Campaigners are urging over-60s to cancel their TV licence payments - here’s why

Millions of over-75s are being asked to pay a license fee to fund the BBC's output. (Photo: Shutterstock)Millions of over-75s are being asked to pay a license fee to fund the BBC's output. (Photo: Shutterstock)
Millions of over-75s are being asked to pay a license fee to fund the BBC's output. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Campaigners are asking Brits over 60 to cancel their TV licence fee direct debits in solidarity with over-75s who are losing their free licence.

Millions of over-75s are being sent letters asking them to pay the £157.50 bill for a yearly TV licence after free licences for this age group were scrapped last week.

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The BBC, which is funded by the licence fee, has reportedly hired 800 licence fee "agents" to enforce payment of the annual fee by the over-75s who are now liable.

Since 2015, this age group had been exempt from paying the annual fee.

Campaigners from Silver Voices, a membership organisation for senior citizens, are one of the groups asking over-60s in the UK to cancel their current direct debits in solidarity with over 75s, hoping to change the BBC's position on making this age group pay.

Dennis Reed of Silver Voices told The Times newspaper that they were planning a “long attritional campaign” against the new rule.

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Those who refuse to pay the fee can face criminal prosecution and even prison, but Jan Shortt, of the National Pensioner’s Convention, told The Sun that her members were prepared to go to court over the campaign.

She said “We cannot condone people breaking the law.

“But, individually, each member will take their own choice. There will be people who refuse to pay.”

Not all over-75s will be expected to pay the fee, with those on pension credit exempted from the new rule.

This group will have to prove they're recipients of the credit by submitting photocopies of their documents from the Department for Work and Pensions or the Pension Service.

A bank statement will also be accepted if they can't access a photocopier.

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The move has been slammed by some campaigners and officials, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying last month that the BBC had made the "wrong decision" over the fee.

BBC bosses, however, have defended the move, saying that maintaining the subsidy would cost around £745m per year, leading to the closure of BBC Two, BBC Four, the BBC News Channel, the BBC Scotland channel, Radio 5 Live, and a number of local radio stations.

A spokeswoman said: "It was the Government that ended funding for over-75s TV licences" and that the "BBC has made the fairest decision possible to support the poorest, oldest pensioners".

She added: "Critically, it isn't the BBC making judgments about poverty - the Government sets and controls pension credit.

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"The decision to start the new scheme in August has not been easy but delaying the introduction has cost the BBC over £70 million and we cannot afford to delay any further.

"These closures would profoundly damage the BBC for everyone, especially older people who use the BBC the most."