The over-75s TV licence fee debate so far

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More than three million people aged over 75 will have to pay for their TV licence when a new scheme comes into effect next year.

Here are some questions answered.

– What are the changes?

From June 2020, around 3.7 million households which previously received a free licence will have to pay for one.

At the moment, all over-75s receive a free TV licence, but from next year only those households with a member who receives pension credit will be eligible.

Those found to be ineligible for a free licence will have to pay £154.50 a year for a colour television and £52 a year for a black and white television.

BBC iPlayer
Those found to be ineligible for a free licence will have to pay £154.50 a year for a colour TV (Philip Toscano/PA)

The changes will affect all over-75s who do not receive pension credit.

Even if they previously had a free TV licence, they will have to buy one from June 1 2020.

– Who has opposed the change?

The outcry has been widespread and intense.

Prime Minister Theresa May said she was “very disappointed” and urged the BBC to reconsider.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said pensioners had spent their lives contributing to society, so providing them with free TV licences “is not too much to ask”.

London Tech Week
Prime Minister Theresa May said she hoped the BBC would look again (Leon Neal/PA)

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson labelled the burden placed on pensioners an “outrage”.

Conservative Party leadership hopefuls Andrea Leadsom and Esther McVey opposed the move, with the latter saying she felt “ashamed” of the BBC.

Sajid Javid and Matt Hancock, who are running for the leadership as well, also criticised the move.

Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan said the BBC should be ashamed and should be forced to U-turn on the issue.

TV star Christopher Biggins said it was “wrong” to means-test older people.

Dale Winton funeral
Piers Morgan opposed the move (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Former pensions minister and Tory peer Ros Altmann said the BBC should not have to “carry the can” for the £745 million cost of the licences.

The BBC itself also defended the decision, saying restricting free licences to only over-75s on pension credit is the fairest option.

– Has a petition been launched?

Three major petitions have been launched opposing the move.

More than 326,000 people have signed a petition launched by Age UK calling for free television for the elderly to be protected.

Over 20,000 have added their names to a petition on the Labour website while 86,000 have signed a petition on the parliamentary site.

Jeremy Corbyn in Birmingham
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has criticised the move (Jacob King/PA)

The Government-funded scheme to provide all households with people over 75 with a free TV licence comes to an end in 2020.

The Government has legislated that it is the BBC’s responsibility to decide on any future scheme and to pay for it.

Following a public consultation, the BBC decided that means-testing pensioners and giving free licences only to those on pension credit is the fairest way.

The BBC said if it had to fund licences for all over-75s, it would have meant unprecedented closures, including the end 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.

– What happens now?

TV Licensing will be writing to all free over-75 licence holders before May 31 2020 to let them know how they may be affected and what they will need to do.

Face-to-face assistance will be provided for older people through an outreach programme delivered by specially trained customer care field staff and the size of the TV Licensing customer support call centre will also be increased.

TV Licensing will also launch a free telephone information line this month where older customers and their relatives can access recorded information on the new policy and advice to customers by calling 0800 232 1382.

Information and frequently asked questions can also be found on the TV Licensing website,

TV Licensing will also be developing a new pay as you go payment scheme especially for customers who will need to pay for their licence from June 2020.

This scheme will let customers spread the cost of their licence in fortnightly or monthly payments to make it easier to pay.

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