OAP Brits who refuse to pay their TV licence may face BAILIFFS as the BBC splurges £38million on staff to collect the £157.50 bill.
The Beeb has hired 800 agents and set up new call centres to collect the fee and deal with queries.
It is believed the Corporation will spend £38million on the scheme and £13million a year after – coming to a total of £90million over the next five years.
Age campaigners have described the idea of debt collectors banging on the doors of the nation’s elderly as “distressing and frightening”.
Others have vowed not to pay – despite facing possible criminal prosecution and even jail time.
It is common for debt collecting services or bailiffs to be hired if members of the public refuse to pay a bill, with personal possessions confiscated to cover the cost.
Currently the BBC does not have bailiffs on its TV Licensing team but a spokesman said there is a need for an “enforcement system” to ensure people do cough up.
As a universal service we need an enforcement system with appropriate sanctions otherwise it is unfair to those who do pay.
A BBC spokesperson said: “Decriminalising the licence fee could cost the BBC up to £1 billion over five years and have a big impact on programmes and services.
"The vast majority of people pay the licence fee voluntarily, but as a universal service we need an enforcement system with appropriate sanctions otherwise it is unfair to those who do pay.
A detailed Government-commissioned review has already found the current system is the fairest and most effective."
Sixteen-page letters are being sent out to 4.5million pensioners over 75 and inform recipients they have two months to respond or their licence will be cancelled automatically.
The document also offers the chance to cancel existing licences if they no longer record live TV or watch BBC Iplayer.
TV Licensing agents are prepared to visit the homes of pensioners who refuse to pay up, the BBC said.
TV Licensing has a duty to enforce the law on behalf of those who pay
A spokesman explained: "When TV Licensing is informed a property does not need a licence, our records are immediately updated to reflect this and no further letters are sent for approximately two years.
"TV Licensing may visit the address to verify the situation. TV Licensing does its best not to trouble genuine non-viewers.
“TVL never presumes guilt, but people do sometimes say they do not need a licence when they do. TVL has a duty to enforce the law on behalf of those who pay."
But age campaigners are now launching plans to disrupt the scheme in protest.
Silver Voices, a lobbying group for the over-60s, is launching its Gum Up The Works campaign.
They are asking members to come up with “creative ways” of throwing a spanner in the works for the BBC fee collectors.
Dennis Reed, director of Silver Voices, told the Telegraph: "We have been getting a fantastic response. People have been coming up with interesting new ideas.”
He added: “Imagine if 100,00 or 200,000 pensioners managed to delay their payment by four or five months, what that would do to the cash flow.
“Up until now, the Government has been blaming the BBC, and vice-versa. There needs to be some discussion about a solution."
Imagine if 100,00 or 200,000 pensioners managed to delay their payment by four or five months, what that would do to the cash flow.
Jan Shortt, of the National Pensioner’s Convention, said her members were prepared to face a day in court for the cause.
But she added: “We cannot condone people breaking the law.
“But, individually, each member will take their own choice. There will be people who refuse to pay.”
The BBC agreed to make over-75s exempt from the fee back in 2015 after an agreement was hammered out with the Government.
The subsidy will continue to be offered to over-75s on pension credit – which includes those on a weekly income below £173.75 and couples on less than £265.20.
But Corporation bosses have since said the BBC cannot afford to continue the universal entitlement, which would hit "programmes and services".
The move has been slammed by campaigners and politicians with Boris Johnson saying the Beeb has made the “wrong decision”.
An official spokesman for the PM said last month: "We recognise the value of free TV licences for over-75s and believe that they should be funded by the BBC."
Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, said it was a “sad day” for elderly Brits who feel like they are being “let down” by the government and the BBC.
She said that "more than half a million of the poorest pensioners will still have to pay for a licence, cut spending on other essentials like food or heating, give up TV altogether or keep watching without a licence, in breach of the law" because they still do not qualify for pension credit.
She added: "It is deplorable that any older person should have to make such a horrible choice.”
It is deplorable that any older person should have to make such a horrible choice.
However, the BBC said maintaining the subsidy would cost £745million a year and would lead to the closure of BBC Two as well as other channels and radio station.
A spokeswoman said: "It was the Government that ended funding for over-75s TV licences" and that the "BBC has made the fairest decision possible to support the poorest, oldest pensioners".
She added: "Critically, it isn't the BBC making judgments about poverty – the Government sets and controls pension credit.
"The decision to start the new scheme in August has not been easy but delaying the introduction has cost the BBC over £70 million and we cannot afford to delay any further.
"Continuing with the Government scheme would have cost £745 million a year and rising and would have meant the closures of BBC Two, BBC Four, the BBC News Channel, the BBC Scotland channel, Radio 5 Live, and a number of local radio stations.
"These closures would profoundly damage the BBC for everyone, especially older people who use the BBC the most."
A Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport spokesperson said: "We are bitterly disappointed by the BBC's decision not to extend the over 75 licence fee concession beyond August.
"The BBC remains responsible for the concession and for setting out what those affected will now need to do. It must now look urgently at how it can use its substantial licence fee income to deliver for audiences of all ages, including by making efficiencies."
The DCMS says the Government agreed a deal with the BBC in 2015, which the director-general said provided "financial stability".
Source: Read Full Article