Over-75s given time to pay BBC licence fee

Over-75s given time to pay BBC licence fee

The BBC has said it will give people over the age of 75 more time to pay their licence fee due to the pandemic.

The right to a free TV licence for the elderly ended last August for all except those in receipt of the pension credit benefit.

More than 2.7 million households with someone over 75 have now bought a licence, with 750,000 more applying for a free one under the new system.

However, the BBC said around one in seven have not yet made arrangements.

A spokeswoman denied reports that the corporation was introducing an amnesty on prosecutions for those who do not sign up.

“There is no amnesty, nor have we announced any new policy,” she said. “We are simply giving more people time to safely set up their licences in light of the pandemic.”

A BBC statement on Tuesday said: “We fully recognise this is a tough time for many people, which is why we are giving people plenty of time to get set up and there are payment plans available to help spread the cost.”

It also said no enforcement action had been taken against anyone who previously held a free over-75s TV licence.

Last week, former cricketer Lord Botham called for a pledge that no over-75s will be prosecuted for failing to pay.

Responsibility for TV licences for the over-75s was passed from the government to the BBC as part of the broadcaster’s last royal charter.

The BBC said continuing to fund free licences for all older viewers would have force it into “unprecedented closures” of services. But in 2019, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the BBC should “cough up” and cover the cost.

Last month, the government decided not to move ahead with plans to decriminalise non-payment of the TV licence fee, but said it would “remain under active consideration”.

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