South East pensioners hardest hit by Conservative broken promise on TV Licences

Pensioners are paying almost a billion pounds after the Tories broke their promise and scrapped free TV-licences.

Labour is today calling out the Tory hit to pensioners, as their decision to scrap free TV licences will cost over-75s almost a billion pounds.

In the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, 4.4 million households have lost entitlement to a free TV licence in the UK, with 722,019 in the South-East.

On top of rising energy bills, food and petrol costs, many will struggle to afford the extra £159 a year, raising concern they may choose to go without a TV, and risk loneliness and isolation.

The South-East is the hardest hit region, with over 700 000 households losing entitlement to a free TV licence, followed by the South West, North West and East of England, each with over 450 000 pensioners no longer entitled.

Despite promising in 2017 to maintain free TV licences for pensioners, the Conservatives transferred responsibility to the BBC, ending the universal benefit.

Since August 2020, free TV licences have only been available to people in receipt of Pensioner Credit. In the South East of the 819,390 households with someone aged 75 or over (winter fuel payments data 2019/20) and just 97,371 Pension credit claimants (August 2021).

Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Lucy Powell said: 

“The Tory cost of living crisis is hitting pensioners.

“On top of rising energy bills and food prices, many will not be able to afford to keep the TV on, risking isolation and loneliness in old age.

“The Government should support people through the cost-of-living crisis with Labour’s plan for a one-off windfall tax on oil and gas producer profits, rather than piling on tax rises and buy now, pay later energy schemes. Labour is on your side.”

elderly man stares out of window

Do you need a TV License?

You only need one TV Licence per household if you watch or record live TV or BBC iPlayer, even if you use more than one of the devices listed below. A TV Licence costs £159 for colour TV, and £53.50 for black and white.

The law says you need to be covered by a TV Licence to:

  • Watch or record programmes as they’re being shown on TV, on any channel
  • Watch or stream programmes live on an online TV service (such as ITV Hub, All 4, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV, Sky Go, etc.)
  • Download or watch any BBC programmes on BBC iPlayer.

This applies to any device you use, including a TV, desktop computer, laptop, mobile phone, tablet, games console, digital box or DVD/VHS recorder.

Who is eligible for Pension Credits?

To claim Pension Credit you must:

  • Have reached State Pension age (or be living with a partner who has)
  • Be getting Housing Benefit for people over State Pension age
  • Your weekly income should under £177.10 if you’re single
  • Your joint weekly income should be under £270.30 if you have a partner

What counts as income

Your income includes:

  • State Pension
  • Other pensions
  • Earnings from employment and self-employment
  • Most social security benefits, for example Carer’s Allowance

What does not count as income

Not all benefits are counted as income. For example, the following are not counted:

  • Adult Disability Payment
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Christmas Bonus
  • Child Benefit
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • social fund payments like Winter Fuel Allowance
  • Housing Benefit
  • Council Tax Reduction