The BBC’s scheme to end free TV licences for most over 75s will now come into effect from August 1st – two months later than had originally been planned.
From that date onwards, only households with someone over the age of 75 who receives Pension Credit will receive a free licence, meaning that more than three million households who did not previously have to pay will now be charged.
The BBC says that no one will need to leave their home to claim their free licence or to pay for one and that each household will be written to by TV Licensing with clear instructions on how to proceed, while specialist telephone contact centres have also been set up.
RadioTimes.com has put together a guide to how to get a free TV licence and find out if you’re eligible.
BBC Chairman Sir David Clementi said of the scheme, “The decision to commence the new scheme in August has not been easy, but implementation of the new scheme will be Covid-19 safe. The BBC could not continue delaying the scheme without impacting on programmes and services.
“Around 1.5 million households could get free TV licences if someone is over 75 and receives Pension Credit, and 450,000 of them have already applied. And critically it is not the BBC making that judgement about poverty. It is the Government who sets and controls that measure.”
He added, “Like most organisations the BBC is under severe financial pressure due to the pandemic, yet we have continued to put the public first in all our decisions. I believe continuing to fund some free TV licences is the fairest decision for the public, as we will be supporting the poorest oldest pensioners without impacting the programmes and services that all audiences love.”
The decision to stop licence fee funding was originally taken by the government back in 2015, with legislation passed to give the BBC Board the responsibility for making a decision on the future of the concession.
The BBC Board has said that it believes the new scheme to be “the fairest option to help the poorest pensioners” and said it was a necessary step to ensure that “everyone will continue to receive the best programmes and services that the BBC can provide”.
The broadcaster added that the cost of continuing with the previous scheme, which would have cost £745 million, could well have resulted in the closures of BBC Two, BBC Four, the BBC News Channel, the BBC Scotland channel, Radio 5 Live, and a number of local radio stations.
Around 1.5 million households could be eligible for the free licence, the BBC says, with 450,000 have already applied.
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