Pensioners will struggle to pay their TV licence as charity brands it a ‘slow motion car crash’

26 July 2019

Age UK is calling on new Prime Minister Boris Johnson to reverse the BBC's decision to stop free TV licences for the over-75s 


More than a million pensioners will struggle to pay their TV licence once the concession is scrapped next year, a charity has warned.

The BBC will no longer be funding the TV licence for people aged over-75 from next June.

However, those claiming pension credit will still be able to claim a free TV licence.

Age UK says that many pensioners, including those who have difficulty, dressing, bathing and getting out of bed will have difficulty paying the licence or proving that they are eligible for one.

Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s charity director, describes the means-testing plan as a “slow motion car crash”.

She says: “The idea that more than a million over-75s who are coping with serious health and care challenges will be able to comply with a new TV licence process, having never done so before, is cloud cuckoo land.”

Age UK says that more than a quarter (29%) of over-75s in the UK have difficulty with at least one activity of daily living.

The BBC has said it will send people to help those unable to complete their new processes – an idea widely criticised as ‘threatening’ by commentators.

Age UK is calling on  Boris Johnson to reverse the 2017 manifesto pledge to protect free TV licences for the over-75s until 2022.

Ms Abrahams says: “However straightforward the process it will still defeat many of them, unless they have friends and family who can help, and unfortunately a lot don’t.

 “We think there will be difficulties whether an older person is entitled to a free TV licence because they are on pension credit, or not.

“It is unfair to put them through this – and it is already clear that many will be deeply worried about ‘getting it wrong’ and somehow finding themselves on the wrong side of the law.

"The BBC’s setting up of ‘visiting teams’ may be designed to be helpful but that’s not how most older people we have talked to have reacted to the idea.”

Age UK says that 20% of the over-75s have difficulty dressing and 16% bathing or showering

Around 9% have difficulty getting in and out of bed, while 7% have trouble walking across a room.

In addition, 672,000 people are living with dementia and a further 662,000 with severe frailty.

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, starting in 2020.

However, the Conservative manifesto in the 2017 general election promised to protect free TV licences for the over-75s until 2022.

Research from Age UK shows there has been a huge groundswell of public support for the continuation of free TV licences for the over-75s since the BBC announced it was scrapping the concession.

Are you still eligible for a free TV licence?

Around 1.5 million households that include someone over 75 claiming pension credit could still be eligible for a free licence. The BBC says you will need to provide evidence that you are in receipt of pension credit to claim a free TV licence.

In order to claim pension credit your weekly income must be less than £167.25 if you’re single, or £255.25 if you are a couple.

The quickest way to apply for pension credit is to call the pension service on 0800 991234.

Alternatively, you can check your eligibility online on the government website here:


Free TV License for over 75 year olds

The pensioners who already get a free TV license should be allowed to keep it. Cancel it for anyone reaching 75 years of age from a set date i.e. 30th September 2019
Taking it away from the elderly is just mean.

Cancellation of free TV licences foor over 75s

I think the BBC should manage their budgets better and fund the free licences. The most annoying aspect is that even if one opts out of viewing their programmers by cancelling them in a smart TV menu, the licence fee will still have to be paid. If this option was available I am sure it would be the end of the arrogant and biased BBC

Abolition of Free TV Licence

I am a pensioner on the borderline and therefore do not qualify for Pension Credit. If the very well off in society refused this free service and pay for their licence, there would be no need for this to be abolished.

Who is to blame?

Why are they blaming the BBC for this? It's the Tories who take from the poor to give to the rich who are responsible for this! Not only are they going back on a manifesto promise (is that a surprise considering how they go back on all their promises when it relates to anyone on low income/disabled/ill?)

Leave the blame at the door of where it belongs - the evil Tory government!

Free TV Licence

Having paid Taxes for the whole of my working life I really appreciated freeTV licence at 75.It is with great dismay I am now to be charged for the TV licence which I cannot afford .As I am not in receipt of pension credit my only option will be to dispose of my TV.Having paid taxes all my working life I feel this is punishment for living too long !

Free TV Licences

No one appears to have addressed those that are in Residential Homes or Nursing Homes. Both of these residences if funded via social services mean the person getting the help has any benefits stopped, including pension credit. How do they prove they are actually entitled to Pension Credit or will that be passed to Social Services to deal with. So little thought has gone into this decision, it has to be said it looks like its only about getting in a much revenue as possible.

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