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How do you buy new £157.50 TV licence when you are over 75?

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how do you buy new 157 50 tv licence when you are over 75

Over-75s are being reassured they can buy a TV licence without leaving home during the pandemic, after it emerged some felt they needed to post forms or get documents photocopied.

Some elderly people are making postal applications because they are nervous of falling prey to scammers if they do it online or over the phone, according to Age UK.

The charity says feedback from 15,000 people showed most have found the BBC’s new process straightforward to use, although some are reporting financial hardship.

TV licence: A rush of over-75s have already claimed pension credit in order to carry on getting the free perk

TV licence: A rush of over-75s have already claimed pension credit in order to carry on getting the free perk

TV licence: A rush of over-75s have already claimed pension credit in order to carry on getting the free perk

All but the poorest over-75s lost the right to a free TV licence this summer, and must pay £157.50 this year unless they qualify for pension credit – find out how to apply here. 

The BBC postponed axing the perk due to the coronavirus outbreak, after the Government withdrew funding for it in June, but the extension ended on 1 August.

‘Some of the stories we have heard from older people who do not receive pension credit and who are living on a low income are extremely upsetting,’ says Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK.

‘It’s awful to think of an older person having to choose between buying a TV licence or going to the dentist, or being forced into debt in their 80s or 90s just to keep watching TV.’

The charity says most older people sending it feedback found the BBC’s new process straightforward to use.

However, a minority experienced problems, and Age UK is sharing the information with the broadcaster to make the system as easy as possible. 

It identified the following problems.

Why are free TV licences being axed for over-75s? 

Charter renewal negotiations between the Government and the BBC in 2015 safeguarded the licence fee system for funding the broadcaster.

The Government boosted the BBC’s income by requiring iPlayer users to have a licence, and unfroze the licence fee for the first time since 2010.

But as part of the deal, the BBC agreed to take over responsibility for bankrolling free licences for the over-75s. This would cost it an estimated £745million in 2021/2022 alone, and force it to drastically cut services.

It therefore announced plans to ditch the free perk for an estimated 3.7million people, while around 1.5 million households will remain eligible if they claim pension credit.

A rush of over-75s have already claimed pension credit in order to carry on getting free TV licences. This has caused a knock-on £600million rise in Government spending on pension credit, This is Money revealed earlier this year. 

1. Some older people felt the need to leave their homes to post back forms or get supporting documents photocopied, and though all the transactions required to get a licence or an exemption can be done by phone and online, not all had heard this yet.

2. There were reports that some are feeling overwhelmed by the information and choices, and find hard to wade through the details posted to them by TV Licencing.

‘The new scheme includes various different payment options, to offer choice, but this necessarily makes it complex and the information quite lengthy,’ says the charity.

3. A number of people encountered difficulties paying online or by using the automated telephone payment processes.

4. Fear of scams is making some very nervous about falling prey to fraudsters while applying for their TV licence.

This is deterring some from paying online or over the phone, and encouraging them to use the post when they would rather have stayed safe during the pandemic by remaining indoors, according to Age UK.

5. Some are feeling anxious about dealing with something new in the midst of a pandemic.

Separate recent Age UK research found about one in three older people are finding living through the crisis really tough, and it heard from significant numbers who were deeply anxious, lonely and depressed.

‘It is therefore not surprising that this survey of over-75s generated a number of responses indicating that the stress of dealing with a new TV licence scheme was being keenly felt, especially at a time when they were worried about other things, the pandemic above all,’ says the charity.

6. Some over-75s are struggling to cope with the cost of a TV licence, and are in acute financial difficulty and deeply troubled about having to pay for a licence, it says.

How do over-75s apply for a new TV licence? 

TV Licencing has information and frequently asked questions for older people who need a licence here. 

It has a free telephone line giving recorded information to help over-75s – the number is 0800 232 1382.

TV Licensing is offering a £3 a week payment plan, and it has Covid-safe processes in place which you can find out about on 0300 790 6151.

Age UK has a help page on TV licences here and it urges any older person who is struggling financially to get in touch on 0800 169 65 65. 

What have hard-up pensioners told Age UK about losing free TV licences?

I don’t get pension credit but am on a low income and I have to pay a contribution to my care fees [I am 92 years old]. My heating costs are huge and I had trouble paying last winter. Paying for my TV Licence is just going to make it even harder for me and I am very worried about it. I can’t go without TV because I am housebound and here all day mainly on my own. I feel very depressed about my financial problems. Dorothy

I found it extremely difficult and out of fear and pressure I had to borrow money to pay for the licence. This is a disgraceful situation to expose elderly people to hardship after the promises of a free TV licence. Jean

It has hit me financially and will take me several months to put the money back into the envelopes that I save for electric, gas, insurances and other household bills. I was hoping to be able to afford to go to the dentist now that we are able to. Unfortunately, I will not be able to afford even the NHS charge now I have had to redirect the money to a TV Licence. Jackie

Now with all the other household expenses rising the cost of TV licence is becoming prohibitive. But it is my only contact with the outside world. I shall have to pare down my spending in order to afford the licence. I don’t know yet where from as everything is at rock bottom – no treats or unnecessary expenses. Sad to have reached this state at the end of my life. Esther

STEVE WEBB ANSWERS YOUR PENSION QUESTIONS

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We had to start taking money from our food money per month to try and start saving. David 

What does Age UK say?

‘This feedback confirms that while most over-75s have so far coped well with the new TV licence process, some have had problems,’ says Caroline Abrahams of Age UK.

‘In response to these findings, Age UK will now work with the BBC to try to make their new scheme as easy as possible for all older people to navigate and we will also do everything we can to get the message across that no older person should worry about leaving home to get their new licence, they can do it all by phone instead.

‘Older people have more than enough to be concerned about at the moment without the added anxiety of believing, mistakenly, that they have to go out to post a payment form or obtain a photocopy to show they’re on pension credit.’

‘We always knew that some older people would find it really stressful using a new TV licencing process, but it’s the inevitable result of the Government’s decision in 2015 to taper their funding away until by 2020 all of it had gone.

‘The upshot is that everyone in this age group now has to make a decision and do something new: buy a licence, certify they are eligible for a free one because they receive pension credit, stop watching TV, or choose to break the law.

‘That’s an unfair ask in our view, and we deeply regret the distress caused to some older people as a result – in this year of all years.

‘The situation is however the direct consequence of decisions ministers made five years ago, which this Government has declined to overturn, despite repeated requests for them to do so.’

Abrahams goes on: ‘These survey findings show once again that the Government should never have passed responsibility for free over 75s’ TV licences to the BBC without the money to pay for them.

‘Sadly, it’s the older people who are most vulnerable and alone, with no one to help them, and others on low fixed incomes, who are losing out the most.

‘Age UK told the Government repeatedly that this would happen but unfortunately our warnings were ignored.’

What does the BBC say? 

A TV Licensing spokesperson said: ‘We will continue to work with Age UK to do all we can to make the scheme is easy to use and safe.

‘More than two million households have now successfully set-up a paid for licence and we will continue to implement these changes with the greatest care, including consideration of the survey feedback.

‘No one needs to leave home to apply for a free or paid TV licence as everything can be done online or on the phone – and we are currently running a national radio campaign to increase awareness.

‘We also appreciate this is a tough time for a lot of people, which is why we have protected the most vulnerable on pension credit and put in place payment plans from around £3 per week to help spread the cost for those who do have to pay.’

The Government was approached for comment but had not responded by the time of publication

TOP SIPPS FOR DIY PENSION INVESTORS

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Northern regions battle to host new National Infrastructure Bank

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northern regions battle to host new national infrastructure bank

The race is on across the north of England as leaders compete for their regions to become the seat of two economic hubs.

Rishi Sunak yesterday unveiled plans to set up a National Infrastructure Bank that will be based in the North.

The move comes on top of the Chancellor’s proposal to build a Treasury output in the region. 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak yesterday unveiled plans to set up a National Infrastructure Bank that will be based in the north

Chancellor Rishi Sunak yesterday unveiled plans to set up a National Infrastructure Bank that will be based in the north

Chancellor Rishi Sunak yesterday unveiled plans to set up a National Infrastructure Bank that will be based in the north

Northern leaders are now pushing the case for their areas to host the two hubs, with the North East and North West thought to be pushing particularly hard.

The infrastructure bank will fund projects that promise to help the UK reach its ‘net zero’ carbon targets by 2050 and its ‘levelling up’ agenda.

The plans were outlined as part of Sunak’s wider spending review, which laid out how the Government aims to repair the UK economy in the wake of the Covid crisis.

The bank will be up and running by next spring but Sunak did not say where it would be based or how much money it will have.

Conservative MP Jake Berry, former Northern Powerhouse minister and head of the Northern Research Group of MPs, said: ‘There’s likely going to be a lot of stiff competition from regions and leaders.

‘What’s important is that it’s being placed in the North, which shows a commitment by this Government to the region and the levelling up agenda – and a move away from Government jobs and departments focused almost entirely on London.

‘It is also good news when you consider the recent announcement that 22,000, well-paid civil service jobs will be moving out of London and the South East.’

The Chancellor has also promised to build a Treasury outpost in the North.

Designs for the ‘economic campus’ are thought to have been submitted for buildings in areas including Darlington and around Teesside, but a final location has not been confirmed. The plans are some of the firmest commitments yet that the Government will shift power out of London.

Pressing his case: Middlesbrough mayor  Andy Preston

Pressing his case: Middlesbrough mayor  Andy Preston

Pressing his case: Middlesbrough mayor  Andy Preston

Ministers have also promised to put £4billion towards a fund, which could back local projects in all regions.

While the competition to attract the bank and Treasury outpost will be fierce among MPs, mayors and councils, the race could also create friction if ministers opt to place them in major cities.

Ben Houchen, Conservative mayor for Tees Valley, which is a major hub for heavy industries, said: ‘It’s important that the Government takes the bold decision to base the bank outside of a northern city.

‘Having officials from the bank based outside one of our metropolitan centres will give them a new mindset and allow them to understand the whole country so much better and the different challenges our towns and villages face – which would not happen if the bank was set up in a city like Newcastle, Leeds or Manchester.’

Andy Preston, the independent mayor of Middlesbrough, said: ‘Levelling up is decades overdue so it is fantastic to finally see it being tackled. 

‘Middlesbrough has suffered more than anywhere from political neglect and incompetence. We deserve to host this new bank. 

‘The Government should invest in Middlesbrough now and I guarantee them a huge and positive return.’

Under Sunak’s plans, an additional £27billion will be spent next year on infrastructure such as roads, cycle paths, railway lines and power stations, in many areas tying in with the green strategy Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last week.

The push is part of plans to plough £100billion into areas such as schools, hospitals and banks in total next year, and £600billion over the next five years. 

The Government, in rebounding from Covid, wants the UK to ‘build back better’ by improving motorways, laying better internet cables and building more wind farms.

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Taxpayer faces £40bn bill as cost of emergency loan schemes soar

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taxpayer faces 40bn bill as cost of emergency loan schemes soar

The taxpayer could be saddled with a £40billion bill as thousands of loans handed out under emergency government schemes turn sour.

The Treasury watchdog confirmed that losses under the Bounce Back loan scheme, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and the larger CLBILS will be greater than feared.

In the worst-case scenario, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) thinks the taxpayer could end up covering £40billion that companies fail to repay.

Loans burden: Treasury watchdog the Office for Budget Responsibility  has confirmed that losses under emergency business loan schemes will be far greater than first feared

Loans burden: Treasury watchdog the Office for Budget Responsibility  has confirmed that losses under emergency business loan schemes will be far greater than first feared

Loans burden: Treasury watchdog the Office for Budget Responsibility  has confirmed that losses under emergency business loan schemes will be far greater than first feared

This is much worse than the £33.7billion of losses the watchdog predicted as possible in July. 

Even under the OBR’s more moderate base-case scenario, losses will hit £29.5billion – £12.6billion more than was predicted. 

It comes as banking industry bosses warn that billions of pounds of Government money is being lost to fraudsters.

Virgin Money chief executive David Duffy said yesterday that his bank had decided to only hand out Bounce Back loans to existing customers in order to reduce fraud.

He added: ‘There is an environment out there where we know there’s been a lot of fraud, and what we’ve been very happy to do is lend to those customers who we have a relationship with and know.’

The Bounce Back loans, aimed at businesses with turnover of up to £200,000, involve banks carrying out few checks but come with a 100 per cent government guarantee.

The scheme has so far lent £42.2billion to 1.4m small companies. 

The Treasury was warned multiple times about the risk of fraud, but pushed ahead because it worried businesses were going to the wall during lockdown and desperately needed the cash.

Part of the reason that losses under the three emergency loan schemes are now expected to be higher is because the British Business Bank (BBB), which is administering the schemes, expects more businesses to go bust. 

The government-backed BBB estimates that a staggering 5 per cent to 20 per cent of the large businesses who have borrowed under CLBILS could default on their debt.

Less surprisingly, it thinks 10 per cent to 25 per cent of smaller CBILS borrowers and 35 per cent to 60 per cent of Bounce Back borrowers will become unable to pay back their debt. 

The Government has agreed to cover 80 per cent of any losses which lenders suffer under the CBILS and CLBILS schemes and 100 per cent of losses under the Bounce Back scheme.

The other reason why losses are higher is because the schemes have been extended.

When Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed a second lockdown for England at the start of this month, Chancellor Rishi Sunak pushed back the deadline for applications under the three loan programmes from the end of November to the end of January, to help businesses stay afloat.

The OBR now thinks total borrowing under the three schemes could hit £87billion by the time they close, up from the £65.5bn which had been lent on November 15.

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Use British steel for £27bn infrastructure spree, industry chiefs urge

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use british steel for 27bn infrastructure spree industry chiefs urge

Industry chiefs have urged the use of British steel for infrastructure work.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak plans to spend an extra £27billion on projects next year, and billions more in coming years on roads, railways and power stations.

Huge volumes of raw materials will be needed and steel bosses want the Government to prioritise procuring metal from the UK, to create and sustain jobs and help repair the damage that Covid has wreaked.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak plans to spend an extra £27bn on projects next year, and billions more in coming years on roads, railways and power stations

Chancellor Rishi Sunak plans to spend an extra £27bn on projects next year, and billions more in coming years on roads, railways and power stations

Chancellor Rishi Sunak plans to spend an extra £27bn on projects next year, and billions more in coming years on roads, railways and power stations

UK Steel director general Gareth Stace said: ‘The huge levels of promised spending must now deliver the largest possible return fortaxpayers’ money by maximising the UK content of these major projects.’

It comes a week after Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled a green strategy to build eco-friendly homes, wind turbines and nuclear power plants.

Both plans could reinvigorate ‘foundation’ industries that produce the raw materials.

UK steel has struggled over the past few years and some firms, such as British Steel, have collapsed. 

The UK makes 7.3m tonnes of steel a year. Around 32,600 people work in the sector.

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