Currently all households with people over 75 are entitled to a free TV licence. That Government-funded scheme – which is expected to cost £745m by 2021/22 – comes to an end in June 2020.
It is for the BBC to decide on any future scheme and to pay for it, and the Corporation has produced a consultation document with a range of options and a set of questions. You can read more about them here.
There are a range of options available:
- The BBC could copy the scheme, but that could cost around a fifth of their budget – the equivalent to what they spend today on all of BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC Four, the BBC News Channel, CBBC and CBeebies. That would mean over 75s would not have to pay, as at present, but it could fundamentally change the BBC because of the scale of service cuts they would need to make.
- Another option would be to restore the universal licence fee that existed in the past, meaning no concession. This would mean the BBC would not have to make significant cuts to BBC services, but would have an impact on those over 75s, particularly poorer pensioners, who currently do not pay.
Or the BBC could take neither of those choices and reform the scheme. There are different ways of doing this, including:
- Discounting the cost of a licence fee for older people. This would reduce the impact of cuts to BBC services, but would mean everyone over 75 would pay something, for example 50%.
- Raising the age from 75 to 80, which would reduce the financial impact on the BBC but keep free licences for the oldest households.
- Introducing means-testing – so that older people in greater financial need wouldn’t pay, but those who could afford it would. This would also reduce the impact on BBC services, while protecting the most vulnerable.
The consultation is open from 20 November 2018 to 12 February 2019.