Pensioners face £1,000 fine if they don’t get TV Licence TODAY

Pensioners face £1,000 fine if they don’t get TV Licence TODAY

July 31, 2021

HUNDREDS of thousands of pensioners face being fined after today when their entitlement to a free TV Licence ends.

Over-75s now have to pay to watch their favourite shows and the year-long grace period to get used to the rule change comes to an end today.

Anyone who watches telly without a licence can be fined £1,000 – unless they are exempt.

Everyone aged 75 and over used to be spared the £159 annual cost , but it's now only pensioners on the lowest incomes who can get a TV Licence for free.

The government stopped funding the free licences for over-75s in 2015, handing the responsibility over to the BBC.

But the BBC last year announced it would also pull the plug on the initiative to save cash.

The free TV Licence was originally due to end in June but that was moved back to August because of the coroanvirus pandemic.

Then in February the BBC said it would introduce a transition period because of the ongoing Covid crisis for around 300,000 OAPs who had yet to get a licence.

The transition period – which ends today – meant anyone who couldn’t afford a TV licence wouldn't be fined.

Anyone without a licence from August 1 will face a fine.

Pensioners on low incomes who are entitled to Pension Credit can still get the TV Licence for free.

The BBC has said that more than nine in 10 over-75s households have already made arrangements for a paid licence, or updated changes in their circumstances that entitle them to a free one.

In its latest update on the changes, the broadcasting house said it would otherwise write to the remaining 260,000 customers who hadn't yet made arrangements.

Since the over-75s have been forced to pay the annual fee, the BBC has reportedly raked in an extra £250million in licence fees, and this will only go up with the end of the grace period.

You'll want to make sure to get a licence before the deadline or check if you are entitled to Pension Credit, otherwise you risk paying a hefty fine.

And if you don't pay the fine you risk prosecution. You can even be jailed for non-payment of a fine imposed by the court.

Do I need a TV licence?

A licence is needed by anyone intending to watch or record TV programmes while they are being broadcast live.

Live TV in this sense covers all programmes on any channel, including soaps, series, documentaries and even movies.

In addition, the rules apply even if you don't watch the shows on an actual TV – for example, if you watch programmes that are being broadcast live on a PC, laptop, tablet or phone.

You also need one if you record live TV and then watch it later.

You'll need to apply for a free licence on the TV licensing website or call 0300 790 6117.

You don't have to pay for the licence if you're over 75 and on Pension Credit though.

What is pension credit and who is eligible?

Pension Credit is a means-tested benefit that helps those on lower incomes by giving them extra money throughout retirement.

It will give you extra cash as well as a free TV Licence, so it's worth checking in case you could get both.

There are two parts to the benefit and pensioners can be eligible for one or both parts:

  • Guarantee credit – tops up your weekly income to a guaranteed minimum level. This is £167.25 a week if you're single and £255.25 a week for married couples.
  • Savings credit – provides extra money if you've saved money towards retirement. You can get an extra £13.75 a week for a single person or £15.35 a week for a married couple.

You may also get additional pension credit if you are disabled, have caring responsibilities or have to pay certain housing costs such as mortgage interest payments.

For instance, you can get either £53.34 a week or £63.84 per week for each child or young person you’re responsible for.

If they’re disabled, you may get more.

Pension Credit is available for people who are over the state pension age, who live in England, Scotland or Wales.

To qualify, you'll need to have a weekly income of less than £167.25 for single people or £255.25 for couples.

To apply for pension Credit call the claim line on 0800 99 1234 and it's open Monday to Friday from 8am to 7.30pm.

You'll need some information to hand before you make the call, including:

  • Your national insurance number
  • Information about your income, savings and investments
  • The details for the account you want the money to be paid into

You can find out more about Pension Credit in The Sun's guide here.

How do I get a TV licence and how much does it cost?

You can apply for a TV licence online or by calling 0300 790 6165.

It cost you £159 for a standard colour TV licence, otherwise it's £53.50 for a black and white one.

The fee you pay will last you a whole year and starts from the day that you buy it.

You'll want to make a note of when this is so you know when to renew it next year too.

You'll only need one per household and it doesn't matter how many people live with you.

But if you or someone you live with is blind or severely sight-impaired, you can get 50% off the fee.

If you live in a residential care home or sheltered accommodation, you may be able to apply for a reduced licence which will normally cost you £7.50 instead.

Plus if you're a student you don't have to pay yourself as you can be covered by your parents licence despite living away from home, but you can't watch something plugged into the mains in this case.

Can I still watch TV for free?

You can legally watch programmes made for the small screen without the need for a TV Licence.

You just can't watch or stream live TV without one.

You can use catch-up TV services such as the ITV hub, All 4, or My5 to still watch programmes after they've aired, and it's free to make an account and watch.

Usually the free account will mean you still have to watch adverts during the programme too.

But you can't watch or download programmes on BBC iPlayer without a TV licence and it will remind you of this when you click to watch anything.

You can also use on-demand services like Netflix, Amazon Prime or Disney Plus to watch all your favourite shows without a licence – but you will have to pay the platform's own subscription service to use them.

There are ways to get around paying initially, like with a free month long trial – but be careful to cancel before the trail ends otherwise you will end up paying the monthly fee.

If you watch a recorded film or programme, either via DVD or Blu-ray, or downloaded from the internet, then that's possible without paying a licence too.

Plus YouTube is completely free to use too and you can watch millions of video clips that aren't live on the platform without needing the licence.

Now TV has introduced major changes of its own too, affecting loads of basic rate customers.

There are several big financial changes coming up that you should be aware of, including the deadline to renew tax credits.

If you wary of other fines you could get this summer watch you're not wearing sunglasses while driving as this could leave you out of pocket by £5,000.

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