Decriminalising non-payment of licence fee being considered
The government will be “reviewing” whether non-payment of the BBC licence fee should be decriminalised, the prime minister’s official spokesman has confirmed.
Reports at the weekend suggested the issue was something Boris Johnson was considering looking into.
Treasury minister Rishi Sunak said on Sunday the PM has “instructed people to look at that”.
This was confirmed by Mr Johnson’s official spokesman during a regular Westminster briefing with journalists.
A TV licence currently costs £154.50 per year for a colour TV and £52 for a black and white TV set.
In the last financial year, 25.8 million households had TV licences, bringing in a total of £3.6bn to the BBC.
A review could recommend replacing the existing criminal sanctions for non-payment with a civil system of fines.
The issue came up during the general election campaign, with Mr Johnson saying he was “looking at” abolishing the licence fee altogether.
He said that while the Conservatives were “not planning to get rid of all TV licence fees”, the system “bears reflection”.
The PM also claimed the BBC should “cough up” and fund free TV licences for over-75s.
The current royal charter, which sets out the governance of the BBC, runs until December 2027.
Meanwhile, the PM has signed off on a parliamentary report into alleged Russian meddling in UK democracy.
Mr Johnson has cleared the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) report, which means it can be published when the committee reforms after the return of MPs to parliament.
The government came in for fierce criticism for its refusal to publish the report ahead of the election.
The PM’s official spokesman said: “In line with his responsibilities under the Justice and Security Act 2013, the prime minister carefully considered the report of the former committee.
“He is content publication would not prejudice the functions of those bodies that safeguard our national security.
“Publication will be a matter for the new ISC in due course.”