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TV licence: BBC could send bailiffs round to over-75s who refuse to pay

It would be "distressing and frightening" for pensioners

The BBC has sent a “complex and confusing” 10-page letter the elderly today (August 6), detailing the changes to the BBC’s TV licence fee for the over-75s.

It comes after millions lost their right to a free TV licence.

Most over-75s are now required to pay the annual £157.50 TV licence fee to the BBC.

However, tens of thousands are set to refuse, and the BBC is reportedly threatening to “enforce the law” when it comes to collecting payments.

TV licence
Millions of over-75s will now have to pay for a TV licence (Credit: Cover Images)

This may mean the corporation could threaten pensioners who refuse to pay with bailiffs.

Who has to pay for a TV licence?

Around 4.5 million over-75s will have to pay their TV licence fee this year.

They can prove they are exempt from paying, however, if they show they are on pension credit.

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However, a campaign group has revealed that tens of thousands have hinted they will rebel against the payment, and refuse to pay it.

But with the BBC planning to “enforce the law”, bailiffs could be sent to the homes of the elderly.

They would be entitled to seize and sell their possessions in order to settle the bill.

This could happen if MPs vote to replace the criminal sanction for licence-fee evasion with a civil penalty.

TV licence
The BBC is setting up a call centre to chase payments as a result of changes to the TV licensing system (Credit: Cover Images)

Age campaigners told The Times the prospect of bailiffs turning up on the doorstep of pensioners would be “distressing and frightening”.

The BBC is now in the process of setting up a call centre of 800 staff to chase payments.

The cost of running the call centre is expected to hit £38 million in the first year alone.

When did the changes come into effect?

The changes in who pays the TV licence fee came into force on August 1.

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As a result of the change, the letters sent to the over-75s state that if the BBC has not heard from them in two months, their licence will be cancelled automatically.

But the problem is their plan is complex and the papers explaining it quite long.

Age UK director Caroline Abrahams said: ‘The BBC can’t be criticised for not giving older people much information about their new TV licence scheme. But the problem is their plan is complex and the bundle of papers explaining it quite long.”

She added that some will get “lost in the detail and wonder what they are supposed to do”.

Caroline continued: “‘The over-75 population is hugely diverse. So while some will no doubt navigate the documentation with ease, others may find this impossibly hard.”

She said some have no family they can rely on for support when it comes to deciphering the letter.

The BBC responds

A BBC spokesperson said: “Over-75s will start to receive letters about how to set up their new TV licence from today. No one needs to do anything until they have the letter, whether that’s paying or applying for a free licence, and no one needs to leave their home. ”

They added: “We are also working with hundreds of money advice and community organisations to reach older people.”

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