Television: Licensing

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 25th June 2019.

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Photo of Marion Fellows Marion Fellows SNP Whip, Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Small Business, Enterprise and Innovation)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the cost to the public purse was of providing free television licences to people over the age of 75 for qualifying residents in (a) the Motherwell and Wishaw constituency and (b) North Lanarkshire local authority area in (i) 2017-18 and (ii) 2018-19.

Photo of Guy Opperman Guy Opperman The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Holding answer received on 24 June 2019

In the 2015 funding settlement, the Government agreed with the BBC that responsibility for the concession will transfer to the BBC in June 2020.

The government and the BBC agreed this is a fair deal for the BBC - in return we closed the iPlayer loophole and committed to increase the licence fee in line with inflation. And to help with financial planning, we agreed to provide phased transitional funding over 2 years to gradually introduce the cost to the BBC.

This reform was subject to public discussion and debated extensively during the passage of the Digital Economy Act 2017 through Parliament.

On 10 June 2019, the BBC announced that the current scheme will end. From 1 June 2020, a free TV licence will only be available to a household with someone aged over 75 who receives Pension Credit.

The table below provides estimates of the costs for 2017/18 of providing free TV licences to people aged 75 and over in the geographical areas requested, in nominal prices. The figures for 2018/19 will be available in September.

Expenditure (£m) (Nominal)

2017-18

(a) Motherwell and Wishaw constituency

£0.85

(b) North Lanarkshire local authority area

£2.95

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