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Free TV licences (FOI)

Free TV licences (FOI)

Produced by the Freedom of Information office
Authored by States of Jersey and published on 20 April 2017.



Please can you tell me how many households will be affected by the decision to deny over 75's the free TV licence, in terms of the following statistics specifically:


What is the percentage of Islanders in households consisting of adults only over the age of 75 years, who will be affected, as a percentage of the whole population?


How much income will this generate for the jersey government, versus if the vote had gone the other way?


If there is additional income for the government in Jersey, what will this be spent on?


How much will this impact the pensions / income of over 75's per week in monetary terms, per week, in terms of loss of disposable income, on average?


The Social Security Department, Chief Minister’s Department and Statistics Unit were involved in answering this request.


In 2000 the UK government introduced a ‘free’ TV licence for all ‘mainland’ UK residents over 75. This concession was funded by the UK tax-payer. The introduction of this concession was not extended to crown dependencies (i.e. Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man) as each have their own tax-regime.

Currently, ‘free’ TV licences are available to people In Jersey who over 75 and who fulfil the means-testing requirements. The States of Jersey pays the BBC directly for these licences.

In 2016, after lengthy negotiations, the States of Jersey reached a deal with the BBC in which the BBC agreed to contribute to the cost of the current TV licence concession in Jersey. Therefore, instead of the States paying 100% of Jersey’s free licence costs, the BBC will pay for 33% of these costs in 2018, 66% in 2019 and 100% from 2020.

However, in 2020, once the BBC is given control of its own funding, it will review its concession policy. At this point, the BBC has committed to Jersey that all licence fee payers, regardless of geographic location, will be treated equitably in respect of concessions. There is no guarantee that free licences will still be available in the UK.

During negotiations with the BBC, the BBC said that it was not prepared to fund a universal concession for all Jersey residents who are over 75, only those who qualify through the existing system.

The States debate on 28 March 2017 was based on this proposition: “Television Licence Fee: exemption for Jersey residents aged 75 and over (P.117/2016) as amended - paragraph (a)” asked for States members to agree that the BBC should not charge over 75s in Jersey for TV licences, in line with their proposed policy for UK residents and if successful, b) enter into renewed talks with the BBC to make this happen.”

The proposition was rejected so the current system of means-tested free TV licences remains in place and the States of Jersey will go ahead with the funding arrangement already agreed with the BBC.


No decision has been made to deny over 75s a free TV licence as there is no change to the criteria for receiving a free TV licence in Jersey. Therefore no households are affected by this decision. 


No households are affected as the criteria has not changed.

However, for context, there were approximately 1,900 benefit payments for a TV licence in 2016.

In the 2011 census approximately 12% (4,925) of households in Jersey contained an adult over the age of 75.

The deal with the BBC does not ‘generate’ income. Instead it will save the Social Security Department money as the BBC contributes to the cost of the TV licences.

​Year​Predicted cost of ‘free’ TV licenses for over 75s in Jersey
​2018£327,500 of which £90,000 is saved through BBC deal
​2019​£347,800 of which £180,000 is saved through BBC deal

 If the debate had gone the ‘other way’ and the States had decided that all over 75s should receive a free TV licence, the annual cost to the States is estimated to be £720,000 per annum (4,925 households x £147 licence fee). If the BBC refused to fund any additional costs, as it had already indicated, the States would have needed to fund this, creating significant additional cost for the tax-payer.

There is no additional income. During the course of 2017, the Social Security Department will put forward suggestions for reallocation of the savings to other targeted pensioner benefits

No one will lose disposable income as no more or fewer households will be able to claim the TV licence benefit in Jersey than before.

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