BBC to end free TV licence for over 75s from August 1 - after 2 months delay over COVID-19 pandemic

The hands of an elderly womanThe hands of an elderly woman
The hands of an elderly woman
The BBC is to go ahead with a plan to end free TV licences for most people 75-years and older, it has been reported.

The decision comes after a two-month delay because of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the BBC this means more than three million households will be asked to start paying the £157.50 fee from August 1.

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Only households where someone receives the Pension Credit benefit will still be eligible for a free licence.

The controversial change was originally due to be made on June 1 - and the BBC said the delay had cost £35m a month.

The cost to the BBC could have reached £1bn a year over time with an ageing population, according to the corporation.

It has previously warned that making no changes would lead to “unprecedented closures” of services.

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In 2019 there was an outcry when the broadcaster announced it would end the scheme for all but those receiving Pension Credit.

More than 630,000 people signed a petition set up by the charity Age UK, which called on the prime minister to take action.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Thursday before the latest announcement, Labour’s shadow culture minister Christian Matheson 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.”

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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.”

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