Scrapping free TV licences for over-75s could leave pensioners struggling to pay bills

23 January 2020

Age UK says the £154.50 licence fee is the equivalent of three monthly energy bills

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The decision to scrap free TV licences for the over-75s could leave hundreds of thousands of pensioners struggling to pay their bills, Age UK has warned.

The TV licence for those aged over-75 will be means-tested from June, leaving 3.7 million pensioners having to pay £154.50.

Age UK says the cost of a TV licence is equivalent to more than three monthly energy bills or more than five monthly water bills for over-75s.

Official figures show that over-75s households are already spending an average of £46 per month on electricity, £43 on gas and £28 on water.

The charity is warning that having to find the extra money each month will be a shock to the budgets of many older people across the UK who already have problems paying their utility bills. 

Why are free TV licences being scrapped?

After the Conservative government shifted the cost of the licence fee for over-75s to the BBC, the corporation was left with the choice of either scrapping the concession for the elderly or cutting broadcasting services.

The cost of funding the TV licence for everyone aged over 75 is £745 million a year.

The BBC says that to renew the scheme 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.

A bridge too far

Age UK says those on low incomes, battling loneliness, ill health and disabilities will be hardest hit if the decision to remove the licence fee concession remains in place.

It says that the decision could exclude some of the very poorest and oldest pensioners from watching TV.

Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s charity director, says: “All the evidence is that if the BBC’s plan goes ahead, hundreds of thousands of over-75s will struggle to pay for their TV licence.

“As winter bites this week we know that many pensioners are worried about their heating bills and cutting back spending on other essentials, including food, to save money wherever they possibly can.

“The last thing older people in this situation need is to be hit in the pocket again in a few months’ time and every year thereafter because they have to find the money for a TV licence too. They are already shelling out a lot on their utilities and for some an extra £150 plus a year will be a bridge too far.”

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.

However, Age UK estimates that two in five of all those eligible don’t claim pension credit, often because they don’t realise they are eligible.

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: https://www.gov.uk/pension-credit

Comments

No TV licence!!

If the government insist over 75's has to pay for a TV licence I will no longer watch television. I will not be paying for a licence. I do not think I am the only one who will not pay because I cannot afford one. Programmes are all repeats and very little I watch anyway. I will miss the news as I do not have a radio either!!

Scrap the BBC

I would be most happy if the BBC were scrapped, I have virgin media so I have to pay twice, I find it a complete farce when they pay exorbitant rates for has beens and have nothing worth watching!!

In reply to by William Harris (not verified)

BBC licence fees for over 75s

I am in the same position as you. I too pay for Virgin Media's TV service and having just achieved 75 recently I am to be deprived almost immediately of a privilege I waited long to achieve. The Government and the BBC could well come up with an answer that does not penalise older folk who do not receive pension credit but will still be hard pressed to find an extra £154.50 (and inevitably rising) each year. All this and more in an era of post-Brexit rising costs and all banks falling over each other to drastically reduce the rates of interest paid to savers - something that pensioners, in particular, so desperately depend on.

TV licence

I am over 75 and will be more than happy to have the BBC channels blocked on my TV.
I rarely watch BBC as it broadcasts dumbed down rubbish as an excuse for entertainment. There are better , more intelligent and deeper news programmes on other channels. As for paying a licence fee, wait and see. Pensioners are always the soft target in this country . The benefits they receive in Europe are far better. Where are the prisons going to put all those pensioners who refuse to pay ? I look forward to the pensioner revolution.

Scrapping TV licence for over 75's

When you've w
orked all your life and paid your dues and demands surely it would do no harm to allow you to watch the TV for free.

Concession for TV licences.

I think this desision was made because the first of we 'Baby Boomers' hit 75 in a couple of years time. I believe we may be the largest age group in the country, so who better to fleece £150 each from. It all comes down to £sd in old money.

TV Licence

OK stop the TV Licence but to take it off those already getting the concession is Disgraceful.

TV LICENCE

My sister is 57 and has suffered with mental health 40 years. She is isolated and lives on her on. She lives on £200 a forth night to pay for bills and food. She needs the tv for company but can not afford to pay the tv licence fee. She has offered to pay a bit on the card but they refuse to let her do this and send her threatening letters. Surely this is not humane.

TV Licence

I think it will be very difficult for us older people to find the extra money to pay this bill, especially if you are just over the weekly means tested figure like me, and cannot get pension credit, I would rather have less service and keep this very helpful free TV Licence

Free TV licences for the over 50 s.

If the service providers really can't afford this how about a 50% reduction?

pension credit.

We have been refused pension credit because our income is too low,£10,200 a year. You need to earn at £20,000 a year to qualify.

TV Licence

We would not manage such a High cost of the licence, in fact its our only entertainment in the home.

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