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North-east households urged to be aware of first TV licence fee rise for three years

By Kyle Ritchie

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Struggling households in the north-east have been reminded to check if they qualify for a reduced TV licence fee ahead of the first rise in three years.

The change, coming into effect from April 1, means that the annual cost of a standard colour TV licence will rise from £159 per year to £169.50.

The plan was announced by the UK Government in December last year. It is the first time that the fee has risen since April 2021, with further increases expected in the next few years.

The TV licence is set to rise for the first time in three years.
The TV licence is set to rise for the first time in three years.

Advice Direct Scotland, which runs the national advice service advice.scot, said the rise could add to the worries of households already struggling with the cost of bills.

The charity is urging people to check whether they could be eligible for a discounted TV licence or if paying in several instalments could help them manage their household budget.

By law, each household in the UK has to pay the licence fee if they:

Watch or record programmes as they are being shown live on any TV channel.

Watch programmes live on any online TV service - for instance, Channel 4, YouTube or Amazon Prime Video.

Download or watch any BBC programmes on BBC iPlayer.

The rules apply to any device on which a programme is viewed, including a TV, desktop or laptop computer, mobile phone, tablet or set-top box.

If you people do not use BBC iPlayer, they do not need a licence to watch non-live programmes, or clips, on streaming services like Netflix or YouTube.

Those who need a TV licence but would struggle to pay £169.50 all at once are able to spread the cost by arranging a monthly direct debit or by paying quarterly instead.

TV licences are also free for those who are aged 75 or over if they or their partner receives Pension Credit. People already receiving Pension Credit can apply when they turn 74.

Those living in residential care or sheltered accommodation can also apply for a reduced TV licence costing only £7.50 per year if they are retired and over 60 or are disabled.

People in this situation should speak to their housing manager, who can check eligibility and apply on their behalf.

People who are registered blind can also receive a 50 per cent discount if the household’s TV licence is registered in their name, bringing the annual cost down to £84.75.

Julie Murphy, project lead for advice.scot, said: “With the current cost of living so high, the increase to the TV licence is another bill which some people may be worried about, but there are discounts and exemptions available.

“We would urge people to check if they or their elderly relatives might qualify for a discount, or perhaps consider spreading the cost of the annual payment over a number of months.

“The TV licence is set to rise annually with inflation until 2027, so unfortunately households are likely to see another increase to their bills this time next year.

“Anyone concerned about paying their bills or falling into debt should know that they are not alone and can reach out to our team at advice.scot for free advice at any time.”

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