Cessation of Prudhoe Town Council TV Licence Grant Scheme for those aged 65 and over.....
17 January 2019

Cessation of Prudhoe Town Council TV Licence Grant Refund Scheme for those aged 65 and over.

The TV Licence Scheme was launched in 1980 by Prudhoe Town Council.  It was said to be the second such scheme in the country, the first having been set up by Sheffield City Council. The initial licence grant was for £12 per application, paid to qualifying residents in the form of TV Licence stamps.  Until 2008-9, the value of the grant was £15 per licence, but it was then raised to £30.

Over the years there have been a number of changes to the administration of the scheme, the result being that the council now pays £30 cash to those eligible residents who seek the grant, following eligibility checks being carried out by the Karbon Homes customer services desk in the library.

The Scheme is not means-tested, providing you are a Prudhoe resident, in receipt of state retirement pension and have paid your TV licence, the £30 refund will be paid over.

At its meeting last night, the council considered the future of the scheme, taking into consideration the following points:

That the council has to be able to satisfy itself that the benefit of the scheme is proportionate to the expenditure incurred.

That further changes are required to the administration of the scheme in view that Karbon Homes is no longer able to support the council, and following questions from the council’s external auditor.

That the council should ensure that all those entitled are aware of the scheme through better advertising and should budget accordingly.We currently commit £12,000 in the budget to this scheme.

That currently all those entitled to the £30 grant do not claim it.Based on the last published census the cost would be £32,850 if they did (1,095 population between age 65-74).

In June 2020 the Government will cease to fund the free TV Licence for the over 75’s and the decision as to whether it continues will be taken by the BBC.It is probable that the BBC will not support this, subsequently increasing the likely number of claimants.

In considering the above points, the council agreed at its meeting last night that the TV Licence Refund Scheme should cease at the end of the financial year. 

Councillors were mindful that if better publicised the scheme could result in a far greater expenditure than the council had ever committed to the scheme and therefore a bigger burden on the council tax payers of Prudhoe.

Councillors were concerned about the impact on those in real need of discontinuing the scheme, but in view that it is not means-tested were accepting that there was no way of establishing this.

The refund will continue to be paid until 31st March 2019 to those who have not have not already claimed in the current financial year.

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