MILLIONS of pensioners will soon have to pay for their TV licence, but Martin Lewis has explained how to still get it for free by applying for pension credit.
The money guru appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain today and criticised the BBC’s decision to scrap the perk for pensioners and for choosing “the benefit that is one of the worst claimed benefits”.
1 Martin Lewis is encouraging Brits to apply for pension credit if they’re eligibleCredit: Good Morning Britain
On Monday, the BBC announced that over-75s will no longer automatically get free licences from June next year.
Only those households where at least one person receives pension credit – around 900,000 currently – will not have to pay.
Martin said that estimates show that 40 per cent of pensioners who are eligible for the benefit don’t claim it, meaning up to 1.3million people could be missing out.
He’s now encouraging Brits to start “a national conversation” about it so that more people get the money they’re entitled to.
Martin said: “Let’s hope the BBC uses all its communication resources to communicate to people that they should be claiming pension credit.
“That should become part of the main campaign next May when it changes.”
He’s already started the conversation himself, and appeared on TV to explain how you can claim pension credit and get a free TV licence.
How to watch TV legally without paying for a licenceIN the UK, any household watching or recording live television must hold a TV licence.In recent years, this has been extended to include BBC programmes on iPlayer, whether they are live, catch up or on demand. But does everyone really need a licence? Here’s the lowdown on how to avoid paying – legally.
On demand TV – like catch-up TV and on demand previews – which are available through services like ITV Player , All4 , My5 , BT Vision/BT TV , Virgin Media , Sky Go , Now TV, Apple TV, Chromecast , Roku and Amazon Fire TV
On demand movies – from services like Sky, Virgin Media, BT Vision, Netflix and Amazon Instant Video
Recorded films and programmes – either via DVD or Blu-ray, or downloaded from the internet
YouTube – On demand video clips through services like YouTube
Pension credit is a means-tested benefit that helps those on lower incomes by giving them extra money throughout retirement.
It’s available for people who are over the state pension age, who live in England, Scotland or Wales.
This is currently rising to 66 for both men and women.
Martin said: “Pension credit has two elements, and it’s effectively a top-up for pensioners to make sure they have enough money coming in.
“The first one, the main one, is called the guarantee element.
“It effectively says, if you as a single person have less than £167 worth of income per week or as a couple less than £255 per week, you’re entitled to a top-up by the state to get you that.
“The income could be from pensions, jobs or savings if they’re over £10,000,” Martin added.
The second element is called the savings element, he continued.
This tends to apply to people who started their pensions before 2016, and can be worth £600 to £700 a year.
It’s given to those who’ve saved a bit of money towards retirement, but still have low weekly incomes, Martin said.
He added: “What it does is that is says, ‘Hold on, your savings haven’t given you anything if we just topped you up to the pension guarantee level’.
“They wouldn’t have meant anything to you, so it wouldn’t have been worth saving.
“So it gives you a little bit of extra credit for the fact that you’ve got savings, so your savings mean you’re at least better off than someone who doesn’t have any savings.
“Otherwise it’d disincentivize you from saving.”
He concluded by encouraging viewers and their loved ones to “make this sea change” and to call up the pension credit claim line straight away.
How to apply
The pension credit claim line can be reached on 0800 99 1234. It’s open Monday to Friday from 8am to 7:30pm.
You’ll need some information to hand before you make the call, including:
Your national insurance number
Information about your income, savings and investments
The details for the account you want the money to be paid into
The earliest possible date to apply is four months before you reach your state pension age.
If you claim after you reach pension age, you can backdate your claim for up to three months.
How much you’ll be paid depends on your individual circumstances.
Fortunately, there is a helpful Government calculator, which will tell you exactly what you can expect to receive.
You’ll need to have a lot of financial information to hand including details of your earnings, benefits, pensions, savings and investments.
You’ll also need the same information for your partner if you have one.
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The decision by the BBC sparked outrage this week, and hundreds of thousands of Brits have signed petitions calling on the broadcaster to scrap its plans.
Prime Minister Theresa May has also demanded BBC to rethink the decision.
While charity Age UK has earlier warned that the extra bill could trigger “great worry and distress” to vulnerable pensioners.
Piers Morgan slams BBC for scrapping free TV licences for pensioners saying they should ‘U-turn and cave on this’
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