The BBC has announced a decision to end provision of free TV licences for all over 75s from June 2020. From this date, only those receiving Pension Credit will be eligible for a BBC-funded free TV licence.

The BBC estimates that around 1.5 million households with someone aged over 75 receiving Pension Credit could be eligible under the new scheme, which the BBC Board believes is the fairest option to help the poorest pensioners and the fairest option for all licence fee payers.

The new scheme will cost the corporation around GBP 250 million by 2021/2022, depending on take-up. The cost will require some funding to be diverted from spending on programmes and services. The current scheme, where all over 75s get a free TV licence, would have cost the BBC GBP 745 million a year by 2021/2022 and over GBP 1 billion by end of the next decade. The BBC insists that this would have resulted in damaging closures of major services.

To help make the process of applying for a free TV licence simple and straightforward, the BBC will work with older people's groups. It will operate a self-verification system for people to show they receive Pension Credit to qualify. It will also introduce a new payment plan for over 75s who will have to pay for the licence.

In response to the BBC's announcement, Age UK said it would force sick and disabled pensions to give up TV as they will not be able to afford the charge. The group's Charity Director, Caroline Abrahams, blamed the Government for the move, not the BBC, and called on the new Prime Minister to intervene to stop some of the most vulnerable people in society from suffering.

Tom Watson MP, Shadow Culture Secretary and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, also attacked the decision, saying it was an 'outrage' that the Tory Government was breaking a manifesto promise and scrapping free TV licences for 3 million older people. He called on Tory leadership candidates to honour their manifesto commitment from 2017 and retain free TV licences for over 75s, arguing that society cannot 'means test for social isolation....or loneliness'.

The GMB trade union also placed the blame for scrapping of free TV licences for over 75s on the government. General Secretary Tim Roache said the move was 'outrageous and unfair' and accused the Tories of no valuing pensioners by palming off responsibility for free TV licences onto the BBC, and putting pressure on the corporation to cut costs at the same time.