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TV Licensing - Close-up of official correspondence

Blanket free TV licences for over-75s scrapped

The BBC announced an end to free TV licences for many over-75s, meaning up to 3.7 million older people will have to pay for their licence.

The decision comes after the government announced in 2015 the BBC would take over the cost of providing free TV licences to over-75s by 2020, costing the BBC £745 million, a fifth of their budget. Under the new rules, only low-income households where one person receives pension credit benefit will still be eligible for a free licence. This new scheme is expected to cost the BBC £250 million in comparison by 2021/2022.

According to the BBC, around 900,000 households are claiming pension credit, which is a government benefit paid weekly to pensioners on low incomes. The number of households which could be eligible to apply for pension credit could number 1.5 million by 2020.

On the decision George McNamara, Director of Policy and Influencing at Independent Age, commented: “This is a massive kick in the teeth for millions of older people up and down the country. It is a great shame that the BBC has ignored the overwhelming case for keeping free TV licences for all over-75s.

“By linking the free TV licence to Pension Credit, this will further isolate the poorest pensioners who are eligible for Pension Credit but not receiving it. It is reprehensible that the government has stood by and done nothing to rectify a policy that will hit the housebound, disabled and most socially-isolated in society.”

In response to the decision, Age UK has launched a campaign and petition against the ruling Switched Off: Save free TV for older people. You can find more details on their website.

Read: BBC News – TV licences: Up to 3.7 million over-75s to pay licence fee