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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.” 

-- Ends --

Notes to editors

[1] An ‘older household’ for the purposes of the BEIS fuel poverty figures being used in the press release is defined as ‘a household where the oldest person is aged 60 or over’.

[1] Age UK calculation: Based on the End Fuel Poverty Coalition’s fuel poverty projections (available here: http://www.endfuelpoverty.org.uk/price-cap-methodology/) combined with BEIS statistics on the proportion of fuel poor households where the oldest person is aged 60+ (available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/fuel-poverty-statistics#2019-statistics).   

[1] Ibid

[1] BEIS, 2021. Annual Fuel Poverty Statistics in England, 2021 (2019 data). Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/fuel-poverty-detailed-tables-2021. [Accessed 03/11/21]. LILEE data, table 22.  

[1] https://www.gov.uk/cold-weather-payment

[1] https://www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme

[1] DWP (29 October 2020). Income-related benefits: estimates of take-up 2018-19: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/income-related-benefits-estimates-of-take-up--2  

[1] 25,681 people in total have told Age UK that they are worried about their energy bills. The time frame for campaigners saying they’re worried about bills is 21st Oct – 14th November 2021.

[1] To date, 6,536 Age UK campaigners have written to their MP to raise their concerns about energy issues. The timeframe for the MP action is Thursday 18th – Wednesday 24th  November 2021.

For more information

Contact the Age UK Media team on 020 3033 1430 (out of hours: 07071 243 243).

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Last updated: Nov 26 2021

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