‘Very little progress’ made by BBC to cover free TV licences for over-75s

Concerns have been raised over how the BBC will cope when it begins funding free TV licences for the over-75s.

The concession was paid for in the past by the Department Of Work And Pensions, but the BBC is expected to lose out on more than £725 million in revenue when it takes on the full cost of providing the concession for elderly viewers in 2020.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee said the BBC has made “very little progress” in planning for the drop in revenue.

In a report published today, the committee says: “At a time when the BBC’s finances are already constricted, this is likely to place a great deal of financial pressure on the organisation.

“We are concerned that, despite the BBC Board having had over a year to consult on this issue, they seem to have made very little progress.

“The BBC must start immediate consultation with those who will be affected by the change and must commit to including detailed plans of its proposed actions in next year’s annual report.”

The licence fee changes are already being phased in, and the report says it is expected that the BBC will lose around £200 million in 2018/19. By 2020/21, the figure is expected to be more than £725 million.

Despite competition from Netflix and Amazon, the BBC is being urged not to let its quality drop while preparing to take on greater financial pressures.

More than 4.46 million homes with older residents currently receive a free TV licence, saving them £150.50 a year.

The free licences were first introduced by Gordon Brown in 2001, but during charter renewal negotiations in 2015 ministers pressured the BBC to start shouldering the bill for the benefit.