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BBC licence opt-in bid for over-75s

Published 10/07/2015

The BBC has agreed to fully fund free TV licences for over-75s from 2020/21, the Culture Secretary has said
The BBC has agreed to fully fund free TV licences for over-75s from 2020/21, the Culture Secretary has said

The BBC will ask over-75s to opt back in to pay the licence fee to help fund the corporation, according to one of its senior executives.

The broadcaster agreed to take over responsibility for funding TV licences for over-75s from the government as part of a deal agreed in the run-up to this week's budget.

It will be phased in from 2018/19 with the BBC paying the full bill from 2020/21 while the licence fee of £145.50 will rise in line with the consumer price index (CPI) measure of inflation.

Writing in a BBC blog, director of policy James Heath said the move would "reduce the BBC's licence fee income by around £725 million" a year.

He said: " We will give those eligible households an opportunity to voluntarily pay for a TV licence and so make a contribution to the cost of the BBC's services."

The deal committing the BBC to fully funding TV licences for over-75s has been described as "awful" and "objectionable" by former Conservative cabinet minister and ex-BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten.

He said c orporation bosses signed up to the change because Culture Secretary John Whittingdale was "threatening" them with a much tougher settlement.

It is unclear where the idea to ask for voluntary payments came from, but a letter to director-general Tony Hall, dated July 3 and from Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and Mr Whittingdale, confirms the BBC is " able to ask for voluntary payment of the licence fee" from over-75s.

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