Delay is to ease worry for pensioners during this uncertain time.
“The BBC board has decided to delay changes to over 75s licence fees. We are in exceptional circumstances. Now is not the right time. We are fully focussed on delivering our services to the public at this difficult time.” – Sir David Clementi, Chairman of the BBC
The corporation announced last year that from June 2020 any household with someone aged over 75 who receives Pension Credit would still be eligible for a free TV licence funded by the BBC however anyone else over that age without the credits would have to start paying for television services again.
The BBC Board said at the time it would be the ‘fairest option’ to help the poorest pensioners, adding they felt it was the fairest option for all licence fee payers. However those changes have been halted today due to the Coronavirus situation that may see many over 70 restricting their social activities, meaning ‘the company of television’ is now more important than ever.
“The BBC and the Government have been discussing the national Coronavirus situation. Changes to the TV licence for people aged over 75 had been due to come into effect on 1 June. But during this time we do not want anyone to be worried about any potential change.”
“The BBC’s priority over the coming period will be to do everything we can to serve the nation at this uniquely challenging time. As the national broadcaster, the BBC has a vital role to play in supplying information to the public in the weeks and months ahead.” – BBC Statement
The change of date, now provisionally set for August 1st, will see a eight week hold on the licence fee changes for pensioners.
The new pensioner TV scheme will cost the Beeb around £250 million by 2021/22 depending on the take-up of the Pension Credit offer. The cost will re-direct funds from programming and services, alongside continuing to find new savings while expanding its commercial revenue to cope the corporation noted.
“Recognising the exceptional circumstances, the BBC Board has therefore decided to change the start date of the new policy. Our current plan is to now bring it into place on 1 August. We will of course keep the issue under review as the situation continues to evolve.” – BBC Statement
The culture secretary Oliver Dowden added:
“I am pleased the BBC has worked with us and agreed to delay their licence fee changes for over 75s from coming in and will keep this under review. It will be welcome news to millions of older people who now don’t need to worry about their TV licence during this challenging period. It is right that the BBC have recognised the exceptional circumstances posed by the coronavirus outbreak and the need for the whole country to pull together in the national effort.”