BBC ends universal free licences for over 75s

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BBC director-general Tony Hall told MPs in 2018 that licence fees would be reviewed

The BBC's decision to axe universal free licences for over-75s was condemned by No 10 and age charities, who said that the unexpected bills would cause anxiety and distress.

But The Intergenerational Foundation, which aims to improve intergenerational fairness, said: "There is simply no reason why retired judges, lawyers, bankers and doctors should receive a free TV licence when younger generations are struggling financially".

According to her official spokesman, Prime Minister Theresa May was "very disappointed" with the BBC's decision and has urged it to look again at ways of supporting older people.

Does this new change affect you or someone you know?

This scheme will let customers spread the cost of their licence in fortnightly or monthly payments to make it easier to pay.

The BBC has confirmed free TV licence fees for over-75s are to be means tested.

The National Pensioners Convention (NPC) has also turned on the Government following the announcement, and condemned the BBC for attempting to frame the move as fair.

The contenders will face popular pressure to pledge to restore the universal concession. The policy of free TV licences for the over-75s was introduced in 1999 by the then Labour chancellor, Gordon Brown, with the cost met by the government, which paid the BBC to provide the service.

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The BBC promised a "simple and straightforward" process for claiming the benefit, using a "self-verification" system. Households with at least one person that qualifies for pension credit will still qualify for a free TV licence.

The BBC will launch an awareness campaign across TV and radio alerting pensioners to the change, which could encourage 600,000 low income households now not in receipt of Pension Credit, to take advantage of the weekly top-up.

Following a public consultation, the BBC decided that means-testing pensioners and giving free licences only to those on pension credit was the fairest way to implement the changes. 'I believe we have reached the fairest judgment after weighing up all the different arguments.

Extraordinarily, the Conservatives' 2015 broken manifesto pledge to keep the licence fee free for over-75s was copied and pasted word for word into the party's 2017 general election manifesto.

They will have to start paying £154.50 a year for the right to watch live television or access the BBC's iPlayer service.

The publicly funded broadcaster announced today that free TV licence fees for over-75s will soon be means-tested.

Campaign groups condemned the decision.

It is thought 1.5 million households will be eligible for the free licence under the new scheme, which will cost the BBC around £250 million by 2021/22 depending on the take-up.

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