Older people on low incomes will find it easier and faster to apply for their free TV license under the UK Government’s new plans. Reforms tabled in Parliament on Thursday would mean that over-75s on pension credit would no longer have to fill in paperwork when applying for or renewing their license, reducing the usual annual cost of £159 to zero.
While eligible older people currently have to fill in forms to prove they are receiving the benefit, the legislative change would allow the BBC to verify this automatically with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) without the need for paperwork. The move means that the 7,000 people who apply for a free TV license each month will be able to do so more quickly online or over the phone.
Last year the BBC limited free TV licenses to over-75s with a pension credit, which is designed to help cover day-to-day living costs for people over pension age and low income.
Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “The BBC’s disappointing decision to stop providing free TV licenses to everyone over 75 has left low-income pensioners who remain eligible to jump through administrative hoops to avoid pay the fees.
“The changes mean that those who receive Pension Credit will get the savings with minimal hassle, ensuring that more people get the support they are entitled to as we tackle the cost of living and grow the economy.”
DWP Pensions Minister Guy Opperman said: ‘We want everyone to be able to claim the benefits they are entitled to, including the pension credit which acts as a gateway to other benefits such as the free TV licence.
“This change will help reduce the administrative burden for over-75s and put their minds at ease.”
The reforms would amend the Television Licensing Act 2000, with changes to the simplified application process due to come into force next year.
It comes as the UK government reinstates the triple lock on state pensions, while opposing above-inflation pay rises for public sector workers on the grounds that they would be inflationary.
Pensioners could see their payouts rise by double digits next year as the state pension will be determined by September consumer price index (CPI) inflation, while workers face to a pay cut in real terms.
The DWP said last week that around 850,000 households would be cut off from the life support of the Pension Credit, at a time when the cost of living crisis is hitting people on low or fixed incomes particularly hard.
More than 1.4 million people over state pension age across the UK are currently receiving the benefit, including some 129,671 living in Scotland, and accessing additional financial support with the tax. accommodation, housing allowances, audience bills and a free TV license for those over 75.
What is Pension Credit?
Some seniors think that because they have savings or own their homes they wouldn’t qualify for a pension credit, but thousands of people could miss out on the extra money and discounts it offers every month.
Other help if you have a pension credit
If you are eligible for pension credit, you can also get other help, such as:
- Housing allowance if you rent the property in which you live
- Mortgage interest coverage if you own the property you live in
- Residence tax reduction
- Free TV license if you are 75 or older
- Help with NHS dental care, glasses and transport costs for hospital appointments
- Help with your heating costs with the Warm Home rebate program
- A discount on the Royal Mail redirect service if you move house
One of the quickest ways to find out if you’re eligible and how much extra you could potentially receive each week is to use the Pension Credit Calculator on the GOV.UK website.
Mixed elderly couples and Pension Credit
In May 2019, the law changed so that a “mixed-age couple” — a couple where one partner is of state retirement age and the other is below — is considered a “working-age” couple when verifying means-tested eligibility. advantages.
This means that they cannot claim pension credit or housing benefit at retirement age until they both reach retirement age.
Prior to this change to the DWP, a mixed-age couple could claim the more generous state retirement age benefits when only one of them reached state retirement age.
How to use the pension credit calculator
To use the calculator, you will need details of:
You will need the same details for your partner if you have one.
Who cannot use the pension credit calculator?
You cannot use the calculator if you or your partner:
defer your state pension
own more than one property
have housing costs (such as service charges or Crown tenant rent) that are neither mortgage payments nor rent covered by Housing Benefit
How to make a claim
You can start your application up to four months before you reach state retirement age.
You can apply anytime after reaching state retirement age, but your application can only be backdated by three months.
This means you can get up to three months of pension credit on your first payment if you qualified during that time.
You will need:
your national insurance number
information about your income, savings and investments
your bank details, if you are applying by phone or by post
If you are backdating your application, you will need details of your income, savings and investments as of the date you want your application to start.
You can use the online service if:
To check your entitlements, call the Pension Credit Helpline on 0800 99 1234 or use the GOV.UK Pension Credit Calculator here to find out how much you could get.
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