The rising cost of living in the UK means millions of people are struggling to afford their household bills and for some, even essential payments, like TV Licence fees, are becoming unmanageable.
But while it can feel like you’ve been left in the dark with nowhere to turn, there is help available and the Simple Payment Plan could help you spread the cost of your monthly TV Licence payments for financial peace of mind.
This guide will explain everything you need to know about the Simple Payment Plan, from what it is to how to apply.
What is the Simple Payment Plan?
The Simple Payment Plan helps struggling households spread the cost of their TV Licence payments by paying less, more often.
Eligible households can choose between a fortnightly or monthly payment plan which splits the total annual fee of £159 into smaller, more cost-effective instalments.
Weekly and monthly plans already exist for non-low-income households but require higher payments over the first six months to reduce the risk of non-payment.
The Simple Payment Plan also provides extra flexibility with missed payments spread across the remainder of the year instead of added onto next month’s amount, which is what usually happens. However, households can only miss three payments in a row before they are removed from the plan.
For example, if you pay £13.25 a month and miss a monthly payment, instead of you owning £26.50 the next month, you will just have to pay a little extra for the next few months until the missed payment has been repaid.
How do I make payments with the Simple Payment Plan?
Making payments with the Simple Payment Plan isn’t that much different from how you would make payments with a standard TV Licence.
The only difference is that you’ll make smaller payments on a weekly or monthly basis instead of one big payment every year.
Monthly payment plans work out at just £3 a week and there are several different payment methods to choose from. Direct Debit is the most popular way to pay but other options include:
- Over the counter at a PayPoint store
- On the TVL Pay app
- Over the phone
- On the Simple Payment Plan website
- Through a Continuous Payment Authority (CPA)
Why was the Simple Payment Plan introduced?
The Simple Payment Plan was introduced to help households in financial difficulty spread the cost of their TV Licence payments.
Initially trialled in 2018, it was designed to lower the number of households missing or defaulting on their TV Licence payments.
The annual cost of a TV Licence is £159 which is an upfront fee that thousands of households simply can’t afford to pay.
The Simple Payment Plan, however, can reduce payments to just £3 a week.
Who is eligible for the Simple Payment Plan?
The Simple Payment Plan is only open to households that meet certain eligibility criteria. Customers are eligible for the Simple Payment Plan if they:
- Have been visited by a TV Licensing Enquiry Officer that confirmed they need a licence
- Have previously held a TV Licence that was cancelled within the last six months due to missed payments
- Are experiencing financial difficulties and have been referred by a charity or local authority financial advice department (TV Licensing can accept referrals from not-for-profit organisations but not commercial organisations)
- Have held a Simple Payment Plan licence at some point within the last 12 months
How do I apply for the Simple Payment Plan?
The only way to access the Simple Payment Plan is to be referred by a visiting officer, a letter from TV Licensing, or a registered charity that provides financial advice or counselling.
This ensures only people that are struggling financially and in need of extra help can access the service.
It also means, if you’re eligible, there is no need to send an application and you will be contacted and put in touch with TV Licensing to set up your Simple Payment Plan.
What happens if I don’t pay my TV License?
With further price increases planned for the TV Licence in the coming years, it can be tempting to just not pay it. But what happens when you simply stop making payments?
Because TV Licence fees are considered priority debts, there can be serious consequences for refusing to pay your TV Licence and watching or recording live TV without a TV Licence.
There is a common myth that not paying your TV Licence can land you in prison but this isn’t quite true. The court can only issue you with a fine for not paying your TV Licence.
If you don’t pay or fail to cooperate, you could be handed a prison sentence as a last resort.
If TV Licensing suspect you are watching or recording live TV without a valid TV Licence, they will usually send you a letter before visiting your property to check.
If they can prove you have been watching or recording TV illegally, the maximum penalty is £1,000 (excluding legal costs and compensation).
Can I cancel my TV Licence?
You can cancel your TV Licence at any point if you no longer:
- Watch or record TV on any channel through any TV service such as Sky, Virgin, or Freeview
- Watch live TV on streaming services such as ITVX, YouTube, or Amazon Prime Video
- Use BBC iPlayer for live or pre-recorded TV
This applies to all devices including TVs, smartphones, computers, laptops, tablets, and game consoles.
To cancel your TV Licence, visit the TV Licensing website on tvlicensing.co.uk or call 0300 555 0286 if you pay with a payment card or 0300 790 0368 if you pay by Direct Debit.
If you’re moving home within the UK, Channel Islands, or Isle of Man, there is no need to cancel your TV Licence. Simply change the address on your TV Licence up to three months in advance of your move date to ensure your new address is covered.
the Simple Payment Plan offers a practical solution for households struggling to afford their TV Licence fees. By providing flexibility and manageable instalments, it aims to alleviate financial burden and ensure that individuals can fulfill their obligations while maintaining peace of mind.