Coronavirus: Free over-75s TV licence extended amid Covid-19 pandemic

16 March 2020, 12:14 | Updated: 16 March 2020, 12:19

The Government and BBC have agreed to delay the end of the free TV licence for over-75s until August 1
The Government and BBC have agreed to delay the end of the free TV licence for over-75s until August 1. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The Government and BBC have agreed to delay the end of the free TV licence for over-75s until August 1 due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

With plans to request over 70s self-isolate due to coronavirus, many were left questioning the decision to introduce changes to the TV license fee at this point in time.

A joint statement said: "The BBC and the Government have been discussing the national coronavirus situation. Changes to the TV licence for people aged over 75 had been due to come into effect on June 1. But during this time we do not want anyone to be worried about any potential change.

"The BBC's priority over the coming period will be to do everything we can to serve the nation at this uniquely challenging time. As the national broadcaster, the BBC has a vital role to play in supplying information to the public in the weeks and months ahead.

"Recognising the exceptional circumstances, the BBC Board has therefore decided to change the start date of the new policy. Our current plan is to now bring it into place on August 1. We will of course keep the issue under review as the situation continues to evolve."

Chairman of the BBC, Sir David Clementi, said: "The BBC board has decided to delay changes to over 75s licence fees.

"We are in exceptional circumstances. Now is not the right time. We are fully focussed on delivering our services to the public at this difficult time."

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "I am pleased the BBC has worked with us and agreed to delay their licence fee changes for over-75s from coming in and will keep this under review.

"It will be welcome news to millions of older people who now don't need to worry about their TV licence during this challenging period.

"It is right that the BBC have recognised the exceptional circumstances posed by the coronavirus outbreak and the need for the whole country to pull together in the national effort."

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