THOUSANDS of pensioners aged over 75 in Gwent will be among millions across the UK who face losing their entitlement to a free TV licence, following an announcement by the BBC.

Under new rules being introduced by the broadcaster, only low-income households where one person aged over 75 receives the pension credit benefit will remain eligible for a free licence.

But there are fears that means-testing entitlement to a free licence will push many of the remaining 3.7million over-75s who currently have a free licence, into poverty.

The BBC said "fairness" is at the heart of the ruling, which comes into force in June 2020, and the move follows a consultation involving 190,000 people, more than half (52 per cent) of whom were in favour of reforming or abolishing free licences.

A TV licence currently costs £154.40 for a colour TV and £52 for black and white.

People who are blind or severely sight-impaired are eligible to a 50 per cent discount.

It is thought that 1.5m households UK-wide will be eligible for the free licence under the new scheme, which will cost the BBC around £250m by 2021/22 depending on the take-up.

Licence fees were being reviewed by the BBC, with the full cost of concession due to be passed to the corporation from government in June 2020.

Facing financial pressures and attempting to streamline, the BBC has said previously that shouldering the burden of free licences would "fundamentally change" the broadcaster.

The threat of scrapping the free licence drew criticism from campaigners who stressed its importance for the elderly.

The charity Age UK has slammed the decision, its director Caroline Abrahams saying that sick and disabled people in their 80s and 90s would be forced to give up their TVs, which many depend on for "companionship and news".


BBC director-general Tony Hall said the move was "not an easy decision", he believes "we have reached the fairest judgment after weighing up all the different arguments.

"It would not be right simply to abolish all free licences. Equally, it would not be right to maintain it in perpetuity given the very profound impact that would have on many BBC services," he said.

The corporation was due to take over the cost of free TV licences from the UK Government as part of its new charter agreement which commenced in 2017.

That shift was being phased in, with sole responsibility set to begin from 2020, when it was estimated to cost the BBC around £725 million.