Over 50,000 Scots missing out on free TV licence

Pensioners across Scotland have been urged to take advantage of changes to the pension credit system which allows them to continue to receive a free television licence, amid warnings that more than 54,000 Scots are missing out on their entitlement.

Tens of thousands of Scots eligible for pension credits are missing out on free television licences.
Tens of thousands of Scots eligible for pension credits are missing out on free television licences.

Changes to the licensing scheme have meant that those aged 75 and over had to start paying the licence fee as of the start of August, but there is an exemption in place for those in receipt of pension credit.

However, it is estimated that only six in ten (61 per cent) pensioners are claiming their entitlement to the means tested benefit, meaning that hundreds of thousands of people across the UK are currently missing out and will lose their free TV license as a result.

Research by Turn2us, a national poverty charity, estimates that as many as 54,193 Scots are affected, with the number rising to 589,491 across the entire UK.

Its analysis of date found that Glasgow was the local authority where the most pensioners are missing out, with 8,649 people not claiming their entitlement.

Turn2us, which provides practical information and support to people facing financial difficulty, said that more than 3,000 pensioners across Edinburgh are also failing to take up their free licence,

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Anna Stevenson, the charity’s welfare benefit expert, said: “Pension credit is a lifeline for older people stuck on low incomes in retirement, and now it is the only route to getting a free TV license. So it is more important, now than ever, to claim it.

“The extra income, and so called ‘passport-benefits’ that pension credit unlocks, can go a long way to helping many older people keep their head above water and avoid being pulled into poverty.”

She added: “We urge everyone of pension age to use the Turn2us benefits calculator and find out if you are entitled to pension credit then make that claim.”

As of March 2019, there were 4.6 million free TV licences in the UK, accounting for 17.6 per cent of all licences. If everyone claims their pension credit, Turn2us, added, around 1.5 million households with a pensioner over the age of 75 would have a free TV license moving forward, as well as a potentially significant weekly payment through the credits system.

The pensions credit benefit is made up of two parts – guarantee credit and savings credit. Guarantee credit tops up single people’s weekly income by £173.75 and couple’s weekly income by £265.20.

To qualify, you must live in the UK, have a weekly income of less than the top-up amounts ,and have reached state pension age. Savings credit is only available to those who reached state pension age before 6 April 2016.

Guy Opperman, the minister for pensions and financial inclusion, also urged people to check their eligibility.

He said: “Currently, 1.5 million older people across Great Britain receive extra financial help through pension credit. But there are still a significant number of older people who might be missing out.

“We’re keen to get the message out there that everyone should claim the benefits they’re entitled to and I would encourage anyone who thinks they might be eligible for pension credit to check.

“It only takes a few minutes for people to check that they are getting all they’re entitled to. Visit gov.uk/pension-credit or call 0800 99 1234.”

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