BBC Board decision on licence fees for older people

This consultation was open from 20 November 2018 to 12 February 2019 and has now closed

Following a public consultation, the BBC Board has decided that from August 2020 any household with someone aged over 75 who receives Pension Credit will be entitled to a free TV licence paid for by the BBC.

Currently all households with people over 75 are entitled to a free TV licence. That Government-funded scheme - which is expected to cost £745m by 2021/22 - comes to an end in 2020. The BBC was given responsibility – through legislation - for deciding on any future scheme and to pay for it.

The Board believes this is the fairest option to help the poorest pensioners. It is also the fairest option for all licence fee payers as this means everyone will continue to receive the best programmes and services that the BBC can provide.

Over 1.5 million households could get free TV licences if someone is over 75 and receives Pension Credit.

The new scheme will cost the BBC up to £250 million by 2021/22 depending on implementation.

In taking the decision, the Board has been guided by three key principles:

  • Fairness - the potential impact on older age groups and the potential impact on all licence fee payers, across all generations.
  • Financial impact - the cost of any concession to the BBC, and the possible effect this might have on programmes and services.
  • Feasibility - being able to implement any new concession simply and effectively.

The Board’s decision document, updated Equality Impact Assessment and supporting evidence used to inform the BBC Board’s decision are published below, along with those consultation responses which we have been given permission to publish.

If you currently receive a free TV licence, you can read more about what this decision means for you here.

BBC decision

This document describes how the BBC Board has reached its decision, and the factors it has taken into account.

This document gives effect in legal language to how the BBC will implement the policy decision taken by the BBC Board.

Equality Impact Assessment

We are also publishing an updated Equality Impact Assessment which the Board has considered in making its decision.

Consultation responses and supporting evidence

On 20 November 2018, the BBC opened a 12 week consultation on TV licences for older people. More than 190,000 people shared their views with us. These views are set out in four reports commissioned by the BBC. We are publishing these reports in full:

  • A report from Traverse, analysing responses from around 85,000 members of the public to the BBC’s consultation
  • A BBC stakeholder report analysing responses from 115 stakeholders to the BBC’s consultation including surveys such as the one carried out by 38 Degrees which had almost 100,000 responses
  • A report from Populus summarising interviews with 115 stakeholders
  • A report from Ipsos MORI who conducted additional qualitative research with over 250 members of the public

Stakeholder responses

We received 115 responses from stakeholders. Where permission has been given or responses are already in the public domain, these are published below:

Consultation (now closed)

The BBC’s consultation on TV licences for older people was open from 20 November 2018 to 12 February 2019 and is now closed.

Alongside these documents the BBC also published a report prepared by an external economics consultancy, Frontier Economics. This provided some detailed analysis on possible ways to approach the new decision the BBC’s Board had to make. In addition, Frontier Economics published a related discussion paper which discussed the changing landscape since 2000, intergenerational fairness and the changing financial context.