Much has been written about the BBC’s decision to halt the right to a free TV licence for the over 75’s and the general outcry that has arisen since it was introduced in August 2020. Clearly it has been seen as a divisive move and has undoubtedly had an impact on pensioners already struggling on fixed incomes.
The current licence costs £159 per annum and the fee must be paid by anyone watching live terrestrial television such as BBC, ITV and Channel 4. Those watching digital channels exclusively do not have to pay.
However, it is reckoned that 1.5 million over 75’s are still eligible to pay nothing. To see whether this applies to anyone in your family, families should check with the Department of Work & Pensions to see if older relatives are receiving Pension Credit. If they are, then the licence is free.
Pension Credit provides extra money to help with living costs for anyone over state pension age and can also help with housing costs. Separate from the state pension, anyone living in England, Scotland and Wales are eligible to apply, and the criteria for receipt of Pension Credit depends on income and savings. There are no automatic payments, eligible pensioners or their families must apply on their behalf to see if they qualify.
You will need :-
- The individual’s national insurance number.
- Information about income, savings and investments.
- Bank account details.
Applications can be made online (https://www.gov.uk/pension-credit/how-to-claim) if the person is already claiming the state pension, by phone, or by paper application, but the earliest an application for pension credit can be made is four months before reaching state pension age.
Pension Credit can top up weekly income to £177.10 for single people, and joint weekly income to £270.30 for married or co-habiting couples.
This could be an opportunity to help older relatives approaching or already in retirement to top up their income with Pension Credit, with the added bonus of a free TV license for the over 75’s who qualify.