Thank you for your email with your concerns about the future of the free TV licence for over-75s and the debate yesterday. As you will be aware, people over the age of 75 are eligible for a free TV licence, which also covers anyone they are living with. It is estimated that the by 2020/21 the cost of continuing the free TV licences will be an estimated £745 million. At the moment, the Government reimburses the BBC for the free TV licences, but funding of the free TV licence will transfer to the BBC from 2020. It then becomes the BBC's decision whether to continue the concession in its current form.
The Government has made it clear that it wants, and expects, the BBC to continue the concession. The BBC understood the level of commitment required when it agreed to the funding settlement and to take on responsibility for the concession in 2015. In 2015, I understand the BBC commissioned Frontier Economics to explore the long-term options for funding the over-75s concession. Following the publication of its report last year, the BBC consulted on possible options for the future. This was an important step in order to ensure the BBC is aware of the public's views on the subject. I look forward to hearing the outcome in due course.
Here is the link to the full debate: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2019-05-08/debates/6FE9E590-B299-471A-BAAD-A50946D5841D/TVLicencesForOver-75S
The Motion: That this House calls on the Government to honour the Conservative party’s 2017 manifesto promise to maintain free TV licences for the over-75s for the duration of this Parliament by ensuring sufficient funding to do so and, should the BBC propose changes to the concession, to ensure that the proposed changes are subject to parliamentary consent.
The minister present was Michael Ellis, and his concluding remarks can be found at the following: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2019-05-08/debates/6FE9E590-B299-471A-BAAD-A50946D5841D/TVLicencesForOver-75S#contribution-4396E2B0-E478-44F8-BD16-6EA18D224814
His conclusion was that the decision on free TV licences will be left to the BBC in 2020. Yesterday the Conservatives were whipped to not vote on the Opposition Day debate, so the Motion was passed.