TV licence: Dennis Reed criticises ‘stupid’ BBC plan
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TV licence payments usually cost £159 per year, and the fee must be met by anyone who is choosing to watch live television in the home. It does not matter whether this is via the BBC or another channel, but those who only watch television via apps such as Netflix or Amazon Prime will not have to pay. Rules surrounding the TV Licence, however, recently changed meaning more people will now need to get their affairs in order to meet the payment, otherwise cancel their licence fee accordingly. The alteration has most palpably impacted those who are over the age of 75, a group who were previously able to get a free TV Licence meaning the annual fee did not have to be met. However, from August 2020, many older people were required to start the process of paying to watch television in the home.
The decision was made, the BBC states, following a public consultation, with then-Chairman of the BBC, Sir David Clementi, saying the decision to start the new scheme had “not been easy”. But he added the corporation would be unable to delay the new policy “without impacting on programmes and services”.
The only exception to the rule is now those who are over the age of 75 and in receipt of Pension Credit, a benefit which is currently overseen by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to help those over state pension age.
It is estimated around 1.5million households could be entitled to a free TV licence if someone is over 75 and is in receipt of the sum from the Government.
So, what is Pension Credit? Who can apply for the sum? How much does it provide? And what benefits can it entitle a person to? Express.co.uk has broken down the key facts it will be important for individuals to note.
State pension warning as 1.5million Britons miss out on free TV licence – act now (Image: Getty)
The Government explains: “Pension Credit gives you extra money to help with your living costs if you’re over State Pension age and on a low income. Pension Credit can also help with housing costs such as ground rent or service charges.”
Pension Credit is separate from a person’s state pension that they should expect to receive once they have hit an eligible age – currently set at 66. Individuals can get Pension Credit even if they currently have other income, savings, or own their own home.
To be eligible for the payment, a person must live in England, Scotland or Wales. If they have a partner, this individual must be included on the application if a person is living with them.
When applying for Pension Credit, a person’s income is calculated, and this may include that of their partner if they are living together. It will top up weekly income to £177.10 for single people, and joint weekly income to £270.30 for those in a partnership. This is known as Guarantee Credit.
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A number of items count as income including the state pension, other pensions, earnings from employment and self-employment, as well as most social security benefits – Carer’s Allowance being one of them. But not all benefits are counted as income and thus pensioners are encouraged to check this matter with the DWP when applying.
If a person has £10,000 or less in savings and investments, then this will not affect their Pension Credit. However, every £5000 over this amount counts as £1 income per week. For example, if a person has £11,000 in savings, this will count as £2 of income a week.
Those who have savings or a second pension behind them could be entitled to the Savings Credit element of Pension Credit if they reached state pension age before April 6, 2016, and saved some money towards their retirement. This, for instance, could be in the form of a personal or workplace pension.
Individuals in these circumstances will get up to £14.04 Savings Credit a week if single, and £15.71 a week if they have a partner. Some may still get a part of Savings Credit even if they do not get the Guarantee Credit part of the sum.
State pension: TV licence payments across Europe (Image: EXPRESS)
But the benefit could also entitle Britons to further levels of support. Aside from a free TV Licence, Pension Credit recipients may also receive:
- Housing Benefit
- Support for Mortgage Interest
- Council Tax Reduction
- Help with NHS dental treatment, glasses, and hospital transport costs
- Help with heating costs
Pension Credit is paid on a regular basis to those who are eligible to receive it. Britons can expect the sum to be paid into their account of choice, for example a bank account, building society account or a credit union account. This, of course, depends on what they specify to the DWP.
People will be able to start an application for Pension Credit up to four months before they reach state pension age. They can apply any time after reaching state pension age, but should note an application can only be backdated by three months. This means individuals can get up to three months of Pension Credit in their first payment if they were eligible during that time.
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Britons will need to provide the following information about themselves, and their partner if they have one, when making an application:
- National Insurance number
- Information about any income, savings and investments they have
- Information about their income, savings and investments on the date they want to backdate their application to (usually three months ago or the date they reached State Pension age)
Those who are making an application for Pension Credit will also need to provide their bank account details if they are choosing the apply by phone or by post
The online service, however, is deemed the most efficient way of a person applying for Pension Credit. This can be used by those who have already applied for their state pension, and if there are no children or young people included in the application.
To apply by phone, Britons must contact the Pension Credit claim line, but to apply by post, they will need to print out and fill in the Pension Credit claim form. They can then send the completed form to the Pension Service for review.
Pensioners do not have to apply for Pension Credit alone. In fact, they may be able to receive assistance with the form. This includes organisations such as Citizens Advice or Age UK who are there to offer help if required.