How to cut cost of TV licence fee

With UK families trying to save money on their household budget, the TV licence has come under the spotlight after it emerged it would rise from £159 to £169.50 in April 2024.

While some have criticised the 6.6 percent rise as a squeeze on families, the increase is in line with inflation, and also comes after a two year freeze imposed by the Government. It is lower than the £15 rise the BBC had wanted.

NimbleFins has found a few ways to reduce the cost of the TV licence, and even get one for free.

Do I need a TV licence?

The licence fee allows users to watch or record live television on any channel - not just the BBC. That means if you watch Sky, Virgin, Freeview or Freesat live, you'll also need a TV licence.

And streaming services are also included if you use them to watch live programming, such as sport on Amazon Prime, or other services like Now TV, Channel 4 or YouTube, even if you pay a subscription.

It also covers use of the BBC iPlayer streaming platform.

Do I need a TV licence to watch Netflix?

You don't need a TV licence to watch Netflix as it doesn't offer live shows, but you may need one for other streaming services.

That's because the TV licence covers the watching and streaming of live television. Services such as Amazon Prime and Now TV offer some live streaming, and that's where you'll need to pay the fee.

Has anyone been fined for not having a TV licence?

Yes tens of thousands of people are fined every year for not having a TV licence. It's against the law to not pay your licence fee if you're watching live television, and failure to do so can see you end up in court and with a criminal record.

The maximum fine someone can be issued is £1,000 plus legal costs. This is £2,000 in Guernsey.

There were 47,622 prosecutions and 44,106 convictions for failing to pay for a TV licence in the 12 months to June 2022, Ministry of Justice figures show. And 70 percent of those prosecuted were women.

Free or discounted TV licence

NimbleFins has uncovered a number of ways to cut the cost of the TV licence fee, or even get it for free.

1. Some pensioners

The BBC used to offer a free TV licence to all over 75s, but stopped doing this in 2020.

However, over 75s on Pension Credit can still get a free TV licence.

To be eligible for Pension Credit someone in your household must have a weekly income of no more than £201.05, or a joint weekly income of £306.85 if you have a partner and less than £10,000 in savings.

Remember you must be over 75, so this doesn’t apply to people of pensioner age but under 75.

To find out if you're eligible for Pension Credit, click here.

You can apply for a free TV Licence online or call 0300 790 6117.

2. Other vulnerable people

The BBC offers large discounts to people who live in residential care homes or sheltered accommodation, are blind or severely sight impaired.

The TV licence prices are:

  • Care home and sheltered accommodation residents: £7.50
  • Blind or severely sight impaired people: £79.50

You can apply for a free TV Licence online or call 0300 790 6117.

3. Accommodation businesses

Businesses that provide overnight accommodation are exempt from paying for a licence fee.

You can apply for a free TV Licence online or call 0300 790 6117.

4. Some second homes

If you have a TV licence at your main address and then go to your holiday home, you'll be covered as long as you watch from a laptop or tablet. Televisions need their own licence though.

In mobile homes such as boats and caravans, you can use the same TV licence as your main residence even with plugged-in devices.

Students living away from home can use their parents' TV licence if only watching from a laptop or tablet. Mains-powered devices need their own licence.

5. Black and white televisions

It's long been known that those with black and white televisions don't pay the full television licence but there is now a catch that comes with this discount.

To qualify for the black and white TV discount you must be using a digital box that can't record programmes. That's because all recordings will be made in colour.

It also doesn't cover you if you download programmes on BBC iPlayer.

Those who have a black and white television that qualifies pay £53.50 for their TV licence.

6. Don't watch live TV

A TV licence is needed if you watch live television on any platform, including streaming services such as ITVX, Amazon Prime, YouTube or Now TV.

However, if you want to just rely on streaming broadcasts after they've been on live then you might be able to live with not having a TV licence.

The cost of a TV licence is £169.50 from 2024, which breaks down to just over £14 a month, not dissimilar to a subscription to Netflix, Amazon or Disney+.

NimbleFins has previously reported how £500m is spent on unwanted subscriptions every year and wrote tips on how to avoid the subscription trap.

How to cancel TV licence

You can cancel a TV licence and ask for a refund, so long as there is at least a month left on it before it's due for renewal.

It may be that you've moved home, were paying for more than one licence, bought one but don't watch live television, the licence holder has died or moved into a care home, or you are eligible for a free one.

You may need to show evidence of why you’re cancelling, such as a tenancy agreement or property completion statement, a letter confirming care home admission, or proof that an over-75-year-old (on Pension Credit) is living at the address.

To cancel your TV licence and ask for a refund, click here.

Read more:


NimbleFins Newsletter

Get energy alerts, deals, tips, news, and more!