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Free TV licence for over-75s to be means-tested from August 1

The free TV licence for over-75s will be means-tested from August 1, the BBC has said.

The broadcaster previously postponed the axing of the universal entitlement for pensioners because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Means-testing was pushed back from June 1 to August 1, with outgoing director-general Lord Tony Hall saying it was not the right time to introduce it in “the middle of a crisis”.

But the corporation has now said the new scheme will begin on August 1.

BBC chairman Sir David Clementi said: “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 judgment about poverty. It is the Government who sets and controls that measure.

“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 broadcaster has been urged by charities such as Age UK to scrap the decision to end the universal benefit.

A TV licence

A TV licence

The charity called on the “BBC and the Government to sit down and agree a way forward”, saying that pensioners relied on their free TV licence more than ever, as their main source of news and information about Covid-19 in lockdown.

The free TV licence was introduced in 2000, but the BBC agreed to take on responsibility for funding the scheme as part of the charter agreement hammered out with the Government in 2015.

The broadcaster, which faces increased competition from streaming giants, has said it cannot afford to take on the financial burden from the Government.

Continuing with the Government scheme would have cost the corporation £745 million, the BBC said, meaning 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, as well as other cuts and reductions.

But the move provoked a swathe of criticism, with the likes of Dame Helen Mirren calling the end of the universal entitlement “heartbreaking”, and former prime minister Gordon Brown saying “costs should be covered by the Government”.

Dame Helen Mirren

Dame Helen Mirren said the decision was ‘heartbreaking’

The decision comes as the Government is set to announce its response to a consultation on decriminalising licence fee evasion.

The Government launched an eight-week consultation in February which received more than 100,00 responses.

A report in May in The Times newspaper, citing data obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, suggested that hundreds of people had opted to cancel their TV licence each day over the past five months.

The broadcaster has launched a programme of voluntary redundancy as it attempts to make £125 million in savings this year – on top of the previous £800 million savings target – due to the pandemic.

It has also announced job cuts in TV news and local radio in England and said it was axing more than 150 roles in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

It also plans to cut around 450 jobs in BBC News, to take place at a later date.

The broadcaster said safety would be at the “heart” of the scheme”, as “no-one needs to take any immediate action, or leave their home, to claim for a free TV licence or pay for one”.

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee chairman Julian Knight described the decision as a “body blow to millions of British pensioners”, saying he had hoped the Government and the BBC would thrash out “a fresh deal”.

The Conservative MP said: “This mess is a result of a poor decision struck by the outgoing director-general and now Britain’s pensioners are having to pick up the cost.”

Broadcasting union Bectu said the Government should pay for the entitlement.

Its head Philippa Childs said: “This BBC has been put in an impossible position by the Government on free licences…  It should never have had to choose between charging over-75s and losing essential revenue.

“The BBC’s role is to inform educate and entertain the nation, not make welfare or benefit decisions. That is the role of government and it is the Government who should be administering and funding this benefit.”

 

 Do you currently have a free TV licence? How does today’s announcement make you feel?

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viking
14th Jul 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
Adding to my previous rant, taking away from the elderly and lonely their sole companion, just shows how well the elderly are regarded by both political parties. So much for the so called "caring society "
viking
13th Jul 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
The agencies are always preaching that the lock down is causing mental problems for those elderly people who live alone. Loneliness is a terrible state to have to endure, and so many elderly do live this lifestyle, and now to deprive the less well off their only companion, just seems to be crass idocy.
Witneymum
10th Jul 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
I think it is disgraceful of the BBC to means test the TV licence for the over 75’s. I run a charity that supports people to be able to live independently on their own at home. We have befrienders who visit them (under normal circumstances, they are doing it by phone at the moment) once a week for a chat or just to put the world to rights. Other than this once a week visit, many of our clients are on their own, as family often live far away, and depend on television to keep them company. The means test may mean that they are not eligible for a free licence, yet they will have to give up necessities to be able to afford it. I think it’s unnecessarily cruel of the BBC, given the world we are living in at the moment, to take away the one thing that keeps these people from loneliness and the inevitable mental illness that will prevail. I hope they do rethink the charge.
Joeann
10th Jul 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
Dad cannot afford This license, his income is minimal, he is unable to claim benefits apart from SP and CAA! How do they expect him to find that money as well as his other every growing bills for rates, electric gas, telephone. He doesn’t even have the internet
ChrisJ33
20th Jul 2020
0
Thanks for voting!
I thought if income was very low it is possible to claim pensioner credit and anyone claiming that gets a free license
BrendaM127
10th Jul 2020
2
Thanks for voting!
Why is it the elderly always miss out. We are not on any benefit but are not well off. We have to pay the same gas, electric , water ,insurances, and dentists as everyone else that are working and earn a considerable amount more than our meagre pensions. I think they should stop paying the presenters so much money. The BBC should go over to adverts same as other stations wouldn’t need a licence then. Problem solved.
ChrisJ33
20th Jul 2020
0
Thanks for voting!
I am in the same position but I like the BBC as it is i.e. without adverts. It's been invaluable to me during the last weeks of lockdown. I've downloaded many items which I've enjoyed watching. I'll pay up and look cheerful, after all it amounts to a cup of fancy coffee per week
Shorrock81
10th Jul 2020
0
Thanks for voting!
Plain and simple, I cannot afford to pay for the TV licence. I'm 81 and to now take away something I've been given free for the past 6 years is heartbreaking. My monthly income is £1,000 a month and the cost of a licence has given me the ability to renew my car on HP which is important for my independence. The BBC is targeting an age group who depend on their TV for company. The whole of my income is taken up with living: . heating, Council Tax, water costs, dental insurance, pet insurance, car insurance, house&contents insurance, petrol, food and socialising. I haven't had a holiday for 10 years and I've only £8,000 in savings. Do I make myself clear!
TomC5
10th Jul 2020
3
Thanks for voting!
Too many people at the BBC are over paid , and even too many employed . Do they need to send someone to far off places to comment for one minute about an item, often obscure, and at great expense ?. MOTD, 3 ex footballers commenting for a few mins once a week, paid anything from half, to two million pounds per year. Please dont tell me thats value for money!
ChristineB726
10th Jul 2020
4
Thanks for voting!
Stop paying the presenters so much money and expenses that would save millions! Our elderly have fought and worked hard to save for a comfortable retirement and the free tv licence is probably the only perk they have ever claimed in their lives,.
YvonneH627
9th Jul 2020
3
Thanks for voting!
As the BBC is stopping, I beg your pardon, means testing, what is the criteria to be? Will this be another case of them overpaying themselves and making programs the majority don't want to watch. Out of 7 days TV BBC programs watched by me include: Pointless, Casualty, Bargain Hunt & Impossible.. Dr. Who was one of my favourite programs.
You work hard serving queen & country and for what? to be ripped off by the BBC, which I thought stood for BRITISH Broadcasting Corporation, it's disheartening.
Rose williams
9th Jul 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
I am upset to have to start paying again at80
Kyegon
9th Jul 2020
3
Thanks for voting!
And how much will it cost to pay all the 'officials' to come and check you aren't watching tv without a licence. Could the fat cats at the top not take a smaller salary and why not start getting huge sums by advertising on tv? What makes the BBC think that only people on pension credit have no money. Surely if pensioners live with a family who aren't badly off and all working that would make sense to pay the licence fee, not pensioners who live alone. Just saying.
RosemaryB59
9th Jul 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
More people would be quite happy to pay half the current TV. Licence, as you will find that a lot of people will find a way to get out of paying anything. so people who are not Rich or poor, are more willing to help others by agreeing to this method.
The licence is very expensive for us old age pensioners.!
LindaI47
9th Jul 2020
2
Thanks for voting!
I totally agree with all the comments on here and for starters MOTD has three people on their panel who are obviously being paid a vast amount to give their views so they should cut that down to one person, and then as somebody mentioned about the EastEnders set costing millions which the bbc keep saying they have,nt got, and then there are all the repeats which are put on day in and day out so I think we the public should definitely have the option whether we want to watch bbc and pay for it or opt out and not pay a penny and then it makes it fair for everybody.
Supergrankids
9th Jul 2020
4
Thanks for voting!
Disgraceful! Yet again ordinary pensioners are being denied the free t v licence. I’m not on pension credit because I believed that having a small ( and I mean small ) private pension near the end of my working life would cushion any needs I may face in my old age. Because of that I didn’t get the full state pension until it was decided to bring all women pensioners up to the full amount Being over 65 means I also am not entitled to careers allowance only attendance allowance which also meant that the Scottish government extra payment for unpaid carers didn’t include me. .My husband has dementia and the tv is his greatest pleasure and it’s been a godsend for me also.
I know that it sounds like I am having a pity party but I am aware that many people my age have the same injustices applied to them. We worked hard for low wages, poor working hours and conditions and try not to be a drain on resources. We don’t deserve the treatment we get now.
Rant Over.xxx
PurpleHat
9th Jul 2020
4
Thanks for voting!
I am in much the same position, Having seen my parents rely entirely on a pitiful State Pension in their last years, I saved for a small private insurance-based pension while I had a part-time job.
I am a widow now and 88, living in a rural area and not going out. Any "Cost- of- living" pension increase this year is entirely wiped out, but NOT the increase to us of the cost of living bills!!
I do not qualify for any extra benefits because of my own prudence!!!.
Taking away our free TV licence at our age is an appalling decision for those of us who are below the level even for paying income tax. It is a tax on age!.
JohnL143
9th Jul 2020
2
Thanks for voting!
Why has nobody mentioned a consessionary rate? Say 50%. This meets both sides half way, and I think us OAPs might be more likely to accept the price of a licence.
doubletrouble
10th Jul 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
John I believe that could be an acceptable compromise if nothing comes of negotiations. I am sad to be losing my free licence but am in the fortunate position of being able to afford one. However, there are many who aren’t. Of course, there are many who can as well! The cost of a full means testing system is expensive and I have wondered if a simpler method could be used by tying up with HMRC. If someone pays tax, they can pay for the licence. However, as we know, there are always people who fall through the cracks.
mick2e1hzm
9th Jul 2020
0
Thanks for voting!
It's ok they will get a cheque once a month through the post, and if every one does that they will have to have a rethink, look at the number of repeat programmes and the silly money they pay, the trouble is you are paying for having a TV in your home, a few years ago a TV engineer made his TV so it would not receive BBC so they got the law changed, sell the BBC off because it is a waste of our money look how much they have spent on building the new EastEnders set quite a few million pounds
rosepetals
9th Jul 2020
0
Thanks for voting!
This is a disgraceful decision affecting the country's most vulnerable people. Loneliness and illness cause severe trauma to mental health in the elderly and at the worst possible time they are hit with yet another cost which will cause upset and worry to the elderly!! The Government are dishing out millions to help people during the Coronovirus at the moment but yet again pass over the elderly who are desperately trying to make ends meet but are not entitled to Benefits!!
Pauline Annette
9th Jul 2020
2
Thanks for voting!
I think the BBC is obsolete I am going to have to pay and I very rarely watch it a pity we can’t take it off our TV s .
GladysLee
9th Jul 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
Very unfair for our age group, been through war years, worked and saved. Paid our bills on time. No exotic holidays. Now almost housebound we have to pay for tv licence. Living alone TV is a great comfort. Please rethink.
val d
9th Jul 2020
2
Thanks for voting!
If I could get rid of BBC I would ,Im not in the pension credit bracket yet every penny we have is allocated to bills apart from a small amount for clothing and the occasional meal out. I would have to cut back even further if we had to pay for the licence of a channel we rarely watch.
JudyA5
9th Jul 2020
2
Thanks for voting!
I also hardly ever watch the BBC. I am 79 years old, worked from the age of 15 to age 66 I think it is disgraceful that the only people who will get free TV Licenses are people on benefits, who have probably never worked. Most likely because they didn’t want too, not through illness. Us oldies who have paid national insurance, and income tax all our working lives, should be better looked after by the government not penalised because we don’t claim tax credits. To people living alone like myself television is our only companion, especially during the long dark days of winter.
BettyM89
9th Jul 2020
0
Thanks for voting!
I agree. I have paid for a TVs licence all my married life. As did my parents before me. Surely at our age we should enjoy the benefit of a free licence.
Dellboy
9th Jul 2020
0
Thanks for voting!
As an 86 year old,I have two observations to make.

1.Paying for the TV licence will mean that the increase in State Pension will be required.
2.'Those in receipt of Pension Credit will qualify for free licences'...many qualify for one element,will all recipients therefore be entitled?
DorothyT33
9th Jul 2020
0
Thanks for voting!
BBC Lisence fee is a rip off. All you get is repeat. Also BBC Scotland it broadcasting English football. I CERTAINLY don't want to watch. I think my tv licence cost to much.
carolp1974
9th Jul 2020
3
Thanks for voting!
really angry that i have to pay.I am not happy with all the sport on bbc 1 +bbc2,and now we will be paying for repeats for how long,no-one knows.lucky people on pension credit.
2
Thanks for voting!
I rarely watch the BBC and would not miss it if I never watched it but I am now going to have to pay the TV licence fee, if I want to or not. This can not be right.
How can I get around this ? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Identifying live tv and non live tv is a bit of a minefield.

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