POLL: Thousands of West Norfolk residents could lose free TV licences in BBC review, but is that fair?
More than 10,000 pensioner households in West Norfolk could lose their free TV licence after 2020, according to new data.
The figures follow the launch of a public consultation on the future of the scheme under which over-75s get free licences.
The scheme is currently funded by the government but the responsibility shifts to the BBC in 2020.
The government says it expects the scheme to continue but the broadcaster says that paying for it would take a fifth of its budget and the cuts needed would “fundamentally change the BBC”.
Official figures show there are 12,383 households in West Norfolk that currently qualify for a free licence, costing taxpayers £1.9 million a year.
But the number is expected to rise to nearly 22,000 by 2041, increasing the borough’s bill alone to £3.3 million.
Options being considered include a discount for over 75s, increasing the qualifying age to 80, or restricting free licences to the most needy.
The BBC says it wants to hear from viewers before making a decision next summer.
But charities say they are worried that any change would create major difficulties for many elderly people.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “Despite recent progress, there are still significant numbers of older people living on very low incomes who would genuinely struggle to pay the licence fee if required to do so.”