Cost of annual TV Licence fee is increasing from April - what you need to know

The TV Licence fee will increase from 1 April 2021 (Photo: Shutterstock)The TV Licence fee will increase from 1 April 2021 (Photo: Shutterstock)
The TV Licence fee will increase from 1 April 2021 (Photo: Shutterstock)

The cost of the annual TV Licence fee is increasing from April, it has been announced.

The fee is set by the government and this year marks the fifth in a row that the fee, which funds the BBC, has gone up.

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The rise comes after the government announced in 2016 that the price would rise in line with inflation for five years from April 2017.

How much will it cost?

From 1 April 2021, the licence fee will increase from £157.50 to £159, equating to an extra 43p per day.

Those who are buying or renewing a TV licence after 1 April 2021 will have to pay the new fee, while those who already buy a licence on an instalment scheme which started before this date, such as via a monthly direct debit or weekly cash payments, will continue to make payments totalling £157.50 until their licence comes up for renewal.

The cost of an annual black and white licence will rise from £53.00 to £53.50.

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The new fee will apply whether you are watching live TV or on BBC iPlayer on any device, but you do not need a TV licence to watch streaming services, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime or Disney Plus.

The broadcaster has said it will send reminders to households with an updated payment plan which will reflect the new charges when they come to renew their licence.

Fines for not paying

People who fail to pay their TV licence risk landing a fine of up to £1,000, with jail sentences possible for those who refuse to pay the penalty.

Last month the government said it is not going ahead with plans to decriminalise non-payment of the licence fee but will keep the issue under “active consideration”.

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Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said switching to a civil enforcement system risked being seen as an “invitation” to evade the fee and could ultimately reward those who declined to pay.

However, he said the government remained concerned that a criminal sanction was “disproportionate and unfair” in the current public service broadcasting landscape.

The BBC has previously warned that decriminalising licence fee evasion and switching to a civil system would cost it more than £1 billion and lead to significant cuts to programmes and services.

Services without a TV licence

You can legally watch a number of streaming services without a TV licence providing you are not using them to watch or stream live TV.

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These include on demand TV, such as catch-up TV and on demand previews which are available through services including ITV Player, All 4, MY5, Now TV Apple TV and Virgin Media, among others. However, you cannot watch or download programmes on BBC iPlayer without a TV licence.

Other services that don’t require a TV licence include:

  • On demand films, via services such as Sky, Virgin Media, BT Vision, Netflix and Amazon Instant Video
  • Recorded films and programmes, such as DVDs and Blu-ray, or films downloaded from the internet
  • YouTube - video clips that are not live can be watched via this service