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Big rise in TV licence debtors – over half a million pounds owed

14 March, 2013

New figures from StepChange Debt Charity show a steep rise in the number of people with TV licence debts. In 2012, the charity helped 7,593 people with TV licence arrears, owing a collective £500,355. This is a 56 percent increase on the number of people seeking help in 2011. 

With 20 people contacting the charity with TV licence arrears each day, owing an average of £66, the charity is raising concerns that people may not be aware of the potential consequences of falling behind with priority bills like a TV licence.

The problem is most acute among lone parents, who account for almost a quarter (1,765) of those with arrears on their TV licence. 

The charity is regularly seeing people who are being fined between £100-150 for not paying their licences. If the fines are not paid, they could find themselves in court.

Taking action

StepChange Debt Charity’s external affairs director Delroy Corinaldi said: “It’s perfectly understandable that paying for a TV licence might appear a low priority in a household where finances are already stretched.  What people may not realise is that the consequences can be serious, including fines, bailiffs, attachment of earnings (under which creditors can get a court order to have payments taken from wages) or even imprisonment.

“We urge anyone struggling with TV licence payments or other priority arrears to contact StepChange Debt Charity, where one of the first steps is to draw up a budget that prioritises the payment of such bills”.

A spokesman for TV Licencing said “TV Licensing has a comprehensive community engagement programme, which ensures people who are experiencing financial difficulties know all of the payment options available to them.  

"For people who may find it difficult to pay in one go, we offer cash payment schemes. Depending on individual circumstances, people can pay as little as £3.00 to £5.60 per week towards their TV Licence on one of these schemes. Payment schemes can be set up very quickly online or over the phone. We always work in close cooperation with our customers to ensure they remain correctly licensed.

“If people decide to watch TV without being properly licensed, they risk prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000. How this fine is issued and collected is a matter for the courts."

Contact the the StepChange news team on:

Tel: 0207 391 4598

Mobile: 07950 469 101

Email: press@stepchange.org

Follow our press team on Twitter: @StepChange