The Simple Payment Plan trial launches on 1 April

On 9 March 2018, legislation was introduced which allows us to test a new payment plan.

A leaflet containing the details below for stakeholder organisations will be available in hard copy from 1 April and as a PDF on the TV Licensing website from today. The website also carries information on the plan.

The Simple Payment Plan is for those who find it most difficult to pay the licence fee. Eligible customers will be able to pay for a TV Licence in 12 equal monthly or 26 fortnightly payments. On this scheme only, customers do not need to pay for a first licence in six months, as required under current legislation for cash scheme customers and monthly Direct Debit customers.

The trial begins on 1 April 2018 and the closing date for applications is 30 September 2018. The trial will last for two years.

Importantly, the plan offers flexibility if payments are missed. So if a customer does miss a payment, it can be spread across the remainder of the plan, instead of paying double the amount next time. If the customer misses three months of payments in a row, they will be removed from the plan permanently and will be unable to rejoin it.

Who is eligible?
The plan will only be available to certain groups of customers, identified as those most in need:
  • People referred via debt advice charities listed in the legislation, including Advice NI, Citizens Advice (England and Cymru), Citizens Advice Northern Ireland, Citizens Advice Scotland, Money Advice Trust, and Stepchange. Other charities will be able to refer their clients to one of these organisations, if they think they might be eligible for the plan.
  • People who have previously held a licence which was cancelled within the last six months because of missed payments
  • People who have been interviewed under caution for TV licence fee evasion and so may face prosecution
Those in the last two categories will be invited to join by TV Licensing.
How does it work?
Eligible customers can choose either a fortnightly or monthly payment plan. If the payment plan is followed, payments will average around £3 a week.

Customers can pay:
  • over the counter at any PayPoint location
  • via the website
  • over the phone
  • or via a Paythru link issued via SMS to their smartphone.
Alternatively they can choose to:
  • have payments taken from their bank account every month by setting up a Direct Debit
  • or set up a Continuous Payment Authority (CPA) for payments to be taken from their debit or credit card every month or two weeks.
How do I refer a client to the new payment plan?
If you think that a client might benefit from the plan, you can get in touch with one of the following debt advice charities listed in the legislation and ask the charity to refer your client to the Simple Payment Plan: Advice NI, Citizens Advice (England and Cymru), Citizens Advice Northern Ireland, Citizens Advice Scotland, Money Advice Trust, and Stepchange.  Christians Against Poverty is also listed in the legislation and will refer their own clients to the Simple Payment Plan directly but because of the size and nature of the organisation, cannot take referrals from other organisations.

The debt advice charities listed in the legislation will give eligible customers a code and a phone number to call to join the plan. The code should be quoted when customers call to join the plan. If a debt advice charity client is currently licensed but struggling to pay, they may still join the plan, but they will first have to cancel their existing licence in order to be set up the new payment plan. 
Why were these charities chosen?
The charities already work closely with TV Licensing. They are either large organisations covering the UK, such as Citizens Advice; or they offer advice in a particular nation, such as Advice NI; or they offer a specialist service, such as Christians against Poverty which provides face to face advice and home visits. All provide money advice directly to the public.
Where did this originate?
In July 2015 the Perry Review recommended the DCMS, in conjunction with the BBC, should explore ways of amending the current regulations to allow simple and flexible payment plans for those facing difficulty in paying the licence fee. The BBC welcomed this recommendation and has since been working with the DCMS on the details of the plan.
Be A Part Of The Trial
Harris Interactive will be conducting a survey on our behalf to measure people’s views on the new Simple Payment Plan. In the next few weeks, some of you may get a phone call from Harris Interactive asking you to take part in the survey. It should take no longer than 10 minutes. We would very much value your cooperation as this will help us ensure that your clients’ needs are adequately met.