OVER 75s will no long benefit from free TV licences from August 1, it’s been confirmed today.
The scheme had been due to end on June 1 but the corporation extended the free lifeline for millions of elderly Brits due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has seen many forced to stay at home.
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It was rumoured that the freebie may be extended again until October but today the BBC confirmed it would start to charge people from August 1.
Three million households will now be asked to start paying the £157.50 fee for a colour licence or £57 fee for a black and white licence from then.
The BBC says it will contact all current recipients by post to agree a payment plan if they want to continue to be covered by the licence fee.
It adds that no one will be expected to pay for a new licence until they have been contacted; letters will start being sent in August.
Only households where someone receives the pension credit benefit will still be eligible for a free licence.
The BBC says around 1.5million households are eligible for free licences due to getting pension credit and being over 75, but only 450,000 have so far applied.
If you get pension credit – the guarantee or savings element, or both – and you’re over 75, you can apply for a free licence now via your TV Licence online account.
As part of your application you will need to provide proof that you get pension credit, such as a photocopy of your confirmation letter.
You can also continue to apply for free a TV Licence if you’re 75 or over, or if you’re 74 and you’ll turn 75 before August 1, by completing and returning this form but this will only last until July 31.
It’s worth pointing out that this shake-up only applies to UK residents; the BBC hasn’t yet decided what to do about licences for over-75s in the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.
The government stopped funding the free licences for over-75s in 2015 handing the responsibility over to the BBC.
But the BBC last year announced it would also pull the plug on the initiative from June 2020.
The decision was met with widespread dismay with petitions calling for a U-turn attracting hundreds of thousands of signatures.
The Beeb claims the scheme would cost it £745million to run, which in practice would have meant the closures of BBC Two, BBC Four, the BBC News channel, the BBC Scotland channel, BBC Radio 5 Live, and a number of local radio stations.
BBC chairman, Sir David Clementi, said: “The decision to commence the new scheme in August has not been easy… The BBC could not continue delaying the scheme without impacting on programmes and services.”
Labour’s shadow culture minister Christian Matheson had earlier today warned that many pensioners could be “forced to choose between eating and watching TV”.
He said: “The BBC is cutting jobs and content to pay for the cost of the licence dumped on them by the government.”
Culture minister Matt Warman replied: “The fact is that the BBC has had a generous licence fee settlement and it is deeply disappointing that they have chosen to go down the path that they apparently are going down.”