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TV licence 'transition period' for over-75s to end on Saturday - do you have to pay?

The 'transition period' for free TV licences for Peterborough's over-75s will end on Saturday.
The TV licence 'grace period' is ending for over-75s in Peterborough and across the country (Photo: Pixabay)

The universal right to a free TV licence has ended for the age group, meaning only those in receipt of pension credit do not have to pay.

Pensioners were given a grace period to make arrangements because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the BBC has confirmed this will come to an end on July 31.

The corporation said more than nine in 10 over-75s households have now made arrangements for a free or paid licence, or updated it on changes in their circumstances, which is in line with the broader UK population.

A statement said: “As we have now reached a situation where over-75s households are in line with the general population, the extended transition period we put in place due to Covid-19 will end on July 31 2021.

“And in line with general policy, anyone who watches or records live TV programmes on any channel, or downloads or watches BBC programmes on BBC iPlayer, must be covered by a valid TV licence.”

There are some concessions that could see fees eliminated or reduced for households.

  • People who are at least 75 years old and receive Pension Credit can claim a free TV licence
  • People who are blind or have a severe sight impairment can claim a 50% discount on their licence
  • People living in a care home or sheltered housing may be eligible for an Accommodation for Residential Care licence which costs £7.50. This is only needed if the resident watches TV in their own separate accommodation, not if they only watch TV in common areas such as a residents' lounge. Residents should speak to their warden or administrator to find out if the accommodation qualifies for this concession.

Letters have reportedly been sent out to around 260,000 people who have yet to report their circumstances.

In June, General Secretary of the National Pensioners' Convention (NPC) Jan Shortt expressed disappointment over the decision to end the transition period.

She said: “The NPC is worried that among those still to pay their licence fee will be frail and vulnerable people who simply cannot afford it, or who don’t know or understand how to pay - especially with many still frightened to go out, even after their Covid-19 vaccinations. 

“It is concerning that this age group of people could find themselves being put through the stressful court process.

“‘Customer care visits must be undertaken with extreme care and understanding. We urge the government to step in and stop all of this from happening.

“With pensioner poverty increasing, the NPC has always been concerned that those who are just above the Pension Credit threshold will potentially fall into poverty.

“Already these are the individuals making daily choices about the priorities on which they spend their money. Having to find money for a TV licence is just one more call on their limited resources.”

BBC director-general Tim Davie previously signalled that over-75s would not be threatened with legal action over non-payment.

Find out about eligibility for free licences or more about the change here.