Stop ‘harassing’ our OAPs! Campaigners tear BBC apart for hiking TV licence fee

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Campaigners have erupted after corporation chiefs said the annual fee would increase from £157.50 to £159 from April 1, 2021, with black and white licences rising from £53.00 to £53.50. BBC chiefs last night said the new cost equates to 43p per day.

But Dennis Reed, director of Silver Voices, claimed pensioners were being fleeced of their weekly state pensions because of the increase.

He told Express.co.uk: “My immediate reaction to the increase is that it will harden the resolve of the over 75s who are refusing to make payments.

“The increase is like rubbing grit in their eyes.”

He claimed the BBC should not be able to justify the increase during the coronavirus pandemic and argued most companies “seemed to be recognising during COVID-19″ there wasn’t a point in rising prices for goods and services because there was “no case financially”.

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Up to 750,000 older people have not signed up for a television licence after losing their right to a free one – but the BBC has denied claims this is because over-75s have to refused to pay.

Free licence privileges for over 75’s were removed last August, with only OAPs receiving Pension Credit entitled to a free one.

Last night, the BBC confirmed 2.7 million over-75s had paid for their licence.

An extra 750,000 applied for free licences available to anyone on pension credit.

However, this has left a shortfall of 750,000 based on 4.2 million over-75s who previously held free licences at the start of the new policy.

The corporation has also recently come under fire for sending letters threatening further action if the people don’t pay the fee cost.

Letters told recipients to “arrange payment” or apply for a free licence if they were entitled to them before further action is taken.

Mr Reed said: “If an older person is getting three of four reminders through the door, you could call that harassment.”

Figures revealed the corporation sent 525,223 letters to over 75s by the end of November urging them to pay for a TV licence urgently.

The licence fee currently costs £157.50 a year and pays for BBC shows and services – including TV, radio, the BBC website, podcasts, iPlayer and apps.

However, the model has come under fire recently amidst criticism of the broadcaster over equal pay, diversity and competition from streaming services such as Netflix, as well as the abolition of free TV licences for all over-75s.

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Last night, John O’Connell, chief executive of campaign group the TaxPayers’ Alliance, urged the corporation to scrap the fee altogether

He said: “Another hike in the hated TV tax is the last thing struggling households need.

“Brits are fed up with seeing the Beeb splash their cash on loaded luvvies, politicised programming and generous expenses for BBC bosses.

“’It’s time to scrap the licence fee and let the public decide what’s worth paying for.”

 

Meanwhile, former MEP Rupert Lowe branded the fee hike “a joke” and renewed calls for the Defund the BBC campaign. 

Under the new plans, those buying or renewing a licence after April 1, 2021 will pay the new fee.

Bu those already buying a licence on an instalment scheme which started before that date, such as via a monthly direct debit or weekly cash payments, will continue to make payments totalling £157.50 until their licence comes up for renewal.

The cost of an annual black and white licence will also rise from £53.00 to £53.50.

BBC figures reveal 71 percent of the corporation’s £4.94billion revenue came from licence fees in 2019/2020.

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The corporation also previously warned Government plans to decriminalise licence fee evasion and switching to a civil system would cost it more than £1 billion and lead to significant cuts to programmes and services.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden added switching to a civil enforcement system risked being seen as an “invitation” to evade the fee and could ultimately reward those who declined to pay.

When contacted by Express.co.uk, a BBC spokesperson said: ““The Government sets the level of the licence fee, not the BBC.

“There is no evidence to suggest that customers we are yet to hear from are refusing to pay.

“Around 80 percent of over-75 households have now transitioned to the new system, including those in receipt of Pension Credit who are eligible for a free licence funded by the BBC.

“We continue to process applications, we’re giving people plenty of time to get set-up, the process is Covid-secure and we have a range of measures to support people, including payment plans.”

 

 

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