BBC sparks fury: Over-75s left stressed over licence fee crackdown as Covid cases soar

BBC licence fee: Over-75s have 'had enough' says campaigner

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Since August last year, all over-75s except those on pension credit have been forced to cough up the annual fee to watch the BBC. Elderly Britons, who used to receive a free licence but now have been asked to pay £159 a year.

The broadcaster suspended home visits to those who had not paid the annual licence during the pandemic.

However, the transition period put in place due to coronavirus is set to end from next week.

After July 21 pensioners who are yet to have made the licence fee will be written to by the BBC telling to rectify the situation.

Those who fail to pay the licence face home visits later in the year.

The decision to once again restart enforcement action comes as Covid case continue to soar.

Dennis Reed, director at the campaign group Silver Voices, said older Britons “are feeling under stress” about the ending of lockdown restrictions across England and it would be unfair for the BBC to restart home visits.

“So, it is exactly not the right time for the BBC to be saying ‘okay, the enforcement amnesty is now over’,” he told Express.co.uk.

“The BBC justify their enforcement amnesty on the basis that there was the pandemic.

“They didn’t want to be visiting people during the pandemic and putting extra street on people during the pandemic.

“The pandemic is still with us and a lot more of our members will still be more cautious and stay indoors more as a result of the restrictions being lifted.”

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Government guidance updated ahead of the lifting of most legal Covid restrictions on Monday said those who are clinically extremely vulnerable should avoid those who have not been vaccinated.

Mr Reed said given the guidance will largely impact older people, the idea of strangers knocking on their door about unpaid licence fee bills will be terrifying.

One the easing of lockdown rules, he said: “Basically all our members are feeling under stress as a result of this.

“A lot of people will start locking themselves away again because there is a lot of concern.”

TV Licensing told Express.co.uk it would not restart home visits until the Autumn.

A spokesperson added that their “customer care visits” would following measures aimed at recurring infection risk.

They said: “Customer care visits will begin in the Autumn, subject to any Covid restriction.

“They have been carefully designed for the small number of older customers who may require further assistance making arrangements for their TV Licence.

“Our priority is to protect the welfare of customers and staff, and have introduced a number of strict safety measures to minimise the risk of infection and maintain stringent hygiene standards.”

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