Free TV licence: Millions affected in 1 week – pensioners fight to save entitlement

Free TV licences are currently available to any household with someone aged 75 or over living in it. This has been a form of welcomed support by many people across the country. As a result, this group has not been required to pay the £157.50 per year cost to watch live television at home. 

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However, last year, the BBC announced it would be scrapping the free TV licence for those over 75.

From August 1, 2020, the perk will now only be available to people over 75 who are claiming Pension Credit. 

This has caused much debate over the past few months, as the date for change draws ever closer.

And now it appears the disagreement is to be pursued further. 

In line with similar actions taken in the past, a group of pensioners will be organising a rally to protest the incoming changes.

The National Pensioners Convention (NPC), the largest pensioner organisation in the UK, is to hold a rally outside of Downing Street next week to protest changes.

Pensioners will be socially distanced, and wear masks and gloves for their protection.

The organisation has put together similar protests in the past, after news of the changes to the licence fee first broke.

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However, with the alteration a mere week away, this could be the final push before changes come into effect.

Jan Shortt, the general secretary of the NPC, told the Mirror: “We are disappointed that the government has not stepped in to stop the BBC reimposing the licence fee on our oldest, who can’t afford it because they are struggling to make ends meet on the basic state pension as it is.”

Those who are shielding have been encouraged to protest at home, or post pictures and videos to social media.

The changes to the free TV licence were first announced by the BBC in June 2019.

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The reasoning given by the broadcasting corporation for the changes was that funding the free licence would result in “unprecedented closures”. 

BBC Chairman Sir David Clementi said at the time that although the decision was difficult, it was fair. 

He added: “This has been a very difficult decision, and we’ve thought about it extremely hard.

“There are a number of people for whom this will be unwelcome news, people who have not paid up to now, but will do so.

“We know we have a loyal audience among the over 75s, and we think many of them will understand the position the board has found itself in.”

From August 1, onwards, free TV licences will be reserved for those on Pension Credit.

The means-tested benefit is available to those on a low income, but it has been found many do not claim the benefit, even if they are entitled to do so.

Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis said up to 1.2 million households are currently likely to be missing out on Pension Credit, and thus potentially a free TV licence as a result.

Those who do wish to determine their eligibility and apply to save their free licence can do so by visiting the government’s website or phoning the Pension Service.

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