Coronavirus outbreak forces BBC to postpone free licence fee axe for over-75s

BBC bosses have decided to delay changes to the licence fee system for the over-75s amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The changes would have brought in charges for elderly viewers who might be self-isolating at home.

The BBC and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport issued a joint statement explaining the plans,have been pushed back due to the deadly outbreak.

The changes were due to come into effect in June, meaning pensioners isolation would have been forced to start paying at the height of the crisis.

It read: " The BBC and the Government have been discussing the national Coronavirus situation.

"Changes to the TV licence for people aged over 75 had been due to come into effect on 1 June . But during this time we do not want anyone to be worried about any potential change.

"The BBC’s priority over the coming period will be to do everything we can to serve the nation at this uniquely challenging time. As the national broadcaster, the BBC has a vital role to play in supplying information to the public in the weeks and months ahead.

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"Recognising the exceptional circumstances, the BBC Board has therefore decided to change the start date of the new policy. Our current plan is to now bring it into place on 1 August .

"We will of course keep the issue under review as the situation continues to evolve."

BBC Chairman, Sir David Clementi said: "The BBC board has decided to delay changes to over 75s licence fees.

"We are in exceptional circumstances. Now is not the right time. We are fully focussed on delivering our services to the public at this difficult time."

Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden MP added: "I am pleased the BBC has worked with us and agreed to delay their licence fee changes for over 75s from coming in and will keep this under review.

"It will be welcome news to millions of older people who now don't need to worry about their TV licence during this challenging period.

"It is right that the BBC have recognised the exceptional circumstances posed by the coronavirus outbreak and the need for the whole country to pull together in the national effort."

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