AN ANDOVER councillor has praised government plans to simplify the process for over-75s on pension credit to claim a free TV licence.

The reforms laid in parliament on Thursday (June 23) would mean that over-75s on pension credit no longer have to fill out paperwork when applying for or renewing their licence, which slashes the usual annual £159 cost to zero.

While eligible older people currently have to fill in forms to prove they receive the benefit, the legislative change would allow the BBC to verify this automatically with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) without the need for paperwork.

The move will mean the 7,000 people who apply for a free licence each month will be able to do so more quickly online or over the phone.

It comes after the BBC last year limited the free TV licences to over-75s in receipt of pension credit, which is designed to help with daily living costs for people over state pension age and on a low income.

Cllr Iris Andersen (TVBC, St Mary’s) spoke out at the time about her upset that free licenses for pensioners were being scrapped.

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She said: "I'm appalled to know they took the licenses away from the pensioners because for some, they only have a television to watch. Some don't go out and some of them are housebound.”

Reacting to the recent news, she said: “I am glad to see that the rules are changing. People mustn't forget to claim for their TV licence if they are entitled to it, but hopefully soon they will be getting it automatically.

“This does make a big difference to people, whether they live on their own or are married.

"Lots of people who are being cared for can't get out and they rely on the TV for company. It's very lonely being on your own.”

Announcing the plans, digital secretary Nadine Dorries said: “The BBC’s disappointing decision to stop providing free TV licences for all over-75s has left low-income pensioners who remain eligible jumping through administrative hoops to avoid paying the charge.

“The changes mean those receiving pension credit will get the savings with minimum fuss, ensuring more people get the support they are entitled to as we tackle the cost of living and grow the economy.”

The reforms would amend the Television Licences Act 2000, with the changes to the streamlined application process expected to come into force next year.

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It comes as the Government is reinstating the triple lock on pensions, while opposing above-inflation pay rises for public sector workers on the grounds that they would be inflationary.

Retirees could see double-digit payments increases next year as the state pension will be determined based on September’s CPI inflation, while workers face a real-terms pay cut.

The DWP last week said that around 850,000 households are believed to be missing out on vital pension credit support, at a time when the cost-of-living crisis is hitting people on low or fixed incomes particularly hard.

While more than 1.4 million pensioners are receiving pension credit, many are not claiming this extra financial help that can also be a gateway to other benefits such as the free TV licence.

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