BBC licence fee to be frozen for next two years keeping rate at £159

By Claire Schofield
Sunday, 16th January 2022, 1:02 pm
Updated Sunday, 16th January 2022, 1:03 pm
The annual payment normally changes on 1 April each year (Photo: Getty Images)
The annual payment normally changes on 1 April each year (Photo: Getty Images)

The BBC licence fee is set to be frozen for the next two years, keeping it at the current rate of £159.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has said the next announcement about the charge “will be the last”, amid reports the rate will stay fixed until 2024.

The fee, worth £3.2billion annually to the BBC, went up from £157.50 to £159 last year.

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What’s been said?

The annual payment normally changes on 1 April each year, but is expected to remain at £159 until April 2024.

Ms Dorries indicated she wanted to find a new funding model for the BBC after the current licence fee funding deal expires in 2027.

She wrote on Twitter: “This licence fee announcement will be the last.

“The days of the elderly being threatened with prison sentences and bailiffs knocking on doors are over.

“Time now to discuss and debate new ways of funding, supporting and selling great British content.”

The licence fee is set by the government, which announced in 2016 that it would rise in line with inflation for five years from 1 April 2017.

The BBC has previously come under fire over the scrapping of free TV licences for all over-75s, with a grace period on payments due to the Covid-19 pandemic having come to an end on 31 July.

Now only those who receive pension credit do not have to pay the annual sum.

Tory MPs have argued that the fee should be reduced thanks to the success of paid-for streaming services, such as Netflix.

However, the BBC has warned it will struggle to meet the rising cost of programming if the fee does not rise in line with inflation.

The organisation has argued for a rise that is sufficient to cover this cost, which is set to hit 4.4 per cent next year.

A BBC source told the Sunday Times: “There are very good reasons for investing in what the BBC can do for the British public and the creative industries, and the (profile of the) UK around the world.

“Anything less than inflation would put unacceptable pressure on the BBC finances after years of cuts.”