Free TV licence for over-75s will be means tested from August 1, BBC confirms 

BBC will scrap free TV licence for most over 75s from August 1 meaning more than three million households will have to start paying £157.50 fee

  • Controversial plans to end free licences for all aged over 75 given the green light
  • Only those who receive the Pension Credit benefit won’t have to pay the fee
  • BBC hoped to make the change on June 1 and the delay has cost £35m a month 

The BBC will scrap its free TV licence for over-75s from the start of August leaving more than three-million households facing paying fees for the first time. 

Millions of pensioners will have to pay the £157.50 fee from next month after controversial plans to end free licences for pensioners over the age threshold were given the green light.

Households which don’t have to pay for the right to watch live television and access the BBC’s iPlayer service must include someone who receives the Pension Credit benefit.

The free TV licence for over-75s will be means-tested from August 1, meaning more than three million households will be asked to start paying the £157.50 fee

The proposals sparked outrage when they were announced last year, with more than 630,000 people signing a petition set up by the charity Age UK, calling for action to be taken

The proposals sparked outrage when they were announced last year, with more than 630,000 people signing a petition set up by the charity Age UK, calling for action to be taken

What over-75s will need to do to secure a TV licence from August 1

The BBC says people aged 75 or over will remain fully covered by their existing free licence until July 31. 

No one needs to take any immediate action, or leave their home, to claim for a free TV licence or pay for one, according to the corporation, as TV Licensing will be writing to all over 75 licence holders with clear guidance. 

For those who now need to pay, they have a range of options and can choose to pay weekly, fortnightly, or monthly, if they don’t want to pay the licence fee all in one go.

Specialist telephone contact centres have been set up and people can also go online to complete the process.

This is claimed by around 1.5 million people, according to the latest government figures.

The change was originally due to be made on June 1, and delaying the move has cost the corporation some £35million a month. 

With an ageing population, the total cost to the BBC could have reached £1bn a year, bosses said. 

There have previously been warnings that allowing the licence to continue being free for all over 75 would lead to ‘unprecedented closures’ of services.   

The proposals sparked outrage when they were announced last year, with more than 630,000 people signing a petition set up by the charity Age UK, calling for action to be taken.

The government has provided free TV licences for the over-75s since 2000, but responsibility for the provision now rests with the BBC. 

Before the announcement was made, Labour’s shadow culture minister Christian Matheson told the Commons this morning that the proposals meant many pensioners could be ‘forced to choose between eating and watching TV’.

He added: ‘The BBC is cutting jobs and content to pay for the cost of the licence dumped on them by the government.’

Culture minister Matt Warman replied: ‘The fact is that the BBC has had a generous licence fee settlement and it is deeply disappointing that they have chosen to go down the path that they apparently are going down.

The government has provided free TV licences for the over-75s since 2000, but responsibility for the provision now rests with the BBC.

The government has provided free TV licences for the over-75s since 2000, but responsibility for the provision now rests with the BBC.

‘I would hope that there is time to reconsider that because [Mr Matheson] is right to say that television has been a vital comfort for many people in the last few months and it’s a vital part of our national economy as well.’ 

The corporation put the changes on hold in March, claiming the coronavirus pandemic had created ‘exceptional circumstances’ and ‘now is not the right time’.

The crisis means it needs to make savings of £125m this year, including the cost of delaying the over-75s changes. 

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 judgement 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.’