BBC warns unless over-75s pay for a TV licence it may have to "fundamentally change" with cuts to service

21 November 2018
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The BBC says it may have to cut services unless over-75s start paying the licence fee, as it launched a consultation on the matter.

At the moment, all households with people aged over 75 are entitled to receive a free TV licence which costs £745 million a year and is due to finish in June 2020.

Moneywise reported in October that free TV licences for over-75s could be scrapped.

Now, the corporation has launched a consultation with a number of proposals to compensate for the loss of government funding for the scheme.

The broadcaster has warned that if the BBC renews the scheme this would cost around a fifth of its budget - the equivalent to what it spends on BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC Four, the BBC News Channel, CBBC and CBeebies.

That would mean over-75s would not have to pay, as at present, but the corporation says it would “fundamentally change” the BBC because of the scale of service cuts it would need to make.

One option would be to reinstate the fee for those over 75, but this would particularly hit poorer pensioners and mean they could be prosecuted for failing to pay.

Other proposals include raising the age of a free licence from 75 to 80 or introducing means-testing so that only those that can afford it pay.

Alternatively, a discount of 50% could be offered for older people, although this would still mean a shortfall in funding.

The consultation will run for 12 weeks until 12 February. The BBC says it hopes to make a decision by next summer.

Charity Age UK opposes the change, saying there are “significant practical difficulties and create unfairness for different groups of older people”.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, says: “There are two million people aged 75-plus, one in two of whom is disabled and one in four of whom view the television as their main form of companionship.

"For many others, including those who are chronically lonely - a social problem we are far more aware of than was the case a few years ago - the TV is a precious window on the world.”

She adds: “The BBC took on responsibility for the concession as part of a broader deal with the Government in which they received some significant benefits.

"Now it is their responsibility to appreciate the very significant role that television plays in many older people's lives and the damaging consequences of watering the concession down or removing it from them.”

People aged over 75 currently don’t have to pay the licence fee, saving £150.50 each year.

Free TV licences for the over-75s were introduced by the Labour Chancellor Gordon Brown in 2001.

However, in 2015 the government announced it would no longer subsidise the cost of the licence fee and the BBC would have to find the funding itself.

Tony Hall, BBC director-general, says: “We have set out a range of options - each has merits and consequences, with implications for the future of the BBC, and for everyone, including older people.

"We need to hear views to help the BBC make the best and fairest decision.”

If you would like to have a say in the consultation, you can do so on the BBC website

Comments

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Many of the staff are paid very high salaries beyond what the BBC can obviously now afford. Many folk approaching and of the 75 year age group in today's financial climate will not be able to fund the license themselves easily. TV is a life blood for many elderly people who may not have interaction with neighbours or family from one week to the next. Maybe means testing is a way forwards as many people will be well able to afford the expense.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

The license should be means tested for all. Even if we have to put up with adds .Staff should be paid less ..no mor than 50 k.if the salary is too low move over to other channels who probably wouldn't want the majority of them...Very poor service and bias

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Like buses, they can't operate without fees. The people who need them most are the elderly, they don't pay, and they are the ones who miss them most when they no longer exist.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I just can’t afford a tv licence I have£330 per month and get no benefits as my husband has pension of £ 700 we have £4 too much to qualify for benefits and we struggle to manage the tv is my only diversion as I am suffered no work th me bility problems so if we ha ve to pay I must give up something else perhaps heating or food I don’t buy new clothes or have a social life so I can’t cut down on that

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

2,000,000 over 75s at £150.50 each = £745,000,000 ??? Who is doing the arithmetic - maybe the Government should start a new study?

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I say be like itv and them and then no one pays BBC are just greedy but if they want to make money and make people pay then do like what someone else said make it pay to veiw or take a loss and just leave it as it is o.a.p don't get much as it is and yet most have done so much for this country so why should they have to pay for a licence when most of the time it's crap that is on anyway

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I am 83 and I need my television licence paid as I have very little left to survive on after all my enormous bills have been paid I even suggest that the BBC closes down and leave broadcasting to those services provided by advertising.. The BBC is now comparatively poor value for money and have been overtaken by services adequately financed.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I don't watch BBC TV, but I still have to pay the "BBC" TV Licence to enable me to watch what is on offer from numerous other sources. I asked TV Licensing what proportion of the "BBC" TV Licence allows me to watch non-BBC TV programmes - this was deemed an non-appropriate question, and would not be answered by TV Licensing or the BBC. I asked the BBC for BBC TV and BBC Local and national audience/ reach data - the BBC refused to supply this data directly. Remember, the BBC continues to tell us, its our (the "BBC" Licence Fee) payers BBC. This allows them to take the "BBC" Licence Fee monies regardless, and overspend, with a smile. Is the potential cancellation of the free Over 75's Free TV Licence, just another example of the BBC's unrestrained greed?

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I pay for sat TV and it's bloody expensive. I hate the BBC, there is nothing on any of its channels that I want to watch. I do not use their websites, radio stations or iPlayer. I work hard for my money and should not have to pay for another bloody quango.They should pay for themselves with adverts like all other TV stations, in the end the technology is out there to block TV channels, radio stations and websites. So why don't let the people that want to pay for BBC do so by subscription and the rest of us to pay for what we want? They are nothing special and should not be treated as such.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

i will remove my tv and radio from my house when they impliment this nonsense and every pensioner should do the same.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

all this to pay the BBC staff inflated saleries. So when they force pensioners to pay for a licence for the over 75 i will remove the tv and radio from my house as a matter of principal as the government still subsidise other countries and continue the foreign aid of billions and snub their own pensioners . i hope they try and sue me when i havent got a tvso if you have no tv they can do nothing to anyone end of story and i hope other pensioners do the same this will put a spanner in their works. BBC you are pathetic.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Two million pensioners over 75, £150 each does not make £745 m - something is missing in the maths perhaps the scaremongering effect?

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Dear Tony HallNo more talk of degrading means tested "benfits" please, regarding free (at the moment) TV licences for over 75's. This is the age group least likely to claim benefits that could be due to them. They have endured much in the past, so give them a break now, Television can be a lifeline and contact with the outside world if stuck indoors all day, unable to get out.From Jenny Maywood Flat 17 Fairhaven Court Egham TW20 9DH

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

How about advertising????????????????? Why cant the BBC do exactly what all other channels do? Instead of hitting the pockets of the needy. The British Brainwashing Corporation has had its day!!!!!!!!!!!! Advertise or be abandoned!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Plenty more content available, I think we should get a referendum on closing down the BBC and stop the rip of Licence fees. How many other countries actually have to have a Licence to use there televisions to watch live broadcasts. The BBC is Rubbish anyway

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Please let me keep my free licence tv is my only diversion as I can’t get out a lot mobility problems prevent me

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I have watched the BBC filming in Huddersfield, and wondered just how much is spent on one day's filming!, seems that money is no object, close the street down change all the signage, for 10 minutes of film. Also see on T.V. so called celebrities living in very expensive house's, look to yourselves B.B.C and make cut backs like the rest of us. How much do you give free to people abroad, you are just a money cow who are now trying to rob the poor pensioners to justfie your ridiculous high wages, we should be given the opt-in as to wether we have the B.B.C channel or not. We already pay for sky/virgin that provide much better programming than the B.B.C YOU ARE OLD AND OVER FUNDED....................

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Why do you mugs put up with this crap. You are just like sheep. Tell the BBC where to go and don't pay them a penny. Money grabbing swines

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

If the BBC were more careful of how they manage the licence fee, paying much less to these so called big celebrities, cut pay to directers etc then perhaps they would not need more money. The BBC is over rated and does not give good value for money.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

My wife and I feel that TV licences for 75+ should be free as many cannot afford one these days and many elderly vulnerable lonely people suffer from this cut.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Instead of considering charging over-75s for their TV Licence, the BBC needs to seriously review the huge "salaries" they are paying to so-called celebrities such as Gary Lineker etc etc etc. Chop their salaries or get rid of them I say. There's plenty of other people around to step into their shoes and do just as good a job, if not better!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Get rid of them ... if they can screw over 75's of probably the only thing that keeps talking to them every day by diluting their service or costing them to see the service .... they deserve to be shut down entirely.

In reply to by Cliff Edwards (not verified)

I agree with most of your comment except means testing as those who have paid nothing in on benefits and GPC are the ones who would be getting it free like everything else, those who don't qualify for full pension are better off on GPC than those who paid in full credits. I am 71 and live on just my state pension and can't got out much, in 4 years I would get free license but not sure we really need it, my old mother and her sister both managed with just a radio, TV is not an essential service. I agree cut BBC pay and go commercial with no license. Families with an over 75 living with them should not get free license, only if pensioner in own home with now wage earners.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I would have thought with the amount of immigrants we now have living in the country there is more than enough extra tv licence fees being generated to cover the cost of the elderly having theirs for free. But as always lets blame the elderly for everything, disgraceful way to treat them after everything they have done. Although we will not be able to say that about a lot of the future generations, who when they become elderly have spent all their lives on benefits!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

SIMPLE. cut out the 2 and 3 million pound salaries and jobs for the boys and tory palls job done.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

My comments relate to the possible change in the paying of TV licences for over 75’s. Instead cut the ludicrous and grossly excessive salaries of the so called presenters, such as Lineker, Shearer, et al.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I won’t be able to afford a tv licence I am 80@nd can’t get out do t have many visitors or contact with outside world the tv for me is a way to keep in touch as well as occupying my long days when I’m alone I can’t afford to eat keep warm and pay fort. Ido t ask for benifits but manage sothis would be an extra I would have to try and absorbe with great difficulty

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

In this stanage only UK seems to be at the bottom of league list in the whole world- with high tech /IT/Internet facilities all around only BBC seesm to be thriving on old and out dated imperial system by imposing punitive TV Licence fee.Soon we will be a highly accalimed laughing stock in the whole world .Come on TV fee it is time to abandon TV licence fee and introduce only BBC or ITV or Channel 4 or 5 Fee - which ever channel the viewer wants to watch in a free country like UK, should be able to do so only by paying for that channel or (s), just like we pay for Netflix,Sky and so on.Why can't BBC operate a commercial business (BBC already collecting money from advertisements in US )and become a pay and view channel -are they afraid of losing their monopoly and power!!! Sooner or later they have to. If Brexit is possible ,closure of BBc business is not a remote possibility.Revolt will take place sooner than later once public wake up and realise that licence fee is an infringement on viewers rights..

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I think the BBC are greedy with the cost of TV Licences and at £150.50 a year there are so many repeats. I live in a house of multiple occupants where there a 4 rooms each paying £150.50 a year making that a total of £602. per year just from one house. Freeview was great when it first stated but now it is full of repeats and when i buy a TV Guide it is almost the same as last weeks with the same films etc. Employees of the BBC are silly high wages all paid for by the public some are on over a million pound contracts. Old people should be entitled to keep their free over 75 licences and if it means helping them i do not mind if the licence fee goes up say £3. to help fund the elderly.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

BBC what can i say you spend money like its going out of fashion on shows that are rubbish and your repeats are now getting out of hand,Stop paying over priced so called well past it stars money for doing sweet nothing and pull your finger out and wake up to what people are saying that you are well past your sell by date.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

The numbers related for this issue are unbelievable. If the cost of the free licences is £745M/year, and a single licence costs £150.50/year, then there would be 4.95M free licences. Yet Age UK says (above) that there are only 2M people in the country aged 75+. And even if there were 5M people 75+, how many of them need licences? How many are living with another 75+ person? And how many are living in a care home and don't need a licence at all?

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Poor BBC .. they might then have to take a pay cut in their ridiculously excessive salaries and reduce all those Managers. Better still, scrap the Licence Fee altogether!!!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

try paying your overpaid so called stars & your general employees rates that the rest of the country enjoys & please don't say they will go elsewhere there are plenty of people who could & would be happy to replace them.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Lord Tony Hall was last year revealed in the BBC's annual report to be in the £450,000-£499,999 bracket when the broadcaster published a list of its top earners. Quote from Tony: 'I'm extremely well paid and I will leave it at that. I think I am paid properly for what I do and I'll just leave it at that.' Guess where I think any cut should be made!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Why not make the BBC a pay to view station and do away with the licence altogether or would they loose the EU funding they get. If it was a pay to view they would find out how few people really watch the biased rubbish they turn out anyway.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I don't know who the BBC are trying to fool. They pay their stars and presenters Premier League Football salaries and then say they may have to cut services if they continue to offer free TV licences to over 75s. They need to stop paying these people extortionate salaries then they can afford to offer free TV licences to over 75s. Their excuses don't fool anyone.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Maybe they should start by cutting back on excessive salaries for jobs a school kid could do, a lot of programs they have produced for their radio and TV services are utter rubbish. Where commercial TV would loose advertising revenue for poor programs there is no way to punish the BBC other than getting rid of TV to stop paying license, that thn deprives us of watching commercial TV, time to end the license fee and make the BBC survive off advertising.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Typical, just when I’m nearly qualifying for it!! Story of my life,

In reply to by Iain Edington (not verified)

Pensioners who get GPC of almost £165 a week automatically get many other benefits too many to list, I know as my ex wife does, I paid in for 50 years to get the old lower pension and can't get these extra benefits so who ae the poorest pensioners. I would stop all extra benefits for those on GPC as they have not paid in or paid too little. A TV is not essential, try a radio like my mother and aunt did. Means testing is wrong way to go.

In reply to by alan (not verified)

Diane Abbott, who else.

In reply to by Xrat (not verified)

The free bus pass was a better system in some counties when could only be used off peak and paid a small charge for every trip, could start at 50p for each trip, my mother and aunt used to love it to get to town and visits in evening, they paid 20p per trip must be over 17 years ago. Gordon Brown brought this free one out as a bribe to get votes. Winter fuel allowance and Free TV license ( if it has to stay) should be taxable for those with income above basic tax band.

In reply to by Mavis payne (not verified)

I am in my 70's living alone on old state pension, only extra is reduction on council tax, it's harder for households with only one person and one pension as it costs same for utilities, insurance, repairs, maintenance,. you only have to feed an extra person and it's easier to cook for 2 than for 1 as you receive 2 pensions to pay for it. If you can't afford a TV License then listed to the radio, plenty of old people on their own have to. It's time we stopped all the extra freebies for pensioners and all those on benefits, anyone on GPC should not receive automatic rights to a host of other free benefits as they are getting an equal income. If we have to pay TV License then everyone should, no exceptions, alternative sell off the BBC to the private sector for commercial broadcasting. If I never get a free TV License I will never miss it and those who have had it free will have to adjust their budget if they want it.

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