Free TV licences for over-75s ends on 31 July

The ending of free TV licences for all people aged over 75 was due to happen on 1 June but was delayed due to the coronavirus.  The fee will now be reinstated on 1 August.

This means more than three million households will be asked to start paying the £157.50 fee from 1 August.

But if you receive Pension Credit benefit you will be exempt from the charge.

Free TV licences for the over-75s have been provided by the government since 2000, but responsibility for the provision was passed to the BBC as part of its last licence fee settlement.

The BBC said the new scheme is “the fairest decision”, but the government said it was “the wrong decision” and Age UK called it “a kick in the teeth”.

Recognising the exceptional circumstances occuring as a result of the coronavirus lockdown, the BBC Board  decided to change the start date to 1 August and the issue will remain under review as the situation continues to evolve.

The cost of continuing to provide free licences to all over-75s could have reached £1 billion a year over time with an ageing population, according to the corporation.

BBC Chairman Sir David Clementi said the decision had “not been easy”, but the broadcaster is under “under severe financial pressure” and a further delay would have had an impact on programmes.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK said:

“At Age UK we’re bitterly disappointed by this decision on behalf of the millions of over-75s who have had a torrid time over the last few months and for whom this must feel like another kick in the teeth, during a terrible year.

“Many older people on low incomes have told us that if they have to find £150 plus a year to pay for a licence then they will have to forego some other essential, or try to survive without TV at all. We genuinely worry about the mental health of older people living on their own in this situation if they have to give up their cherished TV – for some it really is all they have and their main way of alleviating their chronic loneliness.

“Everyone needs to understand that under the BBC’s scheme many hundreds of thousands of the poorest pensioners will be facing a bill they will simply be unable to afford to pay. That’s due to its flawed design – you only get a free licence if you are receiving Pension Credit but as many as 2 in 5 of all the pensioners on the lowest incomes do not receive this benefit, even though they are entitled to it.”

“We know from talking to older people that many are feeling anxious and depressed, and frightened about the future – they are being told to be cautious because we are not yet ‘out of the woods’. Everyone in this age group has more than enough to worry about already , particularly those who are alone, for whom their TV is more of a lifeline than ever. We regularly hear from older people who are still too afraid to go out much, if at all, and so the TV really is their window on the world.

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