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No more ‘jumping through hoops’ to get free TV licence

Paloma Kubiak
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Paloma Kubiak

It should be easier for low-income pensioners to apply for a free over-75s TV licence next year, following plans laid down in parliament today.

The government said the previous change to the free TV licence for the over-75s has left low-income pensioners “jumping through hoops” to avoid paying the £159 charge.

In reforms laid down in parliament today – but expected to come into force next year – it will be easier to apply for or renew a free TV licence, helping around 7,000 people each month.

Currently those eligible for a free over-75s TV licence are required to obtain and share proof with the BBC that they’re in receipt of Pension Credit.

Under the reforms, the BBC will be able to automatically verify whether someone applying for a free TV licence is on Pension Credit with the Department for Work and Pensions. It is expected that most will be able to apply online or by phone without needing to supply additional paperwork.

The government confirmed it would not be sharing customer data with the BBC, but instead will be verifying whether free licence applicants fit the BBC’s eligibility criteria.

Digital secretary, Nadine Dorries, said: “The BBC’s disappointing decision to stop providing free TV licences for all over-75s has left low-income pensioners who remain eligible jumping through administrative hoops to avoid paying the charge.

“The changes mean those receiving Pension Credit will get the savings with minimum fuss, ensuring more people get the support they are entitled to as we tackle the cost of living and grow the economy.”

In 2020 the BBC stopped providing free TV licences for all over-75s, but those in receipt of Pension Credit – a benefit which provides extra money for people on the state pension and on a low income – are still eligible.