The BBC has announced that changes to free TV licences for the over 75s will be delayed until August 2020, as a result of the Coronavirus epidemic.
Changes to the TV licence for people aged over 75 had been due to come into effect on 1st June, from when only those claiming Pension Credit would continue to get a free licence.
In a statement, which confirmed it had been in discussions with the Government, the BBC said its “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.”
“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.”
The BBC is still planning to make changes to those entitled to free TV licences after the cost of paying for them is no longer covered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Sir David Clementi, Chairman of the BBC, says:
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. 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.