Half a million over 75s with dementia will have to pay for TV licences

Half a million over-75s with dementia will have to pay for their TV licences, research suggests as charity fears people living with Alzheimer’s will be isolated from the wider community

  • The BBC says it cannot afford the £745million-a-year cost of over-75 TV licences
  • But more than half a million over 75s with dementia will have to pay for a licence
  • More than 100,000 dementia sufferers who will have to pay are aged over 90

Half a million dementia sufferers over 75 could have to pay for a TV licence next year, research suggests. 

Free licences for over-75s funded by the Government will end in 2020.

In 2015, the BBC agreed to pay for the change, but it now says it cannot afford the £745million-a-year cost, and instead will only offer a free licence to those over-75s on pension credit.

The BBC says it now says it cannot afford the £745million-a-year cost, and instead will only offer a free licence to those over-75s on pension credit. Free licences for over-75s funded by the Government will end in 2020 [File photo]

Research by the House of Commons library estimated that 552,000 older people who suffer from dementia – 140,000 of whom are over 90 – may have to pay the £154.50 annual fee for their a TV licence or face prosecution.

Using official data, researchers worked out that 682,000 over-75s had dementia, and removed 19 per cent to account for those eligible for a free licence because they were on pension credit.

Gavin Terry, of the Alzheimer’s Society, said TVs were important to older people, adding: ‘It’s vital this change is rolled out in a way that is easy to access for people with dementia so they remain connected to the community.’

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: ‘We’re disappointed with the BBC’s decision. We expect it to continue this concession.’

Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour Party, which commissioned the study, said: ‘It is a national scandal that over half a million older people living with dementia could have their free TV licences scrapped next year.

‘The process of applying for a TV licence will be difficult to many older people – especially those with dementia. This is a tragedy in the making for vulnerable people in our communities.’

A BBC spokesman said: ‘Some people are vulnerable and it’s important to provide additional support and reasonable adjustments for these customers. We want to… offer as much help as we can.’

Research by the House of Commons library estimated that 552,000 older people who suffer from dementia – 140,000 of whom are over 90 – may have to pay the £154.50 annual fee for their a TV licence or face prosecution [File photo]

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