Television Licences: Non-payment

Department for Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered at on 28 June 2023.

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Photo of Lord Smith of Hindhead Lord Smith of Hindhead Conservative

To ask His Majesty's Government whether they have any plans to de-criminalise the non-payment of television licence fees.

Photo of Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)

In February 2020, HM Government launched a public consultation on decriminalising TV licence evasion. The responses highlighted the considerable stress and anxiety the criminal sanction can cause for people, including the most vulnerable in society. HM Government remains concerned that a criminal sanction for TV licence evasion is increasingly disproportionate and unfair in a modern public service broadcasting system.

We will be looking at ways to ensure the BBC’s funding model is sustainable in the long-term, which will include asking whether a mandatory licence fee with criminal penalties for individual households is still appropriate.

HM Government has also taken steps to support licence fee payers, introducing the Simple Payment Plan in April 2020, a flexible payment instalment scheme which allows customers to pay in fortnightly or monthly instalments throughout the year. This is available to certain customers who currently struggle to pay the TV licence fee. More information on the Simple Payment Plan and its eligibility criteria can be found on tvlicensing.co.uk.

The BBC has recently published the findings of its Gender Disparity Review into TV Licence Fee evasion and set out a ten-point plan of action. It is important that the BBC make progress on that plan.

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