A free TV licence is available at present to any household with someone aged 75 or over living in it. The free TV licence has therefore been a form of welcome support for millions across the country. It means they are not required to pay the £157.50 per year cost to watch live television at home.
However, last year, the BBC announced the free licence would be scrapped for the over 75s, and now the prospect is to come to fruition.
From August 1, 2020, this group will now be required to pay for the licence, unless they are claiming Pension Credit.
The decision brought with it much controversy, as it means many pensioners will have to meet an additional payment to watch television at home.
The TV licence, while used to help fund the BBC, is applicable to live TV watched on any channel, and BBC iPlayer.
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“There are a number of people for whom this will be unwelcome news, people who have not paid up to now, but will do so.
“We know we have a loyal audience among the over 75s, and we think many of them will understand the position the board has found itself in.”
The decision to axe the free TV Licence, however, has been slammed by a number of well-known faces.
A number of British stars including Dame Helen Mirren, Sir Lenny Henry and Angela Rippon put their names to an open letter calling for the reinstatement of free TV licences for the over-75s.
The Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously expressed his displeasure with the decision, stating the BBC remains responsible for the concession.
But the Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, criticised the government for not doing enough to protect the free TV Licence.
He stated: “It’s simply not good enough for the Prime Minister to pass the buck and blame the BBC. The idea that you could take away so many people’s connection to the outside world is cruel.”
Sir Keir said many older people may be forced to choose between paying the licence fee and their heating bills come winter.
Simon Stanney, equity release director at SunLife commented on the changes due to take place.
Mr Stanney expressed concern for the households who will now be required to pay the licence fee.
He said: “Our research shows many pensioners are already living on quite tight budgets.
“A quarter of over 70s are worried about their financial future, 28 percent don’t think they’ve got enough money in their pension to cover their retirement while one in 10 don’t have any savings to fall back on.
“Therefore, for some, any changes to their day to day living expenses – such as having to pay for a TV licence from Saturday – could have a huge impact on their finances.
“TV can be an important source of entertainment for older people, so with the end to free licences coming in on Saturday, poorer households may have to make some tough budgeting decisions in order to keep it.”
Free TV licences from August 1 will now be reserved for people claiming Pension Credit.
This is a means-tested benefit available to those on a low income, and people can check their eligibility by visiting the government’s website or phoning the Pension Service.
It is thought millions do not claim Pension Credit when they are entitled, so Britons are encouraged to check in order to rescue their licence.