The BBC has confirmed that it will be ending free TV licences for most over 75s from 1st August 2020, after two months of delay due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The BBC announced that it will begin a new scheme moving forward:
◘ Implementation of the new scheme will be coronavirus 9 safe. No one needs to take any immediate action, or leave their home, to claim for a free TV licence or pay for one
◘ 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
◘ The BBC has set up specialist telephone contact centres to help people. People can also go online
The BBC has been working with a range of external organisations to help support people during this time
BBC Chairman, Sir David Clementi, says: “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.”
The Government took the decision to stop funding for free licences in 2015 and Parliament – through legislation – gave the responsibility to the BBC Board to make the decision on the future of the concession. At the time of the settlement in 2015, both Government Ministers and the BBC were clear that reform of the concession was a possibility; and no pledge was made by the BBC that the concession would be continued.