A REPORT commissioned by the BBC warned that thousands of the UK’s poorest pensioners will miss out on the free TV licence under its plans to scrap the perk for over-75s.
Yet on Monday, the broadcaster announced that millions of pensioners who previously received it for free will have to pay the fee – currently £154.50 – from next June.
Only households where at least one person receives pension credit – around 900,000 currently – will not have to pay.
But 40 per cent of people who are entitled to the means-tested benefit aren’t getting it, according to government estimates.
Some don’t know they can claim, many struggle to apply and even more feel embarrassed about needing help, said charity Age UK.
Frontier Economics, the consultancy employed by the broadcaster, warned the BBC in November that its plans would mean that only 11 per cent of the poorest tenth of households currently receiving the free TV licence would actually get to keep it.
It noted that the changes would lead to average income losses of 2.1 per cent among those pensioners who are the worst off.
The report also said that increasing the uptake of people who claim pension credit is “extremely challenging and little affected by a range of different incentives”.
How to watch TV legally without paying for a licence
IN the UK, any household watching or recording live television must hold a TV licence.
In recent years, this has been extended to include BBC programmes on iPlayer, whether they are live, catch up or on demand. But does everyone really need a licence? Here’s the lowdown on how to avoid paying – legally.
On demand TV – like catch-up TV and on demand previews – which are available through services like ITV Player , All4 , My5 , BT Vision/BT TV , Virgin Media , Sky Go , Now TV, Apple TV, Chromecast , Roku and Amazon Fire TV
On demand movies – from services like Sky, Virgin Media, BT Vision, Netflix and Amazon Instant Video
Recorded films and programmes – either via DVD or Blu-ray, or downloaded from the internet
YouTube – On demand video clips through services like YouTube
Earlier today, money guru Martin Lewis also slammed the BBC for choosing “the benefit that is one of the worst claimed benefits”.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “It is now crystal clear that many hundreds of thousands of the poorest older people will lose out – even the BBC’s own report says so.
“No one can now claim that the BBC’s plans will protect older people who cannot afford to pay because all the evidence shows they won’t.”
Ms Abrahams added that pensioners now face choices about whether they should give up their TV, cut back on eating and heating, or break the law by not getting a licence at all.
“The government should never have given the responsibility for the free TV licence to the BBC without the money to fund it and the mess we have now is the inevitable result,” she said.
A BBC spokesperson said: “Age UK is calling on the Government to restore funding for free TV licences for all over 75s.
“If the BBC were to fund free licences for all over 75s it would mean unprecedented closures of services and make the BBC substantially worse for all audiences, so we chose the fairest option by helping the poorest older pensioners.
“All the issues Age UK raises came up during our consultation and we considered them carefully.
“We want to raise the visibility of Pension Credit, which Age UK cites as one of the reasons why people don’t claim, and have already written to charities and older people’s groups to work together to do this.
“We have started a public information campaign which includes using our airwaves and writing to all 4.6 million households setting out the new scheme. We hope that pensioners will consider claiming as they could then be eligible for around £2,500 and other benefits as well as a free TV licence.”
The decision by the BBC sparked outrage this week, and hundreds of thousands of Brits have signed petitions calling on the broadcaster to scrap its plans.
Furious viewers also cancelled TV licences in protest at the BBC axing the perk.
While Age UK has warned even earlier that the extra bill could trigger “great worry and distress” to vulnerable pensioners.
But there are also ways to watch TV legally for free – here we explain how.
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