TV licence fee to rise by £10.50 a year to £169.50 from April 2024
The annual cost of a standard colour TV licence will rise to £169.50 from 1 April 2024 – an increase of £10.50 on the current price of £159 a year – the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has announced. It's the first increase to the fee since April 2021.
Those who are blind (severely sight impaired) are eligible for a 50% discount on a TV licence, so from 1 April their licences will cost £84.75 a year, a rise of £5.25 from the £79.50 they currently pay.
The cost of a black-and-white TV licence – still watched by over 4,000 UK households, according to TV Licensing figures from March 2022 – will rise by £3.50 from £53.50 to £57 a year from 1 April.
How to beat the TV licence price hike
Unfortunately, if you still need a TV licence (more on that below), there's no way to 'beat' the price rise, but some households may at least be able to defer the increases – if you're able to, it'll largely happen by default...
- Paying for a TV licence in instalments via direct debit or a payment card? You won't be hit by the price rise until renewal. If you're paying the licence fee monthly or quarterly via direct debit, or weekly, fortnightly or monthly using a payment card, you'll continue to make payments towards a total of the current cost of £159, even once the price rise kicks in. You'll only start to pay the new, higher price when your licence next comes up for renewal after 1 April 2024.
- Does your current TV Licence expire before 1 April 2024? Renew it before the new price kicks in. If your current licence is due to expire before the price rise kicks in, say in February or March 2024, renewing it before 1 April (regardless of whether you pay upfront or in instalments) means you won't have to pay the increased cost of £169.50 till your next renewal in 2025 (though you should be renewing on time anyway, otherwise you could face a fine of up to £1,000 for watching 'live' TV or BBC iPlayer without a licence).
- Are you buying a new TV licence? If you're planning to pay for a new licence, and circumstances allow, try to buy it before 1 April 2024 – though do so as close to 1 April as possible, that way it'll ensure you can put off paying the new higher fee for as long as possible. But again, take care not to leave yourself in a situation where you risk watching 'live' TV or BBC iPlayer without a licence.
Of course, you might be considering whether you need a TV licence at all – and if you only watch certain channels on catch-up, you might be able to get away without one. For full info, see our 20+ TV licence tips.
Are you aged 75 or older? Some can get a free TV licence
All over-75s used to be able to get a free TV licence, but this was scrapped in 2020. Now, free licences are only available to over-75s who receive the Pension Credit benefit. To see if you can get a free licence in the UK, go to the TV Licensing website or call its over-75s information line free on 0800 232 1382. And to see if you're eligible for Pension Credit, check out our Pension Credit guide.
Over 75 and live on the Isle of Man or Channel Islands? The TV licence rules are different there – full help in Are you eligible for a cheaper licence?.
Why TV licence prices are rising
TV licence prices are set by the Government. The price rises announced were calculated using an inflation figure of 6.7%, which was the Consumer Prices Index measure of inflation for the 12 months to September 2023.
Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said the increase "provides value for money for the licence fee payer while also ensuring that the BBC can continue to produce world leading content". A review of how the BBC is funded, aimed at "reducing the burden on licence fee payers", has also been launched by Ms Frazer.
In response, the BBC said it had already started making £500 million of savings and reassessing its priorities because of the TV licence fee freeze over the past two years, as well as due to rising inflation, and the corporation said this announcement would impact its budgets and require "further changes".