The Future of Television Licences for over 75s

On Monday 10th June 2019, The BBC announced that from June 2020, the current government scheme offering free TV licences for over 75s will come to an end.
They explained that the changes were needed because since 2000, all households with people over 75 have been entitled to a free TV licence. This has been paid for by the Government, but in 2015 they announced that they would stop paying for it.
However, through an Act of Parliament, the Government gave the BBC the power to decide what happens next. Any new scheme would be decided on and funded, not by the Government, but by the BBC.
This means the BBC have had to make a really important and difficult decision. After June 2020, the cost of continuing with free licences for all over 75s would be £745 million a year and rising – which is around 20% of the BBC’s budget. That is a huge amount of money.
Were the BBC to meet these costs, it would in practice mean the closures of BBC Two, BBC Four, the BBC News Channel, the BBC Scotland Channel and Radio 5live – in addition to a number of local radio stations and other cuts and reductions. They know that audiences really value what they provide on TV, Radio and online – all of which are paid for by the licence fee. These changes would profoundly damage the BBC’s ability to serve our audiences of all ages. On the other hand, the BBC are fully aware that some older pensioners are in poverty and rely on their TV and the BBC for companionship. They didn’t want simply to abolish free licences for all older pensioners.
The BBC didn’t think that would be fair on those who would find it hardest to pay. Nor did they think it right to continue with a scheme that mirrored the Government’s, given the severe impact that would have on BBC services that are valued by everyone – old and young.
The BBC have therefore decided to introduce a new scheme. It is one that they believe represents the fairest possible outcome.
From June 2020, anyone aged 75 or over who receives Pension Credit will also be entitled to a free TV licence funded by the BBC. This will help the poorest pensioners who will continue to enjoy a free TV licence.
It’s important to stress that it is not the BBC who will make any judgements about poverty – that measure is set and controlled by the Government. As well as being fairest for the poorest pensioners, this scheme is also the fairest for all licence fee payers as it means everyone will continue to receive the best programmes and services that the BBC can provide.
This new scheme will cost the BBC around £250 million a year. This will mean they have to continue to find significant savings, but they are confident that they will be able to protect the funding for services the public tell them that they enjoy.
They want to make claiming the free licence simple and straightforward. Individuals will simply need to demonstrate their receipt of Pension Credit in order to qualify. If you’re over 75 and currently get a free licence, you don’t need to do anything yet.
You will carry on being able to get a free licence until June 2020.
TV Licensing will be in touch before then to tell you what you need to do. If you want to find out about our decision in more detail you can read all the relevant documents via the BBC website: www.bbc.com/aboutthebbc/reports/consultation/age-related-tv-licence-policy.