The BBC is plotting a radical overhaul of the system of "free" TV licences for the over-75s.
Under current arrangements any household with an occupant aged 75 or older is entitled to a "free" TV licence, which is actually paid for by the Department and Work and Pensions. The total cost of these TV licences is around £750m per year.
Under the terms of its next Royal Charter the BBC will begin shouldering some of the cost from 2018/19. The BBC will be fully responsible for funding the over-75 TV licence from 2020/21, so naturally wants to do so as cheaply as possible.
Reports today suggest that the Director General of the BBC, Tony Hall, is secretly plotting to remove the perk from any over-75 household with an occupant in work.
Such a move would see 600,000 households, currently in receipt of a "free" TV licence, being forced to pay the normal £145.50 TV licence fee. The change would save the BBC about £83m at today's prices.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, described Lord Hall's proposals as "the thin end of the wedge", citing research that shows that television is the main source of companionship for almost half of over-75s.
The Government is expected to publish its long-awaited white paper on BBC charter renewal in the next week or so.
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