The public broadcaster had previously announced controversial plans to introduce a means-tested licence fee for over-75s which would have seen up to 3.7 million pensioners lose out on the free benefit.
However, amid the coronavirus which has seen Brits urged to stay indoors, the broadcaster will push back the testing from June 1 to August 1.
BBC chairman David Clemti said that “now is not the right time” for the change to take place and that these are “exceptional circumstances.”
A further statement from the BBC and the department for digital, culture, media and sport said: “During this time we do not want anyone to be worried about any potential change. The BBC’s priority over the coming period will be to do everything we can to serve the nation at this uniquely challenging time. As the national broadcaster, the BBC has a vital role to play in supplying information to the public in the weeks and months ahead.”
Incumbent culture secretary Oliver Dowden said that he is “pleased the BBC has worked with us and agreed to delay their licence fee changes for over 75s from coming in.” He added that it will be “welcome news to millions of older people” and that “it is right that the BBC have recognised the exceptional circumstances posed by the coronavirus outbreak and the need for the whole country to pull together in the national effort.”
The DCMS Committee chair Julian Knight added: “We welcome this news at what will be a time of great anxiety, particularly for those over 75. Television and radio broadcasts will offer comfort as well as being a vital means for accessing public information.
“However, this delay seems to offer a short-term fix to a much wider problem. What we want is to see is renewed efforts from the Government and the BBC to sit down and resolve this issue once and for all.”
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