Free benefit checks for over-75s ahead of TV licence change

Elderly caller web

Age Scotland is urging older people to check their eligibility for Pension Credit. 

14th July 2020 by Gavin Stuart 0 Comments

Over-75s are being urged to call a helpline to check if they are eligible for Pension Credit before free TV licences are scrapped next month.

The Age Scotland helpline offers a full benefits check on behalf of older people to identify everything they are entitled to claim, which could include a free TV licence.

It comes after the BBC announced it plans to means test licences for the over-75s from 1 August, meaning they will only be free for people receiving Pension Credit.
According to Age Scotland, two-fifths of people who are entitled to this benefit – about 100,000 pensioners in Scotland – are not receiving it. The charity is now calling on anyone over 75 who is unsure to contact their free helpline and ask for a benefits check.

Brian Sloan, chief executive of Age Scotland, said: "The decision to scrap free TV licences for over-75s is a cruel blow to hundreds of thousands of older people in Scotland and the timing is appalling, coming as it does during an uniquely challenging time for one of our most vulnerable populations.

"Around half of all over-75s are living with a disability and many rely on their TV for companionship and entertainment. During the coronavirus crisis the overwhelming majority of older people have been glued to their TV to stay up to date with what is happening and how it affects them.

"In Scotland nearly a third of over-75s are living in poverty and just above the poverty line. Expecting them to pay a hefty bill with hardly any notice is simply impossible when so many are barely scraping by as it is. We have a real fear that many vulnerable and lonely older people who are faced with the stark choice of whether to pay to watch TV or pay for other essentials, such as heating or food, will choose TV and end up suffering as a result.”

The charity is also highlighting the risk for older people of being targeted by scammers attempting to take advantage of the introduction of new charges. Over-75s have been advised not to reply to emails asking for bank details to pay for their TV licence or give details over the phone to callers who claim to be from the TV Licencing Authority.

Anyone seeking more information on the free benefit check or for advice on scams is asked to call the charity’s helpline on 0800 12 44 222.