The BBC has announced that it won’t provide free TV licences for people aged over 75 from June 1st 2020, unless they’re claiming Pension Credit benefit. At the moment, anyone aged 75 or over can get a free TV licence.
BBC to end free TV licences for over 75s
A TV licence costs £154.50 (£52 for a black and white TV) a year. Charities such as Age UK believe the change will harm millions of older people who rely on their TV. The charity has launched a petition to reverse the changes and, at the time of writing, has over 400,000 signatures.
Free TV licences to over 75s are currently funded by the government. In 2015, the government announced that the BBC would take over the cost of providing free licences for over-75s by 2020. This would have cost the BBC £745 million, a fifth of it’s budget, by 2021/22. But with the new changes, it will instead cost the BBC around £250 million by 2021/22.
The BBC says that BBC Two, BBC Four, the BBC News Channel, the BBC Scotland channel, Radio 5live, and a number of local radio stations would all have been at risk if they had not taken this action.
What do you do next?
Up to 3.7 million people will be affected by this change. If you think you will be affected, you don’t need to take any action yet, or contact the BBC. The BBC says they will be writing to all free over 75 licence holders in “good time” before 31st May 2020 to let them know how they may be affected and what they will need to do.
The BBC has the following advice on their website:
- If you already have a free over 75 licence and receive Pension Credit, you will continue to be eligible for a free licence.
SAVVY TIP: Keep your latest Pension Credit letter safe, as the BBC may ask you to send a copy later when it’s time to claim your free TV licence.
- If you do not receive Pension Credit and are unlikely to qualify for it, you will stay licensed until 31st May 2020.
- If you don’t receive Pension Credit, but live with someone who does and is aged 75 or over you will be able to transfer the licence to the name of the person in the household who receives Pension Credit, and apply for a free TV licence.
- In the coming months the BBC will be discussing arrangements for TV licences for older people in the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man with each respective Government.
- If you deal with the TV licence on behalf of someone who is over 75 and the licence holder already has a free over 75 licence and receives Pension Credit, they will continue to be eligible for a free licence. If the licence holder does not receive Pension Credit and is unlikely to qualify for it, they will stay licensed until 31st May 2020.
- If you are 75 or over and you live in a residential care home, supported housing or sheltered accommodation which has a reduced licence fee you will continue to be covered by your free licence until it runs out after June 2020. After that, if you are no longer eligible for a free licence because you do not receive Pension Credit, you will need to pay but it will be at the reduced licence fee for your home. The BBC will contact your warden or administrator to explain to them what they will need to do.
- If you’re 74, you can still apply for a free over 75 TV licence and will get a short term licence to cover you until your 75th birthday. If your birthday is before 1st June 2020, you’ll then receive a free over 75 licence to cover you until 31st May 2020. If you turn 75 on or after 1st June 2020, receiving a free TV licence when your short term licence ends will depend on whether you receive Pension Credit.
Pension credit – are you eligible?
If you’re over the state pension age and on less than £167.25 a week (or £255.25 a week if you’re a couple), you’ll be entitled to Pension Credit – and you may be able to get it if you have savings, as well. Up to 1.3 million people are entitled to Pension Credit, but are not claiming it.
If you think you may be eligible to receive Pension Credit, you can find out more on the gov.uk website or by calling 0800 99 1234.
You can find out more about the changes on the TV Licensing website.
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