Pension credit benefit and free TV licensing for over 75s

The much-contested scrapping of free TV licences for all over-75s came into force on 1st August, yet thousands of households can claim a free licence. Justin King, Chartered Financial Planner at Mudeford’s award-winning retirement planners MFP Wealth Management explains the rules.

Who’s eligible?

The BBC went ahead with its plan to end free TV licences for many over-75s after a two-month delay because of the coronavirus pandemic. Around 1.5 million over-75s will be able to claim for the free licence, but up to 3.7 million who previously would have been eligible may have to pay. Free TV licences are now restricted to those who receive the pension credit benefit, but it is believed that 1.3 million eligible households don’t claim this benefit.

Do I need a licence?

In principle, if you watch (or record) live TV on any channel and on any device, or if you use BBC iPlayer, then you need a TV licence. The licence also covers you for watching on a mobile device outside of your home. If you only watch on-demand or catch-up TV like ITV Hub or Netflix – whether that be on your TV, a laptop, iPad or your mobile phone – you don’t need a TV licence. The exception to this is the BBC iPlayer.

If you live in a residential care home or sheltered accommodation and watch TV in your own room or flat, then you need a licence. The care home manager may be able to apply for an Accommodation for Residential Care (ARC) Concessionary TV Licence though, which costs £7.50 per room, flat or bungalow. 

Pension credit benefit

Pension credit benefit is a means-tested income top-up benefit for those who have reached state pension age. If your weekly income is less than £167.25 as a single pensioner, or your joint weekly income is less than £255.25 as a couple, your income will be topped up to this level. There is also a savings credit element, which is mostly only available to those who reached state pension age before 6 April 2016, who have some savings for retirement.

If you think you or someone you know could claim, call the Pension Service on 0800 991234. 

What will happen next?

The BBC will write to you, and those who still qualify for a free TV licence will need to use a ‘self-verification system’ to prove they receive pension credit. Everyone else will need to pay the £157.50 annual fee.

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