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Television Licences

Volume 449: debated on Tuesday 25 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many households in (a) Houghton and Washington, East constituency and (b) Sunderland city council area have been in receipt of free television licences in each year since the introduction of free licences for people over 75 years. (87374)

TV Licensing, which administers free television licences for people aged 75 or over as agents for the BBC, is not able to provide geographical breakdowns of the number of free licences issued. However, the number of households with at least one person aged 75 or over claiming the winter fuel payment in the Houghton and Washington, East constituency in 2004-05 was 4,490, according to Department for Work and Pensions records. Winter fuel payment figures for the Sunderland city council area are not available; however, the figure in 2004-05 for the unitary authority of Sunderland was 15,330.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will introduce a scheme to exempt those staying in respite care from the need to purchase a television licence in addition to the one purchased for their home. (87418)

Television licences for respite care arise principally in relation to the Accommodation for Residential Care (ARC) concessionary scheme. As part of BBC Charter Review, the Government re-examined anomalies within the existing concessionary arrangements, with a special focus on the ARC scheme. In the March 2006 White Paper, the Government acknowledged the shortcomings of the scheme but noted that proposals for change focused on individual anomalies rather than ways to improve the scheme as a whole. Previous changes to correct individual anomalies have done little to improve the scheme as a whole and have tended to create new problems. We therefore have no plans to amend the scheme, or to introduce a separate concessionary scheme for respite care accommodation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what discussion took place between her Department and the BBC about the decision not to renew the contract for renewal and purchase of television licences supplied at post offices. (87429)

The award of the contract was a commercial decision for the BBC as television licensing authority. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport did not therefore have any discussions with the corporation about the substance of the decision. However, DCMS officials were briefed by the BBC prior to the corporation's announcement of the award of the contract on 31 March this year.