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BBC extends deadline for over-75s to buy a TV licence

Emma Lunn
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Emma Lunn

The BBC has given over-75s more time to set up a new paid-for TV licence after more than 650,000 households failed to respond to its letters.

The concession scheme for over-75s came to an end on 31 July 2020. From 1 August, the majority of people aged over 75 have needed to pay £157.50 for a TV licence which this age group previously enjoyed for free.

Free TV licences remain available to anyone aged over 75 in receipt of Pension Credit, paid for by the BBC.

As of August 2020, there were 4.2 million over-75 households with free licences that, under the new policy, needed to transition to new paid or free licences.

The BBC said that to date, more than 84% of customers have made TV licence arrangements. More than 2.7 million over-75s licences have been purchased and the BBC has had 750,000 free licence applications.

More than 1.8 million people, more than 65% of those who have bought a licence, have paid in one go, with the remainder set-up on affordable payment plans.

But about one in seven (16%) older customers are still to transition, either by buying a licence or claiming a free licence paid for by the BBC.

A BBC statement said: “We fully recognise this is a tough time for many people, which is why we are giving people plenty of time to get set up and there are payment plans available to help spread the cost.

“We have had to adjust our plans because of Covid-19 – ensuring customers have plenty of time to respond and creating new processes to help them get set-up from home.

“We have also had to adjust our internal processes because of the pandemic, taking account of staff working from home, increased levels of sickness and postal delays.”

The BBC admitted there had been “a small number of cases in which there has been a delay or the transition process has not been straightforward” and apologised to anyone who had encountered an issue.

No visits have been authorised to anyone who had previously held a free over-75s licence. This policy has been in place since August last year. All visiting is currently suspended in line with coronavirus restrictions.

The BBC also said no enforcement action had been taken against anyone who previously held a free over-75s TV licence.

The corporation also pointed out that people cannot be imprisoned for TV licence evasion. However, they can be imprisoned for non-payment of court fines, which can include fines associated with non-payment of a TV licence.

The TV licence fee rises to £159 from 1 April.