Free TV licences for most people over 75 will end this week. From 1 August the only over-75s to get them free will be those who get Pension Credit, a means-tested benefit for pensioners on low incomes – below about £208 a week for a single person or £304 for a couple. Disabled people or carers can claim with slightly higher incomes. Savings over £10,000 reduce the amount that can be claimed.
Around 600,000 people aged 75 or over who could claim Pension Credit do not do so, and they will have to pay for their £157.50 licence, the same as much betteroff pensioners. They should claim by calling 0800 99 1234. Even a penny a week of Pension Credit brings entitlement to a free licence.
In August, TV Licensing will send letters to people who currently get a free TV licence explaining what to do. No one should worry or take any action until that letter is received. People who have not told TV Licensing they get Pension Credit will be told how to pay. That can be weekly, fortnightly or monthly if they cannot afford
to pay the £157.50 in one go. They will also be told how to register for a free licence if they already get Pension Credit. Fewer than half of the 922,000 over-75s
who get Pension Credit have registered for a free licence. People without a bank account or credit card will have to pay in cash at a shop with PayPoint or get someone to do it for them.
Free licences for over-75s were introduced by Gordon Brown in November 2000, paid for by the Department for Work and Pensions. In 2015, the Government decided the BBC should pay and from April 2020 the full cost, over £750m ayear, was passed to it. The BBC says that would mean closing TV channels and radio stations; the new scheme will cost a third of that.
For more information, go to tvl. co.uk/age or call 0800 232 1382; or visit paullewismoney.blogspot.uk and search “licence”.
Paul Lewis presents Money Box on R4