SCREEN TIME Little-known TV licence rule means thousands of households can save £159 a year before bill hike in WEEKS

HUNDREDS of thousands of households can save £159 a year with a little-known TV licence rule.

Anyone who wants to watch live TV including the BBC, ITV and Sky needs to pay for a TV licence otherwise, they will be breaking the law.

Households who claim pension credit could get a free TV licence
Households who claim pension credit could get a free TV licence

The annual charge for the licence had been frozen at £159, but it is set to rise to £169.50 from April 1 - an increase of £14.50.

But there are some scenarios where you can get a free licence, including if you're on certain benefits.

If you're on Pension Credit and over the age of 75, you might be exempt, meaning you could save some serious cash.

You can apply for the discount on the TV licensing website or by calling 0300 790 6117.

But 850,000 eligible households aren't claiming the benefit, which can make you eligible for a free TV licence.

While not all of these households will be over 75 now, they will be able to bag the perk once they hit the milestone.

Pension Credit tops up State Pension payments up to £201 a week - and it's paid to those who have reached the State Pension age (66) and are on a low income.

You can get extra amounts on top of that depending on your circumstances.

To qualify, you'll need to have a weekly income of less than £182.60 for single people or £278.70 for couples.

Pension credit standard minimum payments are set to rise by 8.5% in April too.

This means State Pension payments will be topped up to £218.15 a week for single households.

We've explained everything you need to know about applying for Pension Credit below

What is Pension Credit and who is eligible?

You can get different amounts of Pension Credit depending on your circumstances.

There are two parts to it, and pensioners can be eligible for one or both parts:

  • Guarantee credit - tops up your weekly income to a guaranteed minimum level. This is £201.05 a week if you're single and £306.85 a week for married couples.
  • Savings credit - provides extra money if you've saved money towards retirement. You can get an extra £15.94 a week for a single person or £17.84 a week for a married couple.

You can also get additional pension credit if you are disabled, have caring responsibilities or have to pay for certain housing costs such as mortgage interest payments.

For instance, you can get either £72.31 a week or £61.88 per week for each child or young person you’re responsible for.

How to watch TV legally without paying for a licence

YOU can legally use the following services without a TV Licence as long as you aren’t using them to watch or stream live TV:

  • On demand TV – such as catch-up TV and on demand previews, which are available through services including ITV Player, All 4, My5, BT Vision/BT TV, Virgin Media, Sky Go, Now TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku and Amazon Fire TV. You can't watch or download programmes on BBC iPlayer without a TV licence.
  • On demand movies - from services such as Sky, Virgin Media, BT Vision, Netflix and Amazon Instant Video.
  • Recorded films and programmes - either via DVD or Blu-ray, or downloaded from the internet.
  • YouTube - Video clips that aren't live through services such as YouTube.

If you have a severe disability you could get an extra £76.40 a week or if you care for another adult you could get an extra £52.75 a week.

To be eligible, you must live in England, Scotland or Wales and have reached state pension age.

But you must also have a low enough income that it needs topping up with Pension Credit.

Your income is calculated based on your state pension allowance, other pensions, your employment and self-employment earnings and some social security benefits, including Carer's Allowance.

But not all benefits are counted as income, including:

  • Adult Disability Payment
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Christmas Bonus
  • Child Benefit
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • social fund payments like Winter Fuel Allowance
  • Housing Benefit
  • Council Tax Reduction

How do I apply?

You can apply for Pension Credit up to four months before reaching state pension age.

Crucially, you can apply any time after you reach state pension age, but your application can only be backdated by three months.

This means you can get up to three months' worth of the benefit in your first payment if you were eligible during that period.

But anything beyond that and you won't get more than three months of backdated payments.

You'll need some personal information to hand when you apply, including your National Insurance number, and details about your income, savings and investments.

When it comes to actually applying, you can do this online on the government's website.

You can also apply by phone by calling 0800 991 234 or by post. The address to send your claim form to is:

The Pension Service 8
Post Handling Site B
WV99 1AN

How will I be paid?

Your benefits are usually paid into an account, for instance, a bank account.

They're usually paid every four weeks.

You’ll be asked for your bank, building society or credit union account details when you claim.

But if you have problems opening or managing an account, you might be able to claim a different way.

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