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Over two million over-75s would have to go without TV or cut back on essentials such as heating or eating if free TV licences are scrapped

Published on 08 February 2019 12:00 AM

Over two million over-75s would have to go without TV or cut back on essentials such as heating or eating if free TV licences are scrapped

Age UK calls on the Government to take back funding responsibility for free TV licences for the over 75s

New research carried out for Age UK has found that over 40 per cent of people aged 75+ in the UK – equivalent to just over two million people – won’t be able to afford a TV licence or will have to cut back on essentials to pay for it if the concession for the over-75s is scrapped.

Of the 20 per cent who stated they could afford the TV licence but would have to cut back in other ways, a quarter (25 per cent) said they would have to cut back on heating and a fifth (20 per cent) said they would have to cut back on food to afford the extra bill which is set to rise from 1 April 2019 from £150.50 to £154.50 per year.

Through its Switched off campaign, Age UK continues to shine a light on the poorest pensioners who will be most affected by the proposed cut. Three in ten (29 per cent) over-75s live in poverty or just above the poverty line and recent analysis by the Charity revealed 50,000 pensioners could be pushed below the poverty line if the BBC decides to scrap free TV licences for over-75s.

With only days left until the BBC’s consultation on the future of free TV licences ends , Age UK is calling on the Government to urgently take back responsibility for the funding and administration of the free TV licences policy. Currently, free TV licences are funded by the Government but this responsibility was shifted to the BBC in a private deal without public consultation or the money to fund it from 2020.

Since its introduction in 2000, the free TV licence has been a valued universal benefit for the over-75s which provides entertainment, news and much needed company for many. Millions of older people, particularly those who are lonely or housebound with disabilities, rely on their TV as their trusted companion and window on the world.

In addition, Age UK’s research revealed 90 per cent of over-75s stated that older people like them should be able to keep their free TV licence – a view which is supported by Age UK.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: “TV is a source of great pleasure & comfort to many of the oldest people in our society & it’s a crying shame that millions could soon be faced with choosing between cutting down on food and heating or paying to continue to enjoy it. The Government created this problem and it is in their power to solve it: we urge them to stop hiding behind the BBC and accept their responsibility for free TV licences for the over-75s.”

Age UK is urging people of all ages to sign its national petition and share it via social media and word of mouth. The Charity launched its petition as part of its Switched Off campaign to save free TV licences for the over-75s, demanding that the Government takes back responsibility for funding free TV licences for everyone over the age of 75. To date, the Charity’s petition has reached almost 60,000 signatures.

Any older person who is worried about money and/ or losing their free TV licence can call Age UK Advice free of charge on 0800 169 6565, visit or contact their local Age UK for further information and advice.



Notes to editors:
Unless otherwise referenced, all statistics are taken from a face-to-face omnibus study carried out with a nationally representative sample of 1235 GB adults aged 65+ by Kantar TNS (9th -13th and 16th – 20th January 2019).

Age UK’s Switched Off: Save free TV for over-75s petition is here:

ii)Age UK calculation using TNS data and Mid-2017 Population Estimates UK Office for National Statistics, 2018. The exact estimate is 2,248,500 (41.6% of all 5,405,000 people aged 75+ in the UK)
iii)The current cost of a colour TV licence is £150.50 per year - this is set to rise by £4 to £154.50 from 1 April 2019
iv)Age UK calculation based on data from the Family Resources Survey, January 2019 – the exact estimate is 51,041 adults aged 65 and older. This includes all people aged 65+ living in households with a person aged 75+ and which therefore currently qualify for a free TV licence
v)The BBC’s public consultation closes on Tuesday 12th February, 2019:

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Last updated: Jul 18 2024

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