Scrapping of free BBC licence fee for over 75s delayed until August in response to coronavirus outbreak

The universal free TV licence for over-75s will end on August 1 instead of June 1 in light of the coronavirus outbreak, the BBC and the government has announced.

A joint statement said: "The BBC and the Government have been discussing the national coronavirus situation. Changes to the TV licence for people aged over 75 had been due to come into effect on June 1. But 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.

"Recognising the exceptional circumstances, the BBC Board has therefore decided to change the start date of the new policy. Our current plan is to now bring it into place on August 1. We will of course keep the issue under review as the situation continues to evolve"

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know

The news comes after ITV News's Political Editor Robert Peston reported on Saturday that people over the age of 70 will be instructed by the government to stay in strict isolation at home or in care homes for four months, under a "wartime-style" mobilisation effort, likely to be enforced within the next 20 days.

It is planned the free benefit will be restricted to over-75s who claim pension credit, with the BBC saying it cannot afford to take on the financial burden from the Government.