Millions of pensioners to be notified about paying their TV licence after benefit axed.
Elderly people have been stripped of free licences – and campaigners warned some will find it difficult to navigate the changes.
Lizzy Buchan. Political Correspondent-Daily Mirror.
5TH AUGUST 2020
Millions of pensioners will be notified about how to pay their TV licence after the free entitlement was scrapped.
Millions of older people will begin receiving letters on how to pay their TV licence after the lifeline benefit was scrapped.
The BBC has brought in 800 extra staff members to deal with calls from pensioners who were stripped of the benefit on August 1.
People over 75 have been entitled to a free TV licence since 2000 but an estimated 3.7million elderly people will now have to shell out £157.50 a year to watch television and listen to BBC radio.
The BBC was forced to restrict free licences to people receiving Pension Credit after the Government handed the cash-strapped broadcaster the responsibility for footing the bill.
The Tories had previously promised to guarantee the benefit in the 2017 manifesto.
“The documentation the BBC has published today confirms us in our view.”
A BBC spokesperson said: “Over 75s households will start to receive letters about how to set up their new TV Licence from today.
“No one needs to do anything until they have received the letter – whether that’s paying or applying for a free licence – and no one needs to leave their home.
“There are now 800 specially trained agents working to support customers and we are also working with hundreds of money advice and community organisations to reach older people directly, so they understand what the changes mean.”
The National Pensioners Convention have been among campaigners protesting against the reimposition of the TV licence fee on the over 75s.
The Mirror has been fighting to save the free licence, with the decision to scrap it sparking a backlash from campaigners and pensioners.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said the BBC had provided detailed information on the changes but warned that some older people, such as those with dementia, would “get lost in the detail”.
“The over-75 population is hugely diverse so while some will no doubt navigate the documentation with ease, others may find this impossibly hard,” she said.
“At Age UK we’ve always said it was a mistake for the Government to pass responsibility for the free licence scheme to the BBC and that a replacement scheme, like the Corporation’s, that requires every single person over 75 to take some action was bound to be a problem and would in all likelihood end in tears.