TV Licencing (TVL) officials have warned they will “enforce the law” if pensioners continue to watch television without purchasing a licence.
Call centres have been set up and 800 new TV Licencing agents have been taken on.
Implementing the scheme will cost £38million in its first year and around the £13million each year thereafter bringing the total to an eye-watering £90million over the next five years.
Letters are being sent to 4.5 million over-75s, and those who fail to pay their TV licence fee have been warned they could face a visit from the bailiffs under Government proposals to replace the criminal sanction for non-payment with a civil penalty.
Critics of the scheme warn such a move could cause additional anxiety to vulnerable people as private bailiffs would have a greater role in collecting the money.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, which has campaigned to protect free licences, said: “We are aware that any decriminalisation of the TV licence enforcement process would in all likelihood lead to greater use of bailiffs to reclaim the money due and that’s one of the reasons why we are wary of any such policy shift.
“It is hard to think of anything more distressing and frightening for an older person than to have a bailiff turn up at their front door, demanding entry.”
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