‘Arrogant and complacent BBC bosses’ under fire over TV licence payments

Talk TV caller thinks BBC should refund licence fee

The BBC has been accused of charging more for TV licences tax on payment plans intended to spread the cost evenly throughout the year.

Pensioners – already stung by the cost of living crisis – have voiced concern over being charged more for their annual licence. Those with a TV have to pay £159 for an annual licence and can pay in full, quarterly or by direct debit each month.

But those choosing, say, the monthly option end up paying out £79.50 extra – half the cost of an annual licence – over the first 12 months.

Dennis Reed, director of Silver Voices, representing senior citizens, said: “The arrogant and complacent bosses of the BBC have done nothing to help vulnerable customers through the cost-of-living crisis, despite pleas special arrangements should be introduced and prosecutions for TV licence non-payment should be suspended. Unlike other utilities, the BBC refuses to consider a social tariff for vulnerable customers.”

Amid deepening hardship, some viwers frightened of a knock at the door by bailiffs have decided to spread the cost and pay monthly or quarterly, instead of upfront.

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Daily Express reader Alan Lloyd, 81, who highlighted the scandal, said: “I telephoned and was informed I would be paying six monthly amounts followed by a further six at a lesser rate.

“A quick mental addition made me think this would cost considerably more than £159, so I asked the adviser to calculate the figure I would be paying over the year.

“Such was the answer, I queried the amount, which was confirmed. The extra was excessive in my view, so I opted for quarterly.

“It seems the BBC are taking advantage, particularly of pensioners like me who previously did not have to pay.” According to TV Licensing, the body contracted to administer cash collection and enforcement, paying monthly spreads the cost in full with payments of £26.50 over six months.

Thereafter, it reverts to £13.25 a month. Over the first 12 months of the plan £238.50 is paid.

TV Licensing said: “Payment schemes are set by the Government and laid out in legislation.

“The monthly direct debit scheme, in which new joiners pay for their licence over six months, then pay towards their next licence over 12 months, is one of several options available to spread the cost. We also offer the Simple Payment Plan, specially designed for customers in financial difficulty, which enables them to spread the cost of a licence evenly.

“We work hard to help people, particularly those in need of extra support.

“We have a duty to collect the licence fee from anyone who requires a licence, and we do our utmost to support customers while treating everyone fairly.”

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The latest BBC licence row comes amid continuing fury at the hounding of over-75s, who were once promised free licences. They claim “threatening” letters are repeatedly sent to those rebelling against the fee.

One elderly rebel has been bombarded by 29 enforcement letters, according to Silver Voices.

It is claimed hundreds of thousands of older people have resisted paying the annual charge, which was free until the concession was axed in August 2020, prompting a vocal backlash.

Cricket legend Lord Botham, 67, has vowed to use his voice in the House of Lords to continue to highlight the scandal.

Former insurance manager Alan Lloyd knows all about “swizzles” – and claims those who pay for their TV licence by instalments are victims.

Mr Lloyd, 81, decided to spread the cost of the annual £159 charge so called up to inquire about monthly payments. He naturally assumed it would cost him around £13.25, the full amount in 12 months equal amounts.

But he was stunned to learn the true cost over a full year would be far greater paying this way – £79.50 more in fact.

Daily Express reader and grandfather Mr Lloyd, who lives with wife Patricia in Hindhead, Surrey, said: “I’m afraid it looks like a swizzle. In the insurance business we would attach 2.5, 3 or 4% to the annual premium rate. It’s colossal and it doesn’t look good.

“This is almost like a money lender attitude, essentially it is a big rate of interest.

“If paying by monthly direct debit a lot of people less tuned in than me will not realise and then find, over the course of 12 months, they will have paid significantly more than those stumping up £159 upfront. By definition, it will disproportionately hit the least well off, elderly and vulnerable, those most frightened of the repercussions of not conforming.

“When I told the friends I play bridge with, they were astonished.

“We have reached the stage of life where we watch a lot of television but, if we had the chance to opt out [of paying the licence fee], I think we would.

“Like a lot of people, we have to watch our money and be careful about how much we spend. “This has left me shocked and feeling like I am being taken advantage of. It’s a procedure introduced to take advantage of people, that’s how I feel.”

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