A “sad day for our older population” as universal free TV licence comes to an end for over-75s
From today – August 1 – thousands of older people will be forced to start paying for their TV Licence.
It’s a move which Age UK described as “another kick in the teeth for older people during a terrible year when so many have been battling loneliness, bereavement and the fear created by the coronavirus pandemic.”
Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, said: “This is a sad day for our older population, many of whom are feeling badly let down by both the government and the BBC over the demise of these free licences.”
She said “more than half a million of the poorest pensioners will still have to pay for a licence, cut spending on other essentials like food or heating, give up TV altogether or keep watching without a licence, in breach of the law” because they still do not qualify for pension credit.
“It is deplorable that any older person should have to make such a horrible choice.”
The BBC has said that it cannot afford to continue the universal entitlement.
Who is eligible for a free TV licence?
The free TV licence for over 75s is now means-tested and will be available to people who receive Pension Credit.
To apply or continue to get a free licence, you will need to;
- be over 75 years-old (you can apply from aged 74)
- provide evidence that you are in receipt of Pension credit. This can be either Guarantee Credit, Savings Credit, or both (see below for more detail on types of Pension Credit.)
Many people who are eligible for Pension Credit do not currently claim it. According to the Department of Work and Pensions up to 1.3 million pensioners are failing to claim Pension Credit, and 2 in 5 of those entitled to Pension Credit do not receive it.
With this in mind, it is important to find out whether you are eligible to claim. Even if you can only claim a small amount it is worth claiming Pension Credit as it can enable you to qualify for other benefits, including a free TV licence from August 2020.
What is Pension Credit?
Pension Credit, also known as State Pension Credit, is a benefit for people who are on a low income and have reached the state retirement age.
Pension Credit has two parts, Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit:
- Guarantee Credit tops up your weekly income to a guaranteed minimum level (£173.75 for single claimants and £265.20 for couples per week), plus ‘premiums’ – see below for more.
- Savings Credit is extra money for people aged 65 and over who have extra savings or investments. No new claims for Savings Credit have been taken since April 2016, but people who already receive it will continue to do so.
The free TV licence for people over 75 applies to people in receipt of either part of Pension Credit – Guarantee Credit or Savings Credit (or both).
Pension Credit aims to make sure everyone of qualifying age has a certain amount of income every week.
It’s important to note that things like Attendance Allowance, Personal Independence Payment or Disability Living Allowance are not included as ‘income’ for this purpose.
The Minimum Guarantee is the minimum amount of money that the Government has said you need to live on if you are over state pension age. However, it can vary according to your circumstances. Additional amounts or ‘premiums’ can be added to this figure for example if you have a severe disability or caring responsibilities.
Who can get Pension Credit?
Pension Credit is available for people over the state pension age, who live in England, Scotland or Wales. It is a good idea to have a benefits check to make sure you are getting everything you are entitled to.
If you are going to become eligible for Pension Credit in the future (e.g. coming up to state pension age or about to have a drop in income) a claim can be made up to four months in advance of this change. Pension Credit can also be backdated for up to three months if the qualifying conditions are met.
Before 15 May 2019, Pension Credit could be paid if you had reached pension age but your partner had not. Those mixed age couples will continue to receive Pension Credit and a free TV licence may be granted if one of you is over 75.
If you are a mixed age couple who didn’t claim Pension Credit before 15 May 2019, you will have to be assessed for Universal Credit to get this extra income, which doesn’t qualify you for a free TV licence.
How can I find out how much I am entitled to?
You can visit the Government Pension Credit calculator to find out how much you are entitled to and whether you are eligible.
Further help you are entitled to with Pension Credit
People awarded Pension Credit even at a low rate could also get help with other things, such as:
- help with housing costs and council tax.
- entitlement to claim Funeral Payments and have access to budgeting loans/advance payments.
- automatically qualifying for Cold Weather Payment as well electricity bill discounts from their supplier via the Warm Home Discount scheme.
- exemption from health care charges including free NHS dental treatment, help towards the cost of glasses and travel to hospital.
- from August 2020 a free TV licence for people over 75.
How to apply for Pension Credit
What you’ll need
- Your national insurance number.
- Information about income, savings, pensions and investments.
- The details for the account you want the money to be paid into.
How to get in touch
- Call the Pension Credit claim line on freephone 0800 99 1234 (text 0800 169 0133) Monday to Friday 8am-6pm.
- Visit your local Pension Service office – they may be able to arrange a home visit if you need one.
- Find your pension centre to make enquiries about State Pension or Pension Credit
Alzheimer’s Society always recommends people with dementia and carers have a full benefits check. You can visit your nearest Citizens Advice. Or get in touch with your local Age UK to get expert support with claiming benefits.
How to apply for your free TV licence
After you’ve started receiving Pension credit, you will be eligible for a free TV licence if you are also 75 or over. This will not happen automatically, so you will need to apply for it.
Visit the TV Licensing website to apply for your free TV licence. You will need;
- your date of birth
- your National Insurance number
- proof that you are receiving Pension Credit
Need more help?
See the FAQs on TV Licensing’s website for more answers to common questions about the free TV licence for over 75s.
TV Licensing has also launched a free telephone information line for older customers and their relatives. To access recorded information on the new policy and advice to customers, call 0800 232 1382.
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