by Joe Ventre, digital campaign manager
We’re now almost a month into the new financial year, and rising bills have families worrying about how they’re going to make ends meet. Between a terribly timed national insurance rise, council tax hikes, increasing inflation, and skyrocketing energy bills, it’s no understatement to call this a cost of living crisis.
While everyone notices spiralling costs, it’s easy to forget about the bills which aren’t rising but still pack a punch. I had this experience recently, when my partner and I went through the list of bills to manage for our new flat. After signing up with the energy company, sorting out council tax, water bills and everything else, there was one fee we had both forgotten - the TV tax.
Homes across the UK will have received reminders coming through the letterbox that - on top of everything else - the BBC demands their yearly fee. The fee, at £159, is a lot of money for the average household. In fact, it’s more than the recent council tax rebate given to those who live in band A - D properties. It’s not inconceivable that some people will have received their rebate one day, and had to cough up for their TV tax the next - leaving them £9 short when all is said and done. This is, of course, the case whether they watch the BBC or not.
What does it say that even in the midst of a cost of living crisis, the BBC still thinks that it can get away with leveraging a charge on people for simply owning a telly? We have made this argument time and time again; this system is long past antiquated. They may have frozen their dreaded fee for now, but that’s little consolation for the people who are having to fork out more and more.
At the start of the year, we raised concerns that almost three-quarters of a million people could find themselves prosecuted for non-payment of the licence fee if it survives until 2027; the year in which the Royal Charter ends. Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has previously hinted at the dismantling of the current funding model then but, given the current state of play, many taxpayers simply can’t afford to wait.
With the government pressing ahead with the sale of Channel 4 and making the right noises about the BBC, there is a glimmer of hope that ministers may finally get to grips with publicly-owned broadcasting once and for all. The government should be bold and adopt our proposals for reform. This would free households from the hated TV tax and leave them with more money in their pockets, at a time when it’s needed more than ever.