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Over half a million over-75s risk prosecution if they fail to claim free TV licences

Jessica Beard
·2-min read
An elderly person's hand and a TV remote
An elderly person's hand and a TV remote

Hundreds of thousands of pensioners are missing out on free TV licences because they have failed to sign up for pension credit.

More than 589,000 retirees over the age of 75 are entitled to a free licence but do not claim one, according to data from poverty charity, Turn2us.

Two million over-75s were told they had to start paying for the £157.50 annual charge by August 1 or risk facing criminal prosecution after the BBC withdrew their free licence to save money.

The national broadcaster introduced a concession for people over the age of 75 in receipt of pension credit.

However, it is estimated that only 61pc of people eligible of the credit actually claim their entitlement, which tops up your income if you're struggling to make ends meet.

The BBC has warned that it will "enforce the law" if pensioners refuse to pay but continue to watch television as it is currently spending nearly £40m this year to chase those who do not pay.

Around 4.5 million households currently receive free licences and will receive letters in the coming weeks telling them that they are required to pay the £157.50 or prove that they are eligible for pension credit.

Anna Stevenson, of Turn2us said: “Pension credit is a lifeline for older people stuck on low incomes in retirement, and now it is the only route to getting a free TV licence. So it is more important, now than ever, to claim it.”

Over-75s TV licence Q&A
Over-75s TV licence Q&A

London and the North West have the most retirees missing out on the free licence in Britain. There are 75,354 pensioners in the North West alone who could claim the credit, according to the charity.

Pensions minister Guy Opperman confirmed that a significant number of older people may be missing out on extra credit.

There are 1.5 million retirees receiving pension credit who will automatically have been granted a free TV licence.

He said: “We’re keen to get the message out there that everyone should claim the benefits they’re entitled to and I would encourage anyone who thinks they might be eligible for pension credit to check.”

The Department for Work and Pensions released figures that show an estimated £2.2bn of available pension credit was unclaimed in 2017-2018.

To check your entitlement, visit the Government website at or call 0800 99 1234.

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