The BBC has not delayed its OAP TV licence charge - here's what it means for over-75s

Friday, 26th June 2020, 8:40 am
Updated Friday, 26th June 2020, 3:59 pm
(Photo: Shutterstock)
(Photo: Shutterstock)

The BBC has made no decision on delaying the introduction of paid-for TV licences for over-75s for a second time.

An article on this website previously stated that those aged over-75 were due to have their free licences scrapped, and would have to pay the annual charge of £157.50 from October. In actuality, the BBC will make a decision on this in July. It is possible that OAPs may be charged from August.

A BBC spokesperson said, “The BBC has made no such decision and it is wrong to suggest we have. The BBC's position is that we have delayed implementation until August - and we are doing what we have always said - which is keeping that decision under review. The BBC will announce its decision in July.”

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Why was the plan delayed?

Initially, over-75s would have had to begin paying in June, but plans were pushed back to August in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

TV licences were deemed necessary in keeping over-75s (who are exorbitantly more at risk from the effects of Covid-19) informed as the pandemic spread.

Chairman of the BBC, Sir David Clementi, said at the time, "The BBC board has decided to delay changes to over 75s licence fees.

"We are in exceptional circumstances. Now is not the right time. We are fully focused on delivering our services to the public at this difficult time."

Could the fee be scrapped entirely?

Tim Davie - due to assume the role of BBC Director General in September - is said to be opposed to scrapping free licences, fuelling hopes things may stay as they are. But he face opposition from those who say the Beeb must make ends meet.

The corporation has been left with a £125 million shortfall as a result of coronavirus, and invited over 19,000 staff to apply for voluntary redundancy during the pandemic.

Those in support of free licences say the Government should pick up the cost.

Lord Foulkes, the chairman of the All-Party Group for Ageing and Older People, said, "The Government should cover the cost as a social benefit and not burden the BBC, which is already strapped for cash.

"We will continue to work on this vital campaign alongside the likes of Age UK, as well as a growing number of MPs and peers."

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Caroline Abrahams, the charity director at Age UK, said, "While many older people are being advised to stay mostly at home, or are too worried to go out, free TV licences for over-75s should continue.

"The last thing they need is to have to get to grips with a new TV licence scheme, or risk prosecution if they get it wrong."

Who will be affected?

If the plan for scrapping free licences goes ahead, the concession will be available only to households where someone receives Pension Credit.

To qualify for Pension Credit, you must live in England, Scotland or Wales and you or your partner must have reached State Pension age. Around 3.75 million pensioners will lose out, it is thought.

Free TV licences for over-75s were introduced by Labour PM Gordon Brown, and were first paid for by a Labour government in 2000.

A new BBC charter, which came into effect in 2017, agreed that the corporation would take on the burden of paying for free licences by June 2020. The Government stopped funding free TV licences for over-75s and gave the BBC the responsibility to decide on the future of the concession.

The 2017 Conservative manifesto contained a promise to continue the benefit.