'Two million over-75s' households still not told of TV licence removal' – poll


Nearly two million households are yet to be told they have been stripped of their free TV licences, campaigners revealed tonight.

The Silver Voices group published research showing hundreds of thousands of pensioners are yet to be formally told they need to pay to watch their favourite shows.

It polled 400 members aged over-75 asking if they had received a letter from TV Licensing asking them to pay for their licence from August 1, when means-testing was introduced.

Some 162 – equivalent to 39.23% – had not.

Silver Voices said this equated to about 1.8 million households UK-wide when the figures were broadened out.

The group said that when licences were bought they would still be backdated until August 1 – meaning that if an OAP only finds out on October 1 they need a licence and then buys one, they could need another from August 1, 2020, despite licences lasting a year.

Director Dennis Reed said: “Senior citizens were left in the dark by the BBC over when free TV licences would be scrapped and at one stage the BBC let it be known that they were considering delaying the implementation until October 1.

Silver Voices director Dennis Reed is campaigning to save free TV licences

“Instead they rushed the change, probably to take advantage of the easing of lockdown, but they clearly hadn’t got the necessary distribution system in place.

“In effect, TV Licensing is trying to steal free licence weeks to cover up its own incompetence.

“There is no way that hard pressed over-75s should lose six or more weeks of free licence in retrospect, and we are asking all seniors who get late letters to challenge the date on which the paid licence should start.”

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The Conservatives pledged at the 2017 election to protect over-75s’ free licences for the rest of that Parliament, which was due to run until 2022.

But the BBC had already been handed responsibility for funding the lifeline from June 2020, under a deal agreed in 2015.

The BBC was given responsibility in 2015

It said keeping licences free for all over-75s would cost £745million by 2021-22.

The corporation announced restrictions from August 1, meaning only over-75s who receive Pension Credit are eligible.

An estimated 3.7 million people have been robbed of the benefit.


Age UK charity director Caroline Abrahams said: “More than six weeks now after the BBC’s scheme was supposed to be introduced it’s clear that significant numbers of older people are yet to hear from the corporation about what they have to do.

Age UK charity director Caroline Abrahams

“Many older people are punctilious about keeping their financial affairs in good order and will be feeling considerable disquiet about the lack of contact to date.

“Another problem with this dribbling out of letters is that these late-comers will be faced with having to pay a couple of months of arrears, since their financial responsibility began at the start of August, and in addition the choices they will have about how to pay will be more complex than had they received a letter straight away.

“For older people on a low fixed income, who count every penny with care, this situation will add to the stress of managing to make ends meet.”

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Ministers have repeatedly blamed the BBC for axing the lifeline.

The Mirror has campaigned to save the benefit, with more than 18,000 readers backing the fight by completing coupons in the paper.

BBC director-general Tim Davie will meet campaigners in the coming weeks

We exclusively revealed last week that new BBC chief Tim Davie has agreed to meet campaigners battling to win back free TV licences.





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