Major Changes Come to TV Licence Scheme for Seniors and Pensioners

tv licence guidelines for seniors

Changes to the current TV licence exemption scheme will see over 75s pay licence fees from mid-2020 onwards. Under the new plan, only pension credit holders will be eligible for the exemption.

Older UK residents are set to take a hit to the hip pocket as of 2020, with the government electing to wind back the senior exemption from the television licence fee scheme.

The exemption was first implemented in 2000 but will be phased out by June 2020. After phasing out the funding for the exemption, the government indicated that the funding for the program would be left up to the BBC.

BBC chiefs, however, indicated that they were unable to cover the expected amount per year to continue the exemption, thus bringing an end to the seniors discount program for pension credit holders.

Under the scheme, any household where an over-75 person lives is exempt from the plan, regardless of the age of the other residents or the size of the house itself. An estimated 4.5 million households across the UK currently operate under the exemption and are set to be affected by the change.

The current annual licence fee has now increased by a few quids.

Limited Exemptions for Seniors

The BBC did indicate that a limited exemption would be continued for over 75s who claimed a pension credit. The pension credit is a means-tested benefit that is available to low-income households.  

Those who qualify for a pension credit will have their licence fee waived in a similar way to the current program but will have to apply.

There are some concerns; however, many who are eligible for the program are unaware, given that an estimated 1.3 million families who are entitled to receive the benefit do not currently claim it, including seniors and pensioners.

The Over-75s TV Licence Exemption

The over-75s exemption was one of the few exemptions to the UK TV licencing scheme, which requires that every household with a television pay an annual fee to the government.

Other than the pension credit exemption for over 75s, a number of limited exceptions remain. Blind or severely sight impaired persons can apply for a concession TV licence to have their fee waived.

Another exemption applies for residents of care homes, who can have their licence fees reduced per year.

How will the exemption affect your Freeview?

The fees from the scheme fund the UK’s free to air television programming, including popular channels like the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.

Pay TV users are not fully exempt from the changes as most pay-TV programs are based around a Freeview core.

What can I watch without a TV licence?

Any viewers who watch live TV will be required to pay a licence fee. Even viewers who only record to catch up later on services like BBC iPlayer are required to pay for a licence.

Viewers of independent streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime or NOW TV, however, will not be required to pay for a TV licence.

Online Streaming without a TV Licence

Netflix, Amazon Prime and NOW TV have grown significantly in popularity in recent years. In 2018 the streaming platforms collectively reached the 15-million subscriber mark, a notable milestone considering how new each service actually is.

Netflix and Amazon Prime have brought about a range of revolutionary changes across the television landscape in recent years, particularly as both have begun producing their own original content.NOW TV, a subsidiary of Sky, is another relatively new player on the TV market. By giving viewers access to Sky content on flexible deals which do not require a TV or the installation of a satellite dish, NOW TV has established themselves as a significant player in the UK TV market. All without a TV licence.