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Age UK responds to Government's launch of a public consultation on whether to decriminalise TV Licence evasion

By: Age UK
Published on 05 February 2020 01:00 AM

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: “In less than four months’ time, millions of very old people are set to lose their free TV licence, leaving a sizeable minority on low incomes with the possibility of having to forego the pleasure and companionship they get from watching TV. 

“The vast majority of older people are model citizens and one of our biggest worries is that some of the most vulnerable will inadvertently break the law, for example due to chronic ill health, because they will be unable to comply with any new charging regime put in place. Whether the legal consequences are criminal or civil is immaterial, their personal distress will be the same. In our view it is disgraceful to expose very old people to even the risk of this happening.

“Similarly, if you are a pensioner in the position of struggling to pay an extra £157.50 a year for a licence, being able to spread out your payments will not change the fact that the sum is simply unaffordable on your low fixed income. Nor does this alter the fact that an entitlement that has been in place for a generation is being taken away through a private deal made by the Government and the BBC, with no public consultation - a shameful way to proceed.

“Whatever the future of the licence fee and it’s enforcement may be, we call on the Government and the BBC to agree a solution for our over-75s that preserves their free licences, which mean so much to so many.” 

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Last updated: May 26 2022

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Notes to editors:

A copy of Age UK's 'It Doesn't Add Up' campaign report can be found here

[i] Age UK. February 2022. Research briefing: Estimating the impact of the April 2022 energy price cap rise on older households in England. Age UK [Online]. Available at: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/globalassets/age-uk/documents/reports-and-publications/reports-and-briefings/safe-at-home/estimating-the-impact-of-the-april-2022-energy-price-cap-rise-on-older-households-in-england.pdf.

[ii] Age UK. May 2022. Research Briefing: Estimating the impact of rising prices on older households in the UK in 2022-23. Age UK [Online]. Available at https://www.ageuk.org.uk/globalassets/age-uk/documents/reports-and-publications/reports-and-briefings/safe-at-home/estimating-the-impact-of-rising-prices-on-older-households-in-the-uk-in-2022-23-may-2022.pdf.

[iii] Older households are defined as households with at least one person aged 60 or over.

[iv] ‘Over the next year’ refers to 2022/23.

[v] The snapshot survey was carried out online.

[vi] Those in receipt of Pension Credit, which can be backdated for three months and tops up the weekly income of a single pensioner to £182.60 or a pensioner couple to £278.70, (or higher in some circumstances) could also be entitled to the following:

  • A Cold Weather Payment of £25, paid automatically when the average temperature is 0°C or below over seven consecutive days
  • £140 off electricity bill thorough the Warm Home Discount Scheme, if eligible
  • A free TV licence (if also over-75)
  • Free NHS dental treatment and help towards the cost of glasses and travel to hospital
  • Help with Council Tax
  • Help with rent
  • Cheaper phone and home broadband deals
  • Reduced water bills
  • An extra amount of Pension Credit for some carers worth up to £38.85 a week.

For more information

Contact the Age UK Media team on 020 3033 1430 during office hours (Mon-Fri 08:30-17:30) or for out-of-hours media support please email media@ageuk.org.uk 

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