Grahame Morris MP

Member of Parliament for Easington

Important Consultation: Should the UK Government stop funding free TV licences for people aged over-75

February 6, 2019 Blog 0

A BBC consultation asking the public what it should do when the UK Government stops funding the licence fees for people aged over-75 concludes on 12th February and I am encouraging people in East Durham to respond.

https://www.bbc.com/yoursay

Following the consultation, the BBC Board hopes to make a decision by the summer as any new scheme from June 2020 to provide TV licence concessions will be determined and paid for by the BBC, instead of the UK Government.

The options put forward in the consultation, alongside the financial and service implications are detailed below:

  • Copying the current scheme. That would mean around 4.64 million over 75 households would not have to pay, as at present, but we think it would fundamentally change the BBC because of the scale of service cuts we would need to make. The cost of this would be around £745 million in 2021/22 and would rise every year after, reaching an estimated £1 billion a year by 2029/30. Around £745 million is a fifth of the BBC’s budget – the equivalent to what we spend today on: BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC Four, the BBC News Channel, and the BBC’s children’s channels CBBC and CBeebies or more than the amount the BBC spends today on all its radio services or around the amount of money the BBC spends today on all its TV sport, drama, entertainment and comedy programmes
  • Restoring the universal licence fee that existed in the past. This would mean the BBC would not have to make significant cuts to BBC services, but would remove the concession from every household over 75, including the poorest pensioner households.
  • Discounting the cost of a licence fee for older people. This would reduce the impact of cuts to BBC services, but would mean everyone over 75 would pay something, for example 50%. The cost of the concession would be around £415 million in 2021/22. This would be the equivalent to a tenth of the BBC’s budget, or close to the cost of BBC Two; or around the cost of Radio 1, Radio 2, Radio 3, Radio 4, Radio 5 Live, Radio Scotland, Radio Wales, Radio Cymru and Radio Ulster
  • Raising the age from 75 to 80, which would reduce the financial impact on the BBC but keep free licences for the oldest households: around 2.77 million households. The cost of the concession would be around £481 million in 2021/22. This would be the equivalent to a little over a tenth of the BBC’s budget, or close to the cost of BBC Two and BBC Four; or around the cost of Radio 1, Radio 2, Radio 3, Radio 4, Radio 5 Live, and all of our local radio in England
  • Introducing means-testing by linking free licences to one of the UK Government’s measures of pensioner income, for example Pension Credit. This would mean around 900,000 households would receive a free licence, but others would pay the full amount. The cost of the concession would be around £209 million a year. This would be the equivalent to around 5% of the BBC’s budget, or roughly equivalent to the cost of BBC Four, CBBC and the BBC News Channel; or around the cost of Radio 1, Radio 2, Radio 3 and Radio 5 Live.

This decision is the responsibility of the BBC’s Board and I would encourage all those affected or with family members who will be affect to participate in the consultation:

https://www.bbc.com/yoursay

Anyone in your household over 75?

Auto renewal of TV licences have resulted in people aged over 75 being charged for TV licences. Over the last three years almost £38 million has been refunded to people who paid for a TV licence which should have been free.

Anyone wrongly charged can visit TV licensing to claim a refund:

https://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/check-if-you-need-one/refunds-and-cancellations/apply-for-a-refund