Money Wellness
Image of a phone with the BBC iPlayer app in focus
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calendar icon05 Dec 2023

Inflation-linked TV licence fee increase could be blocked

Culture secretary Lucy Frazer said yesterday that any increase to the TV licence fee needs to be appropriate as people continue to struggle with the rising cost of living.

The licence fee, which is currently £159 per year, is set to rise by 9% next April inline with inflation figures to £173.30.

It’s the first rise in the fee in two years after it was frozen in 2022.

Speaking to Sky News, the culture secretary said she’s concerned that this is ‘very high’ and said that the BBC must remain ‘value for money’.

400,000 people didn’t renew their licence fees last year which has led to the government conducting a review into how the licence fee works and how the BBC should be funded. It is looking at whether to replace the fee with a new funding model after 2027, when the BBC’s current Royal Charter ends.

The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is also concerned about licence fee hikes, he said that the BBC should be realistic about what it can expect people to pay at a time like this.

“I think it is welcome that the BBC are looking at making savings and efficiencies in how they operate,” he said.

“It is really important that when things are difficult everyone is doing what they can to ease the cost of living on families.

“The BBC like any other organisation that serves the public should be looking to do that and cut its cloth appropriately.”

What is a TV licence?

You pay a fee for a TV licence to allow you to legally watch or record programmes on a TV, computer or other device as they’re broadcast, and to watch on-demand BBC programmes on iPlayer.

Who needs a TV licence?

Anyone who watches the BBC live, or streams it via BBC iPlayer, must pay the fee. In addition, if you watch live TV from any broadcaster (even an international one) – you also need to pay the fee.

You don’t need to pay for a licence if you stream/watch any of the following:

  • Streaming services like Netflix or Disney Plus  
  • On-demand TV through services like All 4 and Amazon Prime Video
  • Videos on websites like YouTube
  • Videos or DVDs

How much does the TV licence cost?

The TV licence costs £159 for both homes and businesses, and £53.50 for black and white television sets.

If you live in a shared household, you need your own TV licence if you have separate tenancy agreements and you watch TV in your own room.

You can have one TV licence for the whole household if you either:

  • Watch TV in a single shared area
  • Have a joint tenancy agreement

What happens if you don’t pay for a TV licence?

It is illegal to watch TV if you do not pay for a TV licence. The fine for watching or recording live TV without a licence is £1,000. If you do not pay this fine, then you can go to prison.

Avatar of Caroline Chell

Caroline Chell

Caroline has worked in financial communications for more than 10 years, writing content on subjects such as pensions, mortgages, loans and credit cards, as well as stockbroking and investment advice.

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