The annual TV licence fee is set to rise by £4 to £154.50, the third price hike in four years
Meanwhile more than 860,000 TV licences were cancelled in 2017/18 compared to 798,000 in 2016/17, according to figures obtained by The Times.
The BBC says that the cost of the annual television licence fee will increase from £150.50 to £154.50 from 1 April.
The government, which sets the level of the licence fee, announced in 2016 it would rise in line with inflation for five years from 1 April 2017.
Those renewing in March will pay the current rate of £150.50. Those buying a new licence before 1 April 2019 will also pay the current rate.
Campaigners say the increase will put even further pressure on pensioners who are already struggling financially.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, says: “This £4 a year increase to the TV licence fee adds insult to injury for the over-75s who face losing their free TV licence next year.
“For the three in 10 living in poverty or just above the poverty line, struggling to afford the basics such as heating and eating, further increasing a bill they already cannot afford will cause great anxiety and concern.”
The BBC says: "The new licence fee amount equates to just £2.97 a week or £12.87 a month, for which the BBC provides nine national TV channels plus regional programming, 10 national radio stations, 40 local radio stations plus dedicated nations radio services, one of the UK's most popular websites, the radio app BBC Sounds, and BBC iPlayer."
More people ditching the TV licence
More than 860,000 TV licences were cancelled in 2017/18 compared to 798,000 in 2016/17, according to figures obtained by The Times.
This amounts to 2,300 cancellations a day and marks the first rise in cancellations in five years.
Online streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime video, do not require a TV licence to watch them and have seen a rise in popularity in recent years.
A basic Netflix subscription costs £5.99 a month or around £72 a year, less than half the price of the £150.50 annual cost of the licence fee. Analysts estimate that Netflix has 9.78 million subscribers in the UK.
A BBC spokesperson says: “There are more licences in force than ever before – 25.8 million – while the number of cancellations has fallen by 15% since 2012/13.
“The number of cancellations includes all licences cancelled by TV Licensing due to payment failure, as well as cancellations from customers who no longer need a licence - for example, if they have moved into an address which already has one.”
A TV licence is compulsory to watch live television or use the BBC’s iPlayer streaming service.
The BBC is currently in talks with ITV and Channel 4 about setting up a British rival to Netflix that would have access to archive programmes.
Over-75 free licence review
The announcement comes as free TV licences for the over-75s are being reviewed.
The BBC has launched a consultation to decide how the TV licence for the over-75s should be paid for.
The corporation says that it may have to cut services unless over-75s start paying the licence fee.
Age UK has warned that scrapping the licence fee could plunge as many as 50,000 pensioners into poverty.
Ms Abrahams says: "At the moment TV licences are free for over-75s who apply for one. They are only at risk because the government passed responsibility for funding and administering free TV licences to the BBC from 2020 in a private deal, without giving them any money to fund it.
“We believe over-75s should keep their free TV licences and we urge the government to take back responsibility for the funding them.”
A BBC spokesperson says: “Free TV licences for people over 75 are expected to cost £745 million a year by 2021/22, and government funding for the scheme ends in June 2020.
“We're conscious that pensioner poverty is still an issue for some older people. We have set out a range of options in our consultation - each has merits and consequences, with implications for the future of the BBC and for everyone, including older people.
“We need to hear everyone’s views to help the BBC make the best and fairest decision."
Your so right the BBC is a biased organisation in so many ways and it’s time is should be disbanded if it can’t remain impartial anymore.
BBC TV license
The BBC has gone off the rails. An organisation that is proud of such a dismal program as EastEnders is surely beyond recovery. I have not watched TV for months 99% of it is rubbish. I avoid BBC radio because of the political lecturing and obsession with a ground hog day short list of PC themes. New commercial talk stations such as LBC and Talkradio do a much more grown up job and provide excellent programs that show how dumbed down and politically correct the BBC has become.
I cancelled my licence tax when we moved as we couldn't get Virgin anymore, I realised were were paying over £80 a year for broadcast TV we never, ever watched. We just Netflix and download films now. Used to love Radio 4 when it was filled with obscure, fascinating, apolitical content but now it's just endless anti-male, anti-white, high tax, open border, Pro-EU, Big State, "'made up victim of the week', did we mention you need to pay more tax for them?" left wing posturing. I will miss the football but I have less time to watch all the matches now so can just watch time delayed highlights online. It feels good to not be paying for bigoted, openly left wing PC sermonising - there's a place for that and it's the Guardian where people who like it, pay for it as is their right.