Chief Minister Howard Quayle MHK has announced an agreement between the Isle of Man Government and the BBC regarding the funding of television licences for people aged 75 and over.
Under the terms of the new arrangement, the BBC will issue TV licences to eligible pensioners free of charge and contribute to the cost on a phased basis, with a commitment to meeting the full amount from 2020-2021.
The agreement is the final step in the process of reinstating free BBC TV licences for all households in the Island that include a person aged 75 or over. It ensures the age-related concession is now available in the Isle of Man on the same basis as the UK.
In 2015, the Isle of Man Government announced its intention to replace the universal provision of free TV licences for over-75s with a means-tested rebate system. However, Mr Quayle’s administration reversed that decision and introduced a scheme that enabled all those who met the criteria to claim a payment from the Isle of Man Treasury to cover the cost of their TV licence.
The new approach agreed with the BBC means that from 1 April 2018 over-75s in the Island no longer have to buy a TV licence and submit a form to claim the cost. TV licences will be automatically issued by the BBC shortly before the date of renewal.
The Chief Minister said:
‘This agreement is the result of successful discussions between the Isle of Man Government and the BBC. It honours a commitment I made on becoming Chief Minister to push for the reinstatement of free TV licences for our over-75s. This is positive news and will ensure our eligible pensioners enjoy the same deal as their counterparts in the UK.’
‘Studies have shown that television can enhance the quality of life enjoyed by elderly people. It can be beneficial in terms of general wellbeing and social inclusion, as well as providing a source of entertainment and comfort. The agreement with the BBC for the funding of TV licences for over-75s is a welcome move that supports our efforts to promote a caring and inclusive society.’
Prior to 1 September 2016, the Isle of Man Government funded the full cost of providing TV licences for over-75s in the Island.
As part of the new arrangement, the BBC will fund one-third of the cost of a TV licence for subsidised residents* in 2018-19, two-thirds of the cost in 2019-20 and the full cost in 2020-21. The Isle of Man Government will pay the BBC the balance of the total cost for the years 2018-19 and 2019-20.
Further details about the arrangements, as well as information about TV licence payments for pensioners under 75 who are in receipt of income support or income-based jobseekers allowance, is available on the Government website.
The BBC is required, under UK legislation which extends to the Isle of Man, to issue TV licences and collect the licence fee. “TV Licensing” is a trade mark used by companies contracted by the BBC to administer the collection of television licence fees and enforcement of the television licensing system, but as a public authority the BBC retains overall responsibility. Capita is currently contracted by the BBC to manage the TV Licensing system.
The UK’s Communications (Television Licensing) Regulations 2004 were amended with effect from 1 April 2018 to add the Isle of Man back into the provision dealing with free TV licences for over 75s, it having been removed at the request of the previous Isle of Man Government with effect from 1 September 2016.
*Subsidised resident means an Isle of Man resident who is age 75 years or older who:
(i) had attained the age of 75 years on or before the 1 September 2016; or
(ii) attained the age of 75 years after the 1 September 2016 and has been identified by the Social Security Division of Treasury as persons who would have met the criteria for the Isle of Man age-related TV licence rebate scheme from the 1 September 2016 (which has been superseded by the universal rebate scheme for Isle of Man residents from 1 December 2016) by virtue of being in receipt of income support or income-based jobseeker’s allowance (or equivalent if amended or replaced) in the Isle of Man.
The BBC’s contributions for 2018-19 and 2019-20 have been calculated as £250,000 and £480,000 respectively, but uprated in due course for inflation on the same basis as the licence fee.