help. For eligible people who are also on pension credit, income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance or income-related employment and support allowance, it’s free.

Eligible people need to respond to get the help. To make it easier to get help by switchover we are urging people to call the Help Scheme free on 0800 40 85 900.

So far, more than 115,000 older and disabled people in Scotland have taken up help from the Switchover Help Scheme, which is still open to STV Central viewers. Eligible people in the STV Central region who have not yet switched can apply to the Help Scheme until 22 July 2011 (one month after the last transmitter in the STV Central TV region switched to digital).

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