Scotland has highest rate of BBC licence fee dodgers in UK

Scotland has the highest proportion of households failing to pay the BBC licence fee in the UK, research suggests.

BBC Scotland headquarters at Pacific Quay in Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin

An estimated 10 per cent of premises north of the Border are evading the £150.50 annual charge which funds the public media giant, compared to six per cent in England and Wales.

BBC bosses are now drawing up plans for stronger licence fee enforcement after research found the number of evaders has risen sharply since 2014-15, The Times reported.

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Figures published by the House of Commons Library found the overall “evasion rate” jumped from five per cent to seven per cent last year.

Around 28.5 million licences are in force at present, with an estimated 1.9 million households thought to be dodging the charge.

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The licence fee and how it is spent in Scotland has proved a controversial issue in recent years, with claims the BBC was failing to commission enough Scottish content and not accurately reflecting the increased powers of the Scottish Parliament in its news coverage.

The issue has been a source of tension between the broadcaster and the Scottish Government, which has repeatedly called for more money raised in Scotland to be spent in the country.

Analysis by the Scottish Parliament’s Information Centre (Spice) last year found the BBC raised just under £324m last year from licence fee payers in Scotland, but spent £223m – 69 per cent – in Scotland with the remaining £101m directed to headquarters.

Such criticisms were one of the driving forces in establishing a new BBC Scotland channel, which is due to begin broadcasting next month.