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How to get a TV licence for free and save £159 a year as fee set to be frozen

Mirror logo Mirror 17/01/2022 Emma Munbodh

A major reform of the BBC licence fee could see the annual levy frozen for the next two years and then completely restructured from 2027.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said the next announcement about the BBC viewing levy "will be the last", suggesting it could be completely shaken-up, potentially replaced with a Netflix style subscription service instead.

The licence fee is set by the government, which announced in 2016 that it would rise in line with inflation for five years from 1 April 2017.

Over-75s can get a free TV licence © Getty Images Over-75s can get a free TV licence

Right now, an annual licence costs £159. A black and white licence costs £53.50 a year.

Raising it in line with inflation, now 5.1%, would see the cost colour access rise to £167. After two years at the same rate, it would have hit £175.

The warnings come just under two years after the government revoked free access for over-75s, instead linking it to pensioners on benefits.

As plans for a shake-up get underway, we take a look at who qualifies for a free TV licence and what groups are exempt from it already below.

Should access to the BBC be free for all? © BBC/Jack Barnes Should access to the BBC be free for all?

Who can get a free licence now

There are several ways to pay less for your TV licence.

For example, anyone who's blind (severely sight impaired) can get half price TV licences.

That also means, anyone who lives with someone who is registered as sight-impaired can also get their TV licence for half price too, if they transfer it to the blind person's name.


Video: What alternatives are there to the BBC licence fee? (Daily Record)

Apply by filling in an online form at tvlicensing.co.uk/blind or by contacting TV Licensing on 0300 790 6112.

There are also more than 7,000 people in UK are still watching television in black and white, more than 50 years after the advent of colour programming.

Black and while licences cost £53.50 more than £100 cheaper than a full licence.

Care home residents can also qualify for a concessionary discount - costing just £7.50. However, residents, staff and residents’ families all need a separate licence for their own living area.

This is known as an Accommodation for residential care (ARC) licence. The charge applies per room, flat or bungalow.

Oh, and if you’re not watching or recording live TV, you don’t need a licence - unless its BBC iPlayer.

So catch-up TV, streaming or downloading programmes after they’ve been shown or programmes available online before being shown on TV don't require a licence.

But if you watch or record any live TV - no matter the device - you need one.

If you're over the age of 75, you can still get a free TV Licence if you receive pension credits.

If you are elderly, live in the UK, and earn less than £177.10 a week as a single person or £270.30 a week as a couple, including pensions, savings and work, then you could be entitled to state support.

To claim pensions credit you need to live in England, Scotland or Wales and you and your partner - if you have one - need to be 65 or over.

When you apply, they work out your income and if it's less than £177.10 a week, the Government will top your income up to that level.

To work out your income they look at:

  • State pension
  • other pensions
  • most social security benefits, for example carer’s allowance
  • if you have savings or investments over £10,000, the Government treats each extra £500 as £1 a week income
  • earnings

The good news is the calculation does not include:

  • Attendance allowance
  • Christmas bonus
  • Disability living allowance
  • Personal independence payment
  • Housing benefit
  • Council tax reduction

Slightly different rules apply in Northern Ireland, which you can read here.

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