How can I benefit from the pension credit to keep my free TV license?

According to Age UK, those over 75 living in poverty and confined to their homes will be the hardest hit by the decision to make them pay for television licenses.

Some 2.2 million over the age of 75 have a long-standing illness that keeps them mostly housebound, and being landed with an extra bill of £154.50 a year will be a blow to many in this group, says the charity.

The government has struck a deal to transfer responsibility for funding free TV licenses for the over-75s to the BBC from summer 2020, and the broadcaster announced earlier this month that it is expected to test the resources of retirees to cope with this new financial burden.

TV watchers: Some 2.2 million over the age of 75 suffer from a long-standing illness that mostly keeps them confined to their homes, according to Age UK

Only those over 75 who claim retirement credit, an advantage for the most modest retirees, will be able to benefit from free licenses from next June. The decision is expected to lead to increased claims for this underclaimed benefit.

Age UK has so far collected around 575,000 signatures on its petition against the licensing fee decision. The charity is urging the government to continue funding the benefit to avoid the BBC or pensioners having to bear the cost.

Below, we explain why the rules have changed, how it’s likely to affect pensioners and what those worried about affording a permit can do to keep getting one for free.

Why are free-to-air TV licenses being phased out for the over 75s?

Charter renewal negotiations between the government and the BBC in 2015 preserved the license fee system for broadcaster funding.

But as part of the deal, the BBC agreed to take over the funding of the free licenses for over-75s. It would cost him around £745m in 2021/22 alone and would require him to cut services drastically.

It has therefore announced its intention to drop the free benefit for around 3.7 million people from June 1, 2020, while around 1.5 million households will remain eligible if they apply for a pension credit.

How will this affect older people?

Half of the over-75s are mostly housebound due to illness, and those who are financially struggling but not poor enough to get a pension credit are likely to be hardest hit by the loss of their free license.

According to Age UK, more than 40% of people who currently qualify for pension credit do not claim it, often because they do not realize they are eligible for it – around 650,000 people.

On top of that, there are those over 75 who are short of money but who cannot claim the pension credit, often by little. Age UK says it’s hard to be exact, but it estimates it could bring the number likely to suffer the most to around one million.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, says: ‘If you walk into the home of an elderly person who has serious health problems and needs care, nine times out of ten their television takes pride of place. .

“For this large group of over 75s, going out is difficult if not impossible and many live alone and spend most or all of the day alone.”

She adds: ‘We call on our policy makers, the Conservative Party leadership candidates above all else, to try to understand what it is to be of old age, in frail or declining health, largely confined at home or even in a room or your bed, and dependent on your TV for stimulation and comfort.

“That’s the reality for hundreds of thousands of people and I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the state to pay so they can at least watch TV for free without the hassle and expense of purchasing a license or self-validating their right to pension credit to obtain a free license.

Licensing fee protest: Demonstrators gather outside BBC Scotland headquarters in Glasgow on Friday

Licensing fee protest: Demonstrators gather outside BBC Scotland headquarters in Glasgow on Friday

Are you eligible for the pension credit and how do I apply for it?

The pension credit is a benefit that supplements the weekly income of the country’s poorest elderly. It comes in two parts: guarantee credit and savings credit.

Secured credit boosts your income to £167.25 if you are single or £255.25 if you are in a relationship.

You may be eligible if you have reached the legal retirement age and your income is below these amounts, even if you own your home.

A separate savings credit element is available for people who reached retirement age before April 2016. There is no limit to how much you can save, but if you have more than £10,000, you will receive less money.

To claim a pension credit, you must call the claims line on 0800 99 1234, and the staff will complete the form for you. You should have the following items handy.

– National insurance number

– Bank account details

– Information about your income, savings and investments

– Information on your pension if you have one

– Details of all housing costs, such as mortgage, interest payments and service charges

– Contact details of the partner if you have one

According to Age UK, many people don’t claim the benefit or barely exceed the income limit, so they will lose their free license and find it hard to afford to buy one.

It says any older person who thinks they are entitled to a pension credit can contact Age UK on their free advice line 0800 169 6565 or visit www.ageuk.org.uk/money for more information.

In addition to the pension credit, there are TV license concessions for blind people and those living in institutions. The details are here.

An increase in pension credit claims is likely following the license fee decision, given that around two in five people who qualify for it are not currently claiming it.

The Government could therefore end up having to pay hundreds of millions more pounds in unclaimed benefits due to the transfer of responsibility for funding free licenses to the BBC and the ensuing publicity around its new review rules. Resource.

If the number of benefit claimants increases, there will also be fewer people over the age of 75 paying license fees and helping to fund BBC services.

New rules: the government has reached an agreement to transfer responsibility for funding free TV licenses for the over 75s to the BBC from summer 2020,

New rules: the government has reached an agreement to transfer responsibility for funding free TV licenses for the over 75s to the BBC from summer 2020,

What does the government say?

A government spokesman said: “We are very disappointed with this decision – we have made it clear that we want and expect the BBC to pursue this concession.”

“People across the country value television as a way to stay connected, and we want the BBC to look at other ways to support older people.

“Taxpayers want to see the BBC use its substantial license fee revenue appropriately to ensure it meets the expectations of the British public, which includes exercising restraint on senior executive salaries.”

STEVE WEBB ANSWERS YOUR RETIREMENT QUESTIONS

What does e meanand BBC says?

“We appreciate that people feel strongly about this issue and recognize that many people have signed Age UK’s petition calling on the government to restore funding for free TV licenses,” a BBC spokesperson said. .

‘We know that pensioner poverty is a big issue, and that’s why we’re making sure that the poorest older pensioners continue to get a free licence, while avoiding the closure of key services that would be necessary if we were to reach £745 million. cost of the year.

“We have written to charities and groups of older people to work together to ensure that poorer older pensioners know how to apply for pension credit.

“We hope pensioners will consider claiming as they may then be entitled to around £2,500 and other benefits as well as a free TV license.”

What does the Labor Party say?

“The decision to scrap free television licenses for older people, including millions of homebound and isolated people, will be remembered as one of this Conservative government’s worst broken promises,” said Tom Watson, secretary of Labour’s Shadow Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. .

“Both Conservative leadership candidates must commit to reversing this decision. Labor will continue to do everything in our power to end this cruelty and protect the elderly.

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