TV Licensing are encouraging people in financial difficulties in Northern Ireland to ask for help if they are struggling to pay for a TV Licence.
According to a new report from Christians Against Poverty (CAP), 8.3 million people in the UK live with problem debt, with an inability to afford household bills, keep up with repayments and meet the cost of servicing credit.
In Northern Ireland the average outstanding debt is £22,321 – the highest in the UK.
TV Licensing is therefore encouraging those who are struggling financially to seek help if they need a TV Licence but are worried about whether they can afford to pay for one.
A licence costs £150.50 for the year, but there are payment plans which make it possible to pay in smaller, more manageable chunks, including:
* Weekly cash payments, from as little as £6 a week. Licence fee payers can pay at PayPoint outlets, online, by phone or text message.
* Monthly or Quarterly direct debit.
TV Licensing is also trialling a new simpler payment plan which will be offered to customers most at risk of prosecution.
The cost of the licence fee will be evenly spread over the course of the year, in contrast to the first licence being bought in six months, as legislation requires for current instalment schemes.
The six month sign up period runs from 1 April to the end of September 2018. The trial plan will only be available to:
* people who have sought debt advice from certain charities, including CAP.
* those who have previously held a licence which was cancelled in the last six months because of missed payments.
* people who have been questioned under caution for TV licence fee evasion when visited by a TV Licensing enquiry officer.
Karen Grimason, spokesperson for TV Licensing in Northern Ireland, said: “If you’re faced with unexpected financial difficulties and sorting your TV Licence is still on the to-do list, organise it sooner rather than later. You can call 0300 790 6113 to talk it through with an advisor, or speak to a debt management organisation, such as Christians Against Poverty, for advice. We’re all here to help”.
Pól Callaghan from Citizens Advice Northern Ireland said: “Our research shows personal finance – and in particular managing outgoings – is something many people are very conscious of, particularly those living from month to month, and it’s only natural they want to keep on top of things. No one should need to worry about paying for a TV Licence.
"TV Licensing are a phone call away, and will help make the process as simple as possible. We are pleased to be working with TV Licensing to help our clients to meet this cost in a way that better fits their needs."