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BBC to continue giving over-75 TV licence refunds after rule change

Pensioners will not face a deadline of June 2020 to reclaim TV licence fees they've accidentally paid, the BBC has confirmed.

Currently anyone over 75 is eligible to apply for a free TV licence, but many accidentally pay each year and then have to reclaim the cash – with almost £38 million being paid back in three years.

But the BBC plans to end free TV licences for over-75s from next year, unless they get the pension credit benefit.

Last week, when we asked the corporation if pensioners would still be able to claim back cash mistakenly paid under the current rules, it wasn't able to guarantee they'd be able to do this after the rule change in June 2020. 

However, the BBC now says the "existing policy on refunds will continue", so nobody will face a deadline to reclaim money they've accidentally paid under the current rules. 

Unsure if you need a TV licence? See our 20+ TV licence tips.

How to get a free TV licence if you're 75+ (or reclaim if you've paid)

While some may choose not to apply for a free licence and refund on principle, for instance because they want to support the BBC, others simply forget to stop paying, as the free licence for over-75s is not issued automatically and needs to be applied for. 

Once issued, the licence is currently renewed automatically every year, unless you don't have a national insurance number, in which case TV Licensing will get in touch each year to ask you to confirm your circumstances have not changed.

  • If you're over 75 – you can apply for a free over-75 licence on the TV Licensing website or by calling 0300 790 6130. TV Licensing says: "When we process your free over-75 licence application we will also refund any money overpaid", but you may need to provide additional information for this.

  • If you're 74 – you can get a short-term TV Licence to cover you until your 75th birthday. This lets you pay only for the months you have left until you turn 75. Again, you can get one of these on the TV Licensing website.

You can also claim for a licence holder if you have Power of Attorney for them.

TV Licensing will also issue refunds to the estate of a deceased person who has paid for a TV licence when they would have been entitled to a free over-75 licence. You can reclaim as far back as 1 November 2000.

The rules are different in the Isle of Man, where free TV licences have only been available since April 2018. In Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney, over-75s aren't routinely entitled to a free licence, but may be if they meet certain conditions. Over-75s in Sark aren't offered free TV licences.

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