Home Business News TV Licence: Four/10 people in the UK don’t know what they are paying for

TV Licence: Four/10 people in the UK don’t know what they are paying for

by LLB staff reporter
9th May 24 9:18 am

As of April 1, 2024, the price of a standard colour TV Licence will rise to £169.50 per year.

This is a £10.50 increase on the current annual fee of £159, and is unwelcome news for many in the midst of the cost-of-living crisis.

New data collected from FCA-regulated credit broker Viva Money revealed that 43% of UK adults don’t know what a TV Licence is for, with a further 15% admitting to watching live TV without a licence at some point.

The nationally representative survey of 2,000 people in the UK also discovered that 66% of the British public agree that the TV Licence should be scrapped in 2027.

Dan Whittaker, personal finance expert at vivamoney.co.uk, explains all you need to know about the rising TV Licence fee, and shares what you can do to save money.

What exactly does a TV Licence fee cover?

‘We recently conducted a survey and asked the British Public to reveal what services they believe are covered in the TV Licence fee,’ Dan explains. ‘43% of those surveyed stated that they thought a licence was needed to watch on-demand services such as ITVX, All4, and My5, with a further 24% believing that one is also needed to cover on-demand programmes on Disney+ and Netflix. 12% advised that a licence is needed to watch videos on YouTube.

So, what exactly arewe paying for?

‘You need a TV Licence if any of the following apply to you:

  • You use BBC iPlayer;
  • You watch or record live TV as it’s being broadcast on anychannel; or
  • You use streaming services to watch live TV, including ITVX and Amazon Prime Video.

This includes watching TV on alternative devices, such as your computer or smartphone.’

What happens if I don’t pay my TV Licence?

‘If you don’t have a valid TV Licence, you will receive a letter requesting you either make a payment or provide an explanation of your reason(s) for believing you do not need one. If they feel it’s necessary, TV Licensing could visit your home to check.

“If you continue to watch TV without a valid licence, you could receive a court summons where you could be fined up to £1000, plus any additional court costs, as well as the price of a TV licence.

However, with 7% of our survey openly admitting that they watch TV without a valid licence and a further 8% unsure of whether they have done at some point in the past, it shows that this is a risk the public may be willing to take.

Dan adds, ‘With so many channels and viewing options now available, the rules can get a little confusing, and you may not even realise that you need a TV Licence. It’s always best to check, rather than miss payments and be hit with a fine further down the line. You can use this handy questionnaire on the TV Licensing website to find out.’

Are there any available discounts?

‘You can claim 50% off your TV licence if you are registered blind or severely sight-impaired, or you live with someone who is,” Dan says. “To apply for the discount, you will need to obtain a certificate stating that you are registered blind or sight impaired from either your ophthalmologist or local authority. You should then post the certificate along with your name, address, phone number, TV licence number, licence renewal notice, and cheque to:

TV Licensing

Blind Concession Group


BS98 1TL.

‘If you’re aged 75 or over and get Pension Credit, or live with a partner who does, you are eligible for a free TV licence. You can apply for your free TV licence online, or by calling 0300 790 6071 – charges may apply.

“Discounts may also be available to people who live in selected sheltered accommodation and residential care. Your care home manager should be able to check to see if you are eligible for a £7.50 licence, and will be able to apply on your behalf.’

What to do if you’re struggling to pay for your TV Licence

‘Many of us have been affected by the rising cost of living. If you’re struggling to pay, you should contact TV Licensing as soon as possible. Their website states that they understand that some customers may find paying for a licence difficult, and they pledge to do everything they can to help. There are various payment plans to consider, which may help ease the pressure. Head over to TV Licencing’s website for more information.

‘Talking openly about money can be daunting, but it’s important to remember that help is always available. You can find free, impartial money and debt management advice on sites such as Citizens Advice, StepChange, MoneyHelper, and National Debtline.

‘The TV Licence is set to be abolished in 2027, which will come as welcome news to many, with 66% of our survey agreeing with the plans to scrap the fee.’

How can I save money on my TV licence?

Consider black and white

‘This won’t suit everyone, but switching your licence from colour to black and white could save you over £100 a year. The current cost of a black and white TV licence is £53.50 a year, but will also be subject to a rise of £3.50 on April 1, taking the annual cost up to £57. Interesting, data released in 2023 shows that approximately 4,000 UK households still watch the box in black and white.’

Apply or renew before April 1, 2024

‘If you’re planning to buy or renew your TV licence in the coming months, you may benefit from doing so before the new, higher fees are introduced. This way, you will lock in the previous rate for another 12 months.’

Reassess your situation

‘In 2020, it was revealed that 1.35 million households in the UK were without a television. For many, life without a TV is incomprehensible. On the other hand, if you rarely fire up the box and feel you could cope perfectly well without it, ditching it for good could be a savvy money saver. Remember though, you will still need a TV Licence if you plan to watch live TV, live streaming services, or use BBC iPlayer on other devices, including your phone, computer, and tablet.’

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