PLANS to decriminalise non-payment of the annual TV licence fee are to be shelved.
Ministers had proposed viewers who refuse to cough up £157.50 should no longer face a criminal record.
Plans to decriminalise non-payment of the annual TV licence fee are to be shelved[/caption]
But such a move is not expected to be included in the Government’s response next month to its consultation on future funding of the BBC.
The news will upset Tory MPs who have campaigned for years for this to happen.
But it will be a relief to the Beeb, who warned taking away the penalty of a criminal offence would trigger a major rise in people not paying and blow a £1billion hole in the corporation’s finances over five years.
And it warned “significant cuts” would have to be made.
Currently, people who refuse to pay the fee face £1,000 fines, criminal convictions and even imprisonment, though only five people were jailed in 2018.
The BBC’s decision to end the free TV licence for the over-75s triggered fears that elderly Brits will face the threat of action.
But ministers are said to have delayed the decision over whether to decriminalise until at least 2022.
Former Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan said the existing licensing rule ‘punishes the vulnerable’[/caption]
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Former Culture Secretary Baroness Morgan launched the Government’s proposals in February, saying the existing rule “punishes the vulnerable”.
But last week the media minister John Whittingdale, overseeing the Beeb funding review, said the issue was more complicated than was first realised.
A government source insisted the issue is still “under review”.
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