THE BBC has threatened pensioners with bailiffs if they don’t pay the licence fee, after spending £38m on 800 staff to enforce collection.
Bailiffs will be sent into their homes to seize and sell elderly people’s possessions if ministers decide to support replacing the criminal sanction for licence-fee evasion with a civil penalty.
New call centres manned by 800 staff are being set up to deal with questions and some expected resistance from the over-75s about the fee of £157.50.
The BBC is putting tens of millions of pounds towards chasing pensioners for their licence fee payments as the corporation has said it plans to ‘enforce the law’.
Over the next five years setting up the additional services to make sure people pay their licence fee will cost £90 million.
There are around 4.5 million over 75s who will have to pay the licence fee this year. If all of them do it will bring in around £700 million to the corporation’s coffers.
However, the BBC faces a stand-off with tens of thousands of pensioners who ‘will not pay’ for a TV licence as result of its controversial new over-75s scheme.
A campaign group for pensioners revealed many thousands of older people will rebel against the fee.
The National Pensioners Convention said the number of those refusing to pay will be swelled by pensioners under the age of 75 who would also not pay the charge in a show of ‘solidarity’.
Charities have aired their concern about the prospect of bailiffs being used to enforce payment of the fee if it changed from a criminal offence to a civil penalty.
Age campaigners said that the prospect of debt collectors turning up at pensioners’ doors was ‘distressing and frightening’.
Charity Age UK has criticised the BBC for sending out ‘long and complex’ letters to the over-75s about its new TV licence scheme.
The documents fail to make it clear when the elderly will get a demand for payment after millions have lost their right to a free licence.
The changes in who pays the licence fee came into force on August 1st but the broadcaster has only just sent out the first letters telling the elderly what to do.
They will tell pensioners that if the BBC has not heard from them within two months, their licence will be cancelled automatically.