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Switched Off: Save free TV for older people

The BBC has announced it will go ahead with plans to end free TV licences for over-75s from 1 August. At Age UK we are bitterly disappointed by this decision and are urging the Government to sit down with the BBC urgently to keep TV licences free for over-75s.

For now, please keep checking the TV Licensing website to make sure you stay up to date with the latest information.

Stay safe from TV licence scams

As of this week TV Licensing have started sending letters to anyone aged over 75 asking them to either pay for their TV licence or apply for a free one. The letter TV Licensing sends will include your licence number, your title and your last name and they will only ask you to pay using the following options:

  • By post using the address TV Licensing, PO Box 578, Darlington DL98 1AN.
  • Online at tvl.co.uk/75pay or tvl.co.uk/75apply
  • Over the phone on 0300 790 615.

If you are contacted and asked to pay for your TV licence using a different phone number, a different website or by posting your details to a different address, this is a scam. TV Licensing will not come to your doorstep to collect the licence fee if you are over 75, so anyone who claims to do so is also a scammer.

If you’re unsure about anything, you can call TV Licensing on 0300 303 9695 to speak with someone who can help.

Make your voice heard

Add your voice to the thousands that have already emailed the BBC and Government about this change. Together we can still save free TV licences for the over 75s.

What's happening?

For over a million of the oldest people in our country, television is their main form of company. Right now, that’s under threat.

The BBC has announced they plan to means test TV licences for the over 75s. That means they'll only be free for people receiving Pension Credit. We believe this change will harm millions of older people who rely on their TV and the most vulnerable will be forced to cut back on essentials to make end meet, or lose out on TV altogether. 

It’s time for the Government to step in and the BBC to step up to save free TV licences for over 75s.

Read our Parliamentary briefing

Why means testing isn't the answer

Many people who are most in need of a free TV licence would lose it under a means-tested system. 

The most in need often miss out

Under new plans, only older people who receive a benefit called Pension Credit will receive a free TV licence. But two fifths of people who are entitled to this benefit – about 1.2 million pensioners – aren't getting it. Some don't know they can claim, many struggle to apply and lots more feel embarrassed about needing help. These people are some of the poorest in our society. 

People who are barely scraping by will suffer

Lots of older people have struggled throughout their working life to save a little extra for retirement. But that small pot of savings for a rainy day means they don't qualify for means-tested benefits. Others are coping with the costs of ill-health or disability. Taking their free TV licence away is a cruel blow. 

How will older people be affected?

Removing older people's access to TV would be an unthinkably cruel blow when many are already facing huge challenges. Quotes on this page are from real people who'd be affected by the decision. 

  • Half of all over 75s are living with a disability, and many rely on their TV for companionship and entertainment.
  • For those who don't have the internet, TV lets them stay up to date with what's happening in the world.
  • Nearly a third of over 75s are living in poverty or just above the poverty line. Paying a hefty extra bill would simply be impossible when they're barely scraping by as it is.
  • Our research shows that more than 2 million over 75s will have to go without TV or cut back on heating and food if free TV licences were scrapped.

"I have had a stroke and I am housebound. TV is my main pleasure. Don't do this to us please."

What older people are telling us

We've received thousands of responses from people across the country who are worried about losing their TV licence, or are concerned for others who may be affected.

Their words are a powerful reminder that, for many people, TV is so much more than just 'background noise'.

"In my advancing years I have to spend longer hours at home, so watching TV is not just a pastime but a necessity. TV is my "life support machine!" I am convinced it ought to be free for people on low income and particularly so for the over 75s. I do hope the proposition will be rescinded."

"I am on a small pension and if it came to a choice between food and TV, I would lose out and become isolated and alone. TV keeps me company."

Worried about the planned changes to TV licences?

To be eligible for a free TV licence under the planned changes, people will need to be claiming Pension Credit. Find out more about what this might mean for you, and check whether you're eligible to make a claim for Pension Credit.

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Last updated: Aug 05 2020

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