Europe

Thousands of pensioners could be missing out on a free BBC TV licence without realising

BBC licence fee: Battle 'not weakening' says campaigner

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Over-75s were entitled to a free television licence up until August last year, when pensioners were then forced to cough up the annual charge due to budget cuts. However, those who receive Pension Credit can still claim a licence for free by registering with the TV licensing board. Guy Opperman, Minister for Pensions and Financial Inclusion, Department for Work and Pensions, recently urged those who are eligible to ensure they don’t miss out.

It comes after the DWP released figures showing about two in five Britons who are legible are not claiming the benefit.

He said: “Anyone can use the Department for Work and Pension’s free online Pension Credit calculator to check eligibility and get an estimate of what they might receive.

“If the calculator shows you might be entitled, or even if you aren’t sure, then I strongly urge you to make a claim – this can be easily done online.

“Or you can call the DWP Pension Credit Freephone claim line on 0800 99 1234, or apply by post.

“Organisations such as Age UK or your local Citizens Advice Bureau can also help you to claim.

“So, please, if you have a relative or are caring for someone help them make a claim.

“Even a small amount of Pension Credit can open the door to a wealth of other support including a free TV licence, help with council tax, housing benefit, NHS dental treatment and the Warm Home Discount.”

There are certain rules around this, however.

If a person is currently paying the licence, but their partner is the one with Pension Credit, they will likely need to change the licence to their name.

And if an eligible person has been still been paying the licence fee by mistake rather than taking advantage of a free one, they can apply for a refund.

The TV licensing board has also it will process this as part of their application for a free one.

To be eligible, a person’s weekly income must be less than £177.10 or a joint income must be less than £270.30 for those with a partner.

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The licence fee also increased from £157.50 to £159 in April.

The black and white licences also rose from £53.00 to £53.50.

Earlier this year, Dennis Reed, director of the Silver Voices campaign group, called on the Government to stop the charges for older people.

He said: “The BBC is calling the people carrying out these visits ‘customer support officers’ but their job is to enforce payment.

BBC licence fee 'no longer fit for purpose' says expert

“They will be asking people why they haven’t got a licence.

“Clearly, the BBC is not going to do anything other than enforce the licence fee.

“It is now time for the Government to act.”

Former England cricket captain Lord Botham also lashed out at the corporation for charging pensioners licence fee payments.

In a new letter to The Telegraph, Lord Botham wrote: “Viewers can see that the moral crime here is that the BBC has broken its promise to the over-75s that it would pay for their licences.

“A grassroots revolt against the licence fee is underway, and it is being led by pensioners. The BBC is one scandal away from a wholesale licence fee rebellion.”

Meanwhile, the corporation’s recent annual report for 2020/21 showed it made £3,750 million from the annual TV licence.

The report also showed the extra licence fee payments from pensioners helped contribute to a rise of £250million from last year.

Express.co.uk has contacted the BBC for a comment.

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