Brits face highest BBC licence fee increase in over 20 years

The BBC has found itself at the centre of a new storm after it was revealed that the licence fee could be raised by the most in more than 20 years.

Campaigners have warned that the expected £13 increase will only “strengthen the resolve” of pensioners who have refused to pay since free TV licences for most over-75s were abolished.

It has renewed calls to abolish the annual charge, set by the Government, which critics branded “decades out of date”.

According to Dennis Reed, director of Silver Voices, there is “a lot of concern” because the licence fee is already more than a week’s basic state pension, which is a “huge amount” for older people.

Mr Reed said: “I don’t think there’s any justification for raising the licence fee during a cost of living crisis and it’s still going to be a crisis in a year’s time.

“It’s bound to increase evasion and it’s bound to increase the number of people who are criminalised because they can’t afford to pay the fee.

“But also it will definitely strengthen the resolve of the hundreds of thousands of over-75s who still have not paid the licence fee since the free licence was scrapped two years ago.

Mr Reed called for the Government to launch a consultation on what will replace the licence fee ahead of the current royal charter ending in 2027.

He said: “At the moment everybody seems to be waiting for 2027 to come along and there doesn’t appear to be any sort of live consultation going on at the moment about what should replace it.

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“It definitely needs replacing by something because it is the most regressive tax that there is, just being a flat rate with no regard to the ability to pay.”

Following a two-year freeze, the licence fee is set to rise in line with inflation in April 2024.

The Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasted this week that the figure used would be 8.2 percent, raising the levy from £159 to £172.