Pension Credit - do you qualify for a free TV licence?

Ollie Bryden | 10/10/2020



The BBC is to go ahead with the plan to end free TV licences from 1st August 2020. The free TV licences will only be available to those aged 75 or older if they are receiving Pension Credit, a means-tested benefit for those on low incomes.

Previously all older people aged 75 or older were eligible for a free TV licence, but the BBC announced in June 2019 this would be restricted to those claiming Pension Credit from summer 2020.

Around 3.7m people are set to lose the free licence once the changes come into effect. However, an estimated 650,000 older people are missing out on Pension Credit even though they are entitled to claim it, and so could still hang onto their free TV licence. Here, we explain how Pension Credit works, who qualifies for it, and how to go about claiming it.

What is Pension Credit?

Pension Credit is a benefit made up of two parts, a Savings Credit and Guarantee Credit. The Guarantee Credit boosts your weekly income to a guaranteed minimum amount, which is £173.75 if you’re single, or £265.20 if you’re a couple (July 2020). The Savings Credit is only available to people who reached State Pension age on or after April 6, 2016 and could give you some extra cash if your income is more than the basic State Pension, or if you have some savings. The maximum Savings Credit you can get is £13.97 a week if you’re single, or £15.62 if you’re a couple (June 2020).

Am I eligible for Pension Credit?

To qualify for Pension Credit, you must live in England, Scotland or Wales and have reached State Pension age. If you’re in a couple, under changes which came into effect earlier this year, both you and your partner must have reached State Pension age, or one of you has reached State Pension age and is claiming Housing Benefit. You can find out more about these rule changes in our blog What are the Pension Credit changes? You’ll only qualify for Guarantee Credit if your weekly income is less than the £173.75 threshold if you’re single, or £265.20 if you’re a couple (June 2020). If your income is higher than this, you could still be eligible for Guarantee Credit if you have a severe disability, are a carer, or have to pay housing costs such as a mortgage.

How many people are missing out on Pension Credit?

Two in five of those eligible to claim Pension Credit currently fail to do so. According to figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) up to £2.5 billion of available Pension Credit went unclaimed in 2017/18. This is equivalent to around £2,000 per year for each family entitled to receive Pension Credit who did not claim the benefit.

To find out whether you might be entitled to claim Pension Credit, you can try this Benefits Calculator, it will let you know which benefits and you might qualify for, as well as how you can make a claim. You can also call Age UK’s free national advice line on 0800 169 65 65, or contact your local Age UK for more information and advice. The website EntitledTo also helps you find out whether you’re eligible to claim Pension Credit.

How do I claim Pension Credit?

To claim Pension Credit, you can call the Pension Credit claim line on 0800 99 1234. You can complete the application from over the telephone, but make sure you have information about your income and any savings, as well as details of your pension and housing costs to hand. You’ll also need to let them know your National Insurance number, your bank account details, and your partner’s details if you have one.

You can start your application for Pension Credit up to four months before you reach State Pension age.

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