#AceFinanceReport – Aug.06: Under the previous scheme, which ran from November 2000 to July 2020, all households with someone aged 75 and over were eligible for a free TV licence. As of March 2019, there were 4.6 million free TV licences in the UK, accounting for 17.6% of all TV licences: The previous concession for over-75s was funded by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The Government forecast that its decision to phase out its funding of free TV licences (announced in 2015) would save it £725 million a year from 2020-21:
The BBC’s decision to link eligibility for free licences to Pension Credit was announced on 10 June 2019, following a public consultation. The change was initially meant to come into force on 1 June 2020, but due to the coronavirus outbreak, the BBC delayed it until 1 August 2020:
This Insight explores the relationship between Pension Credit and free TV licences. In the absence of local data, we have created the interactive dashboard below, using benefit claimant data to estimate the number of households affected:
Free TV licences: Local impact of changes for over 75s (dashboard)
How many over 75s claim Pension Credit?
As of November 2019, there were 922,000 single or couple claims for Pension Credit in Great Britain, where the lead claimant was 75 or over.
The BBC estimated that around 900,000 households with someone over 75 would still receive a free licence. It predicted that 3.75 million households with over 75s who do not receive Pension Credit, would no longer receive a free licence.
These figures are based on current Pension Credit take-up. The BBC also estimated that if all entitled pensioners in the 75-and-over age group claimed the benefit, then “over 1.5 million households could potentially be eligible for a concession.” Even if take-up were at this upper end of the scale, this would still mean around three million households (two-thirds of existing beneficiaries) would lose their free TV licences.
How many will be affected by TV licence changes in my area?
Official figures on TV licence holders, including those with the free over-75s licence, are only published nationally. There are no official breakdowns for regions, constituencies or local authority areas.
We can however derive a reasonable proxy measure of over-75 TV licence holders from the DWP’s annual statistics on households receiving Winter Fuel Payment (WFP). WFP is available for all state pensioners in the UK.
These statistics set out the number of households receiving WFP in each constituency and local authority, which contain someone aged 75 or over. Given the universal coverage of WFP, its caseload can be assumed to closely approximate the number of free TV licence beneficiaries under the previous scheme.
We can use WFP statistics alongside DWP data on the number of Pension Credit claimants to estimate how many people will be affected when free TV licence provision is linked to recipients of Pension Credit.
Using the constituency data tool below you can access our updated estimates, produced in July 2020. They are based on:
- WFP households in the winter of 2018-19 containing someone aged 75 or over, and
- Pension Credit claims in November 2019 where the lead claimant is aged 75 or over.
Subtracting the latter from the former, we get an indication of the number of households which may lose their free TV licences, based on 2019 data.
Use the dropdown menu below to select the area you’re interested in and view key statistics on people and households in the over 75 age group.