TV licence fee changes for over-75s delayed because of coronavirus
The BBC board and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) said changes to the TV licence for people aged over 75 would be pushed back from 1 June to 1 August 2020.
Last year the BBC announced it would end free TV licences for all over-75s unless they received Pension Credit. It came after the government handed responsibility of the benefit to the BBC in June 2015.
With TV licence fees due to rise from 1 April, pensioners would be forced to pay £157.50 for the benefit currently enjoyed for free.
A joint statement said: “The BBC and the government have been discussing the national coronavirus situation.
“During this time we do not want anyone to be worried about any potential change.
“The BBC’s priority over the coming period will be to do everything we can to serve the nation at this uniquely challenging time. As the national broadcaster, the BBC has a vital role to play in supplying information to the public in the weeks and months ahead.
“Recognising the exceptional circumstances, the BBC Board has therefore decided to change the start date of the new policy. Our current plan is to now bring it into place on 1 August. We will of course keep the issue under review as the situation continues to evolve.”
Steven Cameron, pensions director at Aegon, said the fee licence changes could have fallen right in the middle of a four month period when over 70s are facing being confined to their homes.
“In this time of unprecedented self-confinement, it’s particularly welcome that the BBC have delayed the planned changes, offering reassurances to the elderly that they won’t face losing this important lifeline to the outside world. However, the deferral is only for two months until 1 August and we’d hope this will be extended if the elderly are still then being asked to self-isolate,” he said.