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Little-known TV licence rule could save you up to £159 a year

HOUSEHOLDS could save up to £159 a year with a little-known TV licence rule in a rare bit of good news for squeezed budgets.

A TV licence currently costs £159 a year or £53.50 for a black and white television.

Households could save £159 a year with this TV licence rule

You need one if you want to watch or record TV programmes while they are being broadcast live rather than on catch-up.

It also applies to watching anything on BBC iPlayer, even if you’re streaming on demand.

But TikTok user @frugalspender, who shares money saving tips for his 70,000 followers, said some households may not need to pay at all.

In a recent video, he said: “If you don’t watch live TV channels at any time, you really shouldn’t be paying your TV licence.

“If you just watch TV on demand services like Netflix, you could just tell TV Licensing that you don’t need one.

And in many cases, you can get a refund for the time that you haven’t needed one.”

You don’t have to pay the licence fee for streaming-only services such as Netflix.

You also don’t need a licence if you use services such as ITV Hub, All 4, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV, Sky Go and more, to stream shows on demand or through catch up.

It comes as Netflix has launched an ad-free package at a lower price of £4.99 a month to help make its service more affordable to customers struggling against a cost of living crisis.

But be careful, as you do need a TV licence if you’re watching shows being broadcast live on these services.

And if you watch any BBC programmes at all, whether live or streaming or downloaded them on-demand, including on BBC iPlayer – then you automatically have to pay the fee.

Can I legally watch TV without a TV licence?

Watching live TV or anything on iPlayer without paying for a licence is a criminal offence.

If you’re caught without one you need to pay in full as soon as possible or risk prosecution, plus a fine of up to £1,000 (£2,000 in Guernsey or £500 in Jersey).

You can be jailed for non-payment of a fine imposed by the court.

But if you’re absolutely sure you no longer need one you can formally let TV Licensing know.

Although there’s no legal obligation to do this, it will prevent them sending you reminders.

The first thing to do as part of this process is cancel your payments.

If you pay by direct debit you can cancel it by filling out TV Licensing’s contact form, confirming you no longer watch TV along with your current address.

You’ll also need to cancel your direct debit with your bank.

If you pay with a TV Licensing payment card, you’ll need to call 0300 555 0286.

Everyone who no longer requires a TV licence should then fill out a “No Licence Needed” declaration form.

Make sure you keep the confirmation email from TV Licensing as proof.

You may also be eligible for a refund if you won’t need your licence again before it expires, and you have at least one complete month left on it. Just fill in the request a refund form.

TV Licensing may visit your property to ensure you are telling the truth and no errors have been made.

The bureau says these inspections find one in five who have cancelled their TV licence actually still need one – that’s around 900 households a day.

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