BBC delays Licence Fee changes for the over-75s | Major Businesses | Business
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The outbreak of the Coronavirus has forced the BBC to drop its prospective changes to the UK TV licence for people aged over 75 which had been due to come into effect on 1 June.
BBC 25Oct2018
Since 2000, all UK households with people over 75 have been entitled to a free TV licence. Up until 2015 the scheme had been paid for by the state, but at that time the then David Cameron-led UK government decided to pass on this burden to the BBC and through an Act of Parliament, the Government gave the BBC the power to decide what would happen next. 

In June 2019, a move that caused uproar among those that wil be affected, the BBC revealed that its  scheme offering free TV licences for all those in the UK aged over 75 would come to an end in June 2020.

Explaining the decision, BBC Director General Tony Hall noted that after June 2020, the cost of continuing with free licences for all over 75s would be £745 million a year and rising, around a fifth of the BBC’s budget. He added that if the BBC were to meet the increased costs, it would result in a swingeing set of reductions that would in practice mean the closures of BBC Two, BBC Four, the BBC News Channel, the BBC Scotland Channel and Radio 5live in addition to a number of local radio stations.

However, as the UK enters a virtual state of limbo as a result of the spread of the Coronavirus, the BBC said that at this time it did not want anyone to be worried about any potential change. Indeed it stressed that Now was not the right time for any change and that the Corporation was ‘fully-focussed’ on delivering its services to the public at what it somewhat euphemistically called ‘a difficult time.’

In a joint statement with the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport it said: “The BBC and the Government have been discussing the national Coronavirus situation. 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 1 August. We will of course keep the issue under review as the situation continues to evolve.”

UK Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden added: “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.”