Up until August 2020, all over 75s had the £159 BBC licence fee waived meaning more than 5.3 million properties, who had at least one pensioner aged 75 living at home, benefited. Now, fewer than 890,000 pensioners qualify for a free TV licence although figures show that thousands of those aren’t claiming.
Rising living costs have seen people forced to make the impossible choice between heating and eating.
While pensioners are struggling to make ends meet amid the cost of living crisis, campaigners are reigniting calls to scrap the TV licence fee.
Anyone who watches live programmes on any channel will need a TV licence costing £159 a year.
However, people over the age of 75 who qualify for Pension Credit from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) could get it for free.
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Who qualifies for Pension Credit?
Pensioners could be entitled to Pension Credit from the DWP if they are earning less than £177.10 per week.
It’s worth applying as, even if it means they only get a small top up, it also means people qualify for a free TV licence.
Anyone who qualifies for Pension Credit should also be entitled to help towards energy bills and council tax.
A TV Licensing spokesperson said: “We want to help customers remain correctly licensed and we continue to work with groups throughout the UK which support people who fall into financial difficulty.
“There are payment plans available to help spread the cost, and anyone 75 or over who receives Pension Credit is eligible to apply for a free licence paid for by the BBC”.
“You don’t need a TV Licence if you only ever use Netflix or other online TV services to watch on demand or catch up programmes, except if you’re watching BBC programmes on BBC iPlayer.
“If you only watch on demand programmes on Netflix and don’t watch TV live on any TV or streaming service, and don’t watch BBC iPlayer, you may cancel your TV Licence if you won’t need it again before it expires.”
Some 850,000 pensioners are thought to be missing out on Pension Credit, something the DWP is trying to rectify.
It has recently launched a new campaign, encouraging people to check in on retired loved ones to see if they qualify.
Minister for Pensions Guy Opperman said: “We recognise the challenges some pensioners will be facing with the cost of living which is why promoting Pension Credit is a priority.
“That’s why we’re calling on everyone with retired family, friends and loved ones to check in with them and see if they can get this extra financial support.
People can speak to their local benefits office or go to Gov.uk where there’s a handy benefits calculator.