It’s not true that migrants get a free TV licence

18 August 2020
What was claimed

Those who fought on the beaches of Northern France now have to pay for their TV licence.

Our verdict

The free TV licence for most over 75s ended on 1 August 2020.

What was claimed

If you arrive from the beaches of Northern France today you get a TV licence for free, along with a house to watch it in.

Our verdict

This refers to migrants arriving in the UK across the English Channel, and is not correct. Migrants are expected to pay for their own TV licence, and their accommodation can include hostels and bed and breakfasts.

A Facebook post that has been shared 28,000 times claims that pensioners have to pay for a TV licence while migrants get a licence for free. This is not correct. 

The post says: “Funny that those who fought on the beaches of Northern France now have to pay for their TV licence, but if you arrive from the beaches of Northern France today you get it free along with a house to watch it in - Old People’s Lives Matter.”

The mention of fighting on the beaches of Northern France is a reference to the 1944 invasion of Normandy during the Second World War, making it clear the post refers to elderly people losing their free television licence.

Free TV licences for over 75s ended on 1 August 2020 (they were supposed to end in June but this was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic). There are some concessions to this. Households who claim pension credit are still entitled to a free TV licence, while people who are blind or have a severe sight impairment can claim a 50% discount. Anyone who lives in a care home or sheltered housing can apply for an Accommodation for Residential Care licence which costs £7.50. Currently, a television licence costs £157.50 for a year (or £53 for black and white TV sets).

Migrants arriving in this country do not receive a free television licence. Government advice for asylum seekers clearly states: “Your accommodation provider is not expected to provide you with a television, but if you do obtain a television or watch TV programmes online, you will need to obtain a TV licence. This includes watching catch-up TV on laptops or mobile devices. If you watch TV without a TV licence, you could be prosecuted.”

The Facebook post also claims that migrants receive “a house to watch it in”. This is not accurate. Access to social housing varies depending on migrants’ individual circumstances, but non-EU migrants generally have limited access to social housing. While people in the process of claiming asylum (not all migrants) may be given somewhere to live if they need it, this could be in a hostel or bed and breakfast as well as a flat or a house. They are not allowed to choose where their accommodation is.

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as partly false because although most pensioners do now have to pay for a TV licence, migrants do not get one for free.

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