BBC Over 75s Licence Fee consultation launch | Glasgow Chamber of Commerce
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BBC Over 75s Licence Fee consultation launch

The BBC today is launching a consultation on licence fees for older people. 

Currently all households with people over 75 are entitled to a free TV licence. That UK Government-funded scheme – which is expected to cost £745m by 2021/22 - comes to an end in June 2020. 

It is for the BBC to decide on any future scheme and to pay for it. We want to hear the views of the public about the future. The consultation opens today and will run for three months and the BBC’s Board hopes to make a decision by the summer.  

We have produced a consultation document with a range of options and a set of questions.  You can read more about them here: www.bbc.co.uk/yoursay 

There are a range of options available: 

  • The BBC could copy the scheme, but that could cost around a fifth of our budget - the equivalent to what we spend today on all of BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC Four, the BBC News Channel, CBBC and CBeebies. That would mean over-75s would not have to pay, as at present, but we think it would fundamentally change the BBC because of the scale of service cuts we would need to make. 
  • Another option would be to restore the universal licence fee that existed in the past, meaning no concession. This would mean the BBC would not have to make significant cuts to BBC services, but would have an impact on those over-75s, particularly poorer pensioners, who currently do not pay. 
  • Or the BBC could take neither of those choices and reform the scheme. There are different ways of doing this, including:
  • discounting the cost of a licence fee for older people. This would reduce the impact of cuts to BBC services, but would mean everyone over 75 would pay something, for example 50%; 
  • raising the age from 75 to 80, which would reduce the financial impact on the BBC but keep free licences for the oldest households; 
  • introducing means-testing - so that older people in greater financial need wouldn’t pay, but those who could afford it would. This would also reduce the impact on BBC services, while protecting the most vulnerable.  

Any choice would have its merits and its drawbacks. We are not backing any particular option over another today, but are asking the public and stakeholders what they think. We will look at the responses, and then make a decision taking into account all relevant considerations, including the implications of the decision: for the BBC in delivering its public service mission; for our audiences; for the older members of our society. 

The BBC commissioned the economics consultancy, Frontier Economics, to provide detailed analysis on the changing landscape since 2000 and possible ways to approach the decision the BBC has to make. You can read them here and here. Additionally, if you would like to respond to the consultation you can now do so at www.bbc.co.uk/yoursay. For alternative formats (e.g Braille and audio), the consultation can be accessed by calling 0800 232 138. 

The consultation is open from 20 November 2018 to 12 February 2019.

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