Free li­cences for over-75s are end­ing – what now?

As most older view­ers lose their en­ti­tle­ment, Pa­trick Collinson gives the low­down on ex­emp­tions, pay­ment plans and spot­ting scams

The Guardian - - Money -

To­day the 5 mil­lion peo­ple in the UK over the age of 75 lose their au­to­matic right to a free TV li­cence and many will have to pay £157.50 a year. But there are some ex­emp­tions, a new pay­ment plan for those who find the ini­tial bill too much – and a prom­ise from TV Li­cens­ing that you do not have to do any­thing un­til it con­tacts you.

The BBC’s plan was for over-75s to pay from the start of June but this was de­layed for two months by the coron­avirus out­break. The new pay­ment regime be­gins to­day.

How much is it?

The fee is £157.50 a year, payable as a lump sum an­nu­ally or in weekly, fort­nightly or monthly in­stal­ments.

There is no ex­tra cost to pay in in­stal­ments. If you choose to pay weekly, the cost is £3.06 for the first pay­ment, then £2.97 a week af­ter that. The fort­nightly cost is £5.83 af­ter a higher ini­tial pay­ment and monthly in­stal­ments are £13.12 each.

How do I pay?

TV Li­cens­ing will write to all over-75 li­cence hold­ers start­ing in Au­gust. “This let­ter will let you know what ac­tion you’ll need to take for your next li­cence,” it says, adding: “We’ll give peo­ple plenty of time to set up a pay­ment plan or to ap­ply for a free li­cence if they are el­i­gi­ble.”

Some peo­ple pay­ing for the first time will be wor­ried about pop­ping into the Post Of­fice to pay dur­ing the coron­avirus pan­demic. But you can make a pay­ment on­line with your debit or credit card at tvli­cens­ing. or call the 24/7 pay­ment line on 0300 555 0298 in­stead.

How do I get a free li­cence?

Some over-75 house­holds can still ob­tain a free TV li­cence. To qual­ify they need to be re­ceiv­ing pen­sion credit. It is a ben­e­fit for peo­ple who are on a low in­come and have reached the state re­tire­ment age, and is paid on top of the state pen­sion. The “guar­an­tee” el­e­ment of it can top up a sin­gle per­son’s in­come to £173.75 a week or a cou­ple’s to £265.20. But lots of peo­ple fail to ap­ply.

Pen­sion credit not only en­ti­tles you to a free TV li­cence. Even if you are only re­ceiv­ing a small amount, it may qual­ify you for help with hous­ing costs and coun­cil tax, au­to­mat­i­cally qual­i­fies you for the cold weather pay­ment and en­ti­tles you to claim fu­neral pay­ments. has an on­line guide to pen­sion credit, or call the pen­sion credit claim line on 0800 99 1234.

My mum’s in a care home. Does she have to buy a li­cence now?

If you are 75 or over and live in a res­i­den­tial care home, you may be cov­ered by an ac­com­mo­da­tion for res­i­den­tial care (ARC) li­cence. Un­der the scheme you will be el­i­gi­ble with­out the need to be in re­ceipt of pen­sion credit. Ask the care home if it has a li­cence that cov­ers res­i­dents too.

My dad is blind. Does he have to pay?

Any­one regis­tered as blind (se­verely sight im­paired) re­ceives a 50% con­ces­sion. But there is no dis­count if you are par­tially sighted.

I just lis­ten to the BBC ra­dio these days. Do I have to buy a li­cence?

No. Although the first BBC li­cences, when they were in­tro­duced in 1923, were for ra­dio, lis­ten­ers have been ex­empt since 1971.

Do I have to get a li­cence if I only watch Sky Sports and stream films from Net­flix?

You don’t need a TV li­cence if you only ever use on-de­mand ser­vices such as Net­flix or Ama­zon Prime. But if you watch or record any pro­grammes as they are be­ing shown on TV – and that in­cludes any chan­nel, such as Sky, or down­load­ing from BBC iPlayer – then you need to be cov­ered by a TV li­cence.

The TV Li­cens­ing web­site has a form you can fill in if you do not need to buy a li­cence.

I’ve been texted to ask for my de­tails to pay – is this real?

No. TV Li­cens­ing won’t ever text a cus­tomer to ask them to set up a pay­ment plan or for their bank de­tails, or to say that they are due a re­fund. These are texts sent by scam­mers, so ig­nore them. If you have al­ready set up a pay­ment plan, it may text you to ask you to make a pay­ment – log in through the web­site, rather than click­ing on a link.

Be care­ful of emails, too. The of­fi­cial mes­sages will in­clude your name and part of your post­code and come from donotre­ply@ tvli­cens­ The safest way to re­spond is by go­ing di­rectly to the web­site, rather than click­ing on links.

Be­ware of copy­cat web­sites. Only go to tvli­cens­


Most over-75s will have to pay £157.50 a year for their li­cence, un­less they re­ceive pen­sion credit

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