CUTS to free TV licences for people over 75 could lead to an increase in elderly suicides in Barrow, a campaigner has said.

The BBC is planning to cut the free licences for elderly people who do not qualify for pension credit - but one woman has vowed to do everything she can to make the corporation reconsider.

Gemma Humes, 34, said the cuts could leave elderly people without "company" if they are not able to afford to watch TV.

Miss Humes said the support had had received from knocking on doors had been "overwhelming" and hopes Barrow's MP will present the signatures to Parliament.

She said: "It's absolutely heartbreaking that many elderly people won't be able to afford to watch TV and they will lose the companionship that having it on will provide.

"It will make them feel glum. I think it could lead to more suicides among elderly people.

Miss Humes, a clinical support worker, said she had talked to a number of people who failed to qualify for pension credit by a matter of pence.

On the petition, she said: "It's better to try and fail than not do anything at all."

Age UK has set up a national petition against the licence fee cuts.

The petition said: “The BBC has announced they plan to means-test TV licences for the over 75s.

"That means they’ll only be free for people receiving pension credit. We believe this change will harm millions of older people who rely on their TV. Together, we must demand the Government takes back responsibility for funding free TV licences.”

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said it had been “inundated” with phone calls and emails in support of the petition.

She said: “The fact that our #SwitchedOff petition now has more than half a million signatures demonstrates the strength of public feeling about the unfairness of the Government scrapping free TV licences for over-75s, and remember that about half of this age group are not themselves online.

The licence fee changes are set to come into effect in June 2020.