People over the age of 75 will no longer automatically be eligible for a free TV licence, the BBC has announced.
This will mean that up to 3.7 million people over the age of 75 will have to start paying for their TV licence from June 2020.
In 2015, the government announced that the BBC would take on the cost of providing free licences by 2020. However, the organisation revealed that this would cost it one-fifth of its budget by 2021/22, amounting to some £745 million.
The BBC stated that if it were to fund free licences for all over-75s, it would have led to “unprecedented closures”. BBC Two, BBC Four, the BBC News channel, the BBC Scotland channel, Radio 5live and several local radio stations would all have been at risk of closing.
Those who are currently receiving a free TV licence have been told that they will remain covered until May 2020 and that they don’t need to take any action at present.
A phone line will be set up for pensioners and their relatives to ask any questions, while TV Licensing has said it will write to everyone concerned to explain the new scheme, which will still provide free licences to those on pension credit.
While there has been outcry from some over the decision, the Sun reported that it could have benefits for many of the poorest pensioners.
Government figures estimate that 650,000 households that are eligible for pension credit haven’t signed up for it. However, since the BBC’s announcement over the licence fee, Age UK revealed it’s been inundated by people asking how they can claim pension credit.
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