BBC to restrict free over 75 TV licence to pension credit recipients

Carla Harmon
June 12, 2019

While many supported copying the Government's concession - so that all over 75s received a free TV licence - there was also strong support for reform.

Up to 3.7million pensioners will now have to pay following the BBC's decision to means-test licence fees.

The BBC will launch an awareness campaign across TV and radio alerting pensioners to the change, which could encourage 600,000 low income households now not in receipt of Pension Credit, to take advantage of the weekly top-up.

The Government has been criticised for forcing the financial burden onto the BBC, which was unable to cope with the added cost. However, in 2015 the Conservative government, guided by George Osborne, struck a deal under which the subsidy would be phased out from 2020 onwards, with the broadcaster having to shoulder the cost of free TV licences. 'It's a massive hardship for millions of people, said Claire Enders of Enders Analysis.

"This move could put the price of a TV licence beyond some pensioners which would increase isolation and have a negative impact on their mental health".

With the Liberal Democrats no longer in coalition, an uninhibited Tory government moved fast to impose new spending controls - hashing out a new settlement with the BBC director general, Tony Hall, in clandestine talks that lasted just a week.

"The BBC is battling to maintain its main source of funding while also remaining relevant to younger viewers".

Lord Hall has announced that licence fees will now be linked to Pension Credit and will be means-tested.

Conservative Damian Collins, chairman of the Digital Culture Media and Sport Select Committee, said: "The ending of historically free TV licences for all those over 75, regardless of income, will mark a significant departure for the BBC and almost four million pensioners who don't pay for it". Let us know how you feel about the decision by voting in our poll.

But many people have called this "unfair" for pensioners who may struggle to afford this new charge.

The BBC have said if they took on the cost of the free licenses, the extra cost would meant "unprecedented closures" across a number of channels.

In fact a recent consultation of 190,000 people found that 52 per cent of them were in favour of scrapping or reforming free TV Licences.

"Many stakeholder responses to our consultation questioned the BBC's ability to fund such a concession and continue to offer high-quality services".

They will have to start paying £154.50 a year for the right to watch live television or access the BBC's iPlayer service.

A statement issued by the Manx government states that those individuals in receipt of a free TV Licence do not need to contact the Treasury as their licences remain valid.

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