Coronavirus forces BBC to push back licence fee charge for over-75s

The BBC delayed the planned increase in TV licence fees for pensioners across the UK due to the coronavirus outbreak.

It has halted the plans to start charging over-75s for the TV licence, postponing it by two months until August 2020.

The BBC chairman said following the move today: "We are in exceptional circumstances. This is not the right time."

Millions of pensioners were told last year that they would start paying the £157.50 fee from June.

But, in a joint statement with the Government, the BBC has said that free licences will now continue into the summer August, when the situation will be reviewed.

The statement reads: “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.

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“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."

Sir David Clementi, chairman of the BBC, said: “The BBC board has decided to delay changes to over 75s licence fees. We are in exceptional circumstances. Now is not the right time. We are fully focussed on delivering our services to the public at this difficult time.’

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.

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“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."

Extending the scheme as far as August will reportedly cost the BBC an additional £85million.

  • BBC

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