Martin Lewis issues TV licence warning – are you one of 1.2 million paying unnecessarily?

Yet over one million eligible pensioners are missing out on this important benefit which is worth £1,000s. So, whether it’s you, or you know a low income pensioner, do spread word.


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Currently any household with someone aged 75 or older in gets a free colour TV licence (normally £157.70/yr). 

Last year the BBC announced that from 1 June 2020 it’d scrap that, except for households where the over 75 receives pension credit. That date has been pushed back, due to coronavirus, to 1 August 2020.

If you’re 75+ now and receiving a free licence, TV licencing will contact you in early August to let you know of your options and ask whether you need to start paying or not.

So, the sooner you check your pension credit situation the better.

Who needs a TV licence (regardless of age)?

There’re two main reasons you need a licence:

  1. To watch or record programmes as they’re being shown on any TV channel or watch live on an online version of a TV channel
  2. To download or watch any programmes on BBC iPlayer

If you only ever watch non-live programmes, on any other platform, like Netflix, YouTube or ITV hub, then you don’t need a TV licence. For full help of when to pay and when not, read

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Pension credit is a means-tested benefit

It’s tax free and aimed at those on the state pension with a low income. Yet 40 percent of those who are entitled to it aren’t claiming, meaning up to 1.2million people are missing out on the benefit itself, and a host of other things it entitles you to, including the TV licence.

To qualify, you must live in the UK and have reached state pension age (currently rising from 65 to 66 for men and women).

The system is complicated, so by far the best thing is if you’re a lower income pensioner, just check either via the pension credit calculator or call 0800 99 1234 (in Northern Ireland, phone the Northern Ireland Pension Centre on 0808 100 6165). You can backdate your claim for three months – do request that.

The pension credit is made up of two elements

  • Guarantee credit. If your weekly income is less than £173.75 (single pensioner), or your joint weekly income is less than £265.20 (couple), your income will be topped up to this level.
  • Savings credit. This is mostly only available to those who reached state pension age before 6 April 2016, who have some savings (it’s done so those who saved aren’t disadvantaged by it). You could be eligible for up to £14/week extra (single) or £16/week (couple).


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Pension credit is a crucial gateway benefit

I call it a gateway benefit, as if you qualify it opens up many more discounts too.

  • Council tax reduction – worth £1,000/yr typically. Contact your council, those on pension credit could be (different councils have different schemes) eligible for up to 100 percent reduction of your council tax bill
  • Cold weather payments – worth £25/wk when it’s really cold. This is awarded for each seven-day period of very cold weather (0°C or below) between 1 November and 31 March. If receiving pension credit, the money will be paid automatically

  • Warm home discount – worth £140/yr. Many energy suppliers offer this automatic credit to your bill. You’ll receive a letter between October and December to apply or call the helpline on 0800 731 0214

  • Housing benefit – could be worth £1,000s/yr. When you claim pension credit, you should be asked if you want to claim housing benefit at the same time
  • Free dental care. This could include anything from a check-up to full dentures. Just sign a declaration form when you visit your dentist

  • Voucher for glasses/contact lenses. Ask for the voucher form when you have your eye test

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