Introduction of TV licence fee for Harrogate's over-75s pushed back over coronavirus concerns

Plans to end the government funded free over 75s TV Licence scheme have been delayed over coronavirus.

Monday, 16th March 2020, 3:12 pm

The BBC had last year announced plans to bring an end to the scheme from June 1, 2020, meaning that over-75s who did not receive Pension Credit would not be eligible for the scheme.

The move had been widely criticised by charities, who said many older people were "dependant" on TV to keep in touch with the outside world.

The new fee for over-75s has been pushed back.

But it has today been confirmed that these plans have been pushed back by two months, as the government discusses plans to encourage over-70s to self-isolate for long periods.

In a joint statement, the BBC and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and & Sport said: “The BBC and the Government have been discussing the national Coronavirus situation.

“Changes to the TV licence for people aged over 75 had been due to come into effect on 1 June. But during this time we do not want anyone to be worried about any potential change.

“The BBC’s priority over the coming period will be to do everything we can to serve the nation at this uniquely challenging time. As the national broadcaster, the BBC has a vital role to play in supplying information to the public in the weeks and months ahead.

“Recognising the exceptional circumstances, the BBC Board has therefore decided to change the start date of the new policy. Our current plan is to now bring it into place on 1 August. We will of course keep the issue under review as the situation continues to evolve."

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "I am pleased the BBC has worked with us and agreed to delay their licence fee changes for over 75s from coming in and will keep this under review. It will be welcome news to millions of older people who now don't need to worry about their TV licence during this challenging period.

"It is right that the BBC have recognised the exceptional circumstances posed by the coronavirus outbreak and the need for the whole country to pull together in the national effort."