BBC report found thousands of UK’s poorest pensioners will miss out on free TV licence under new plans

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A REPORT commissioned by the BBC warned that thousands of the UK’s poorest pensioners will miss out on the free TV licence under its plans to scrap the perk for over-75s.

Yet on Monday, the broadcaster announced that millions of pensioners who previously received it for free will have to pay the fee – currently £154.50 – from next June.

Millions of over-75s have to start paying for the TV licence from next summer
E+ – Getty

Only households where at least one person receives pension credit – around 900,000 currently – will not have to pay.

But 40 per cent of people who are entitled to the means-tested benefit aren’t getting it, according to charity Age UK.

Some don’t know they can claim, many struggle to apply and even more feel embarrassed about needing help, it added.

Frontier Economics, the consultancy employed by the broadcaster, warned the BBC in November that its plans would mean that only 11 per cent of the poorest tenth of households currently receiving the free TV licence would actually get to keep it.

It noted that the changes would lead to average income losses of 2.1 per cent among those pensioners who are the worst off.

The report also said that increasing the uptake of people who claim pension credit is “extremely challenging and little affected by a range of different incentives”.

How to watch TV legally without paying for a licence

IN the UK, any household watching or recording live television must hold a TV licence.

In recent years, this has been extended to include BBC programmes on iPlayer, whether they are live, catch up or on demand. But does everyone really need a licence? Here’s the lowdown on how to avoid paying – legally.

On demand TV – like catch-up TV and on demand previews – which are available through services like ITV Player , All4 , My5 , BT Vision/BT TV , Virgin Media , Sky Go , Now TV, Apple TV, Chromecast , Roku and Amazon Fire TV

On demand movies – from services like Sky, Virgin Media, BT Vision, Netflix and Amazon Instant Video

Recorded films and programmes – either via DVD or Blu-ray, or downloaded from the internet

YouTube – On demand video clips through services like YouTube

Earlier today, money guru Martin Lewis also slammed the BBC for choosing “the benefit that is one of the worst claimed benefits”.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “It is now crystal clear that many hundreds of thousands of the poorest older people will lose out – even the BBC’s own report says so.

“No one can now claim that the BBC’s plans will protect older people who cannot afford to pay because all the evidence shows they won’t.”

Ms Abrahams added that pensioners now face choices about whether they should give up their TV, cut back on eating and heating, or break the law by not getting a licence at all.

“The government should never have given the responsibility for the free TV licence to the BBC without the money to fund it and the mess we have now is the inevitable result,” she said.

The Sun contacted the BBC for a comment.


The decision by the BBC sparked outrage this week, and hundreds of thousands of Brits have signed petitions calling on the broadcaster to scrap its plans.

Furious viewers also cancelled TV licences in protest at the BBC axing the perk.

While charity Age UK warned even earlier that the extra bill could trigger “great worry and distress” to vulnerable pensioners.

But there are also ways to watch TV legally for free – here we explain how.

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