Around 26.8 million households in the UK have at least one television, and of these, around 5%, equivalent to about 1.34 million households, don’t have a licence to watch them.
According to new TV Licensing figures, more than 400,000 people were caught watching TV without a licence last year, risking prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.
Top excuses for not having a TV licence
Perhaps the most bizarre excuse given to TV Licensing for not paying up was: “Apparently my dog, which is a Corgi, was related to the Queen’s dog, so I didn’t think I needed a TV licence.”
Another complained that, because they had ‘stolen’ the television rather than paid for it, they shouldn’t be liable to pay, while another respondent griped that their three year-old son should have been responsible for the cost because, “he’s the only one who watches it”.
Perhaps the most baffling excuse for not paying up is that the person had ‘recently received a lethal injection’, while another said that they had lost weight, had to buy new clothes, and could not afford the cost of the licence.
“I could not pay as I only have two pairs of pants and they were both in the wash,” said another and, “The Olympic torch was coming down my road and I could not get to the shop as the road was too busy,” said one more.
Perhaps one of the most enterprising excuses came from someone in Dundee, Scotland, who claimed they only use their TV as a lamp. He said; “If you switch it on it gives a good glow which allows me to read my book.”
Others employed emotional blackmail, with one threatening that the only way they could afford to pay for their TV Licence is if they sell their hamster, followed by, “Is that what you want me to do?”
How to pay for your licence
Most of us however, prefer to save the excuses, do the right thing and just cough up. So how much will it cost?
A colour TV licence will set you back £145.50 while a black-and-white licence costs £49. If you want to pay for your licence all in one go, then the easiest way to do this is by annual Direct Debit, which means your TV licence is automatically renewed for you every year.
You can set this up on the TV Licensing website at www.tvlicensing.co.uk, and you’ll need your bank or building society details, as well as your current TV Licence number if you’re renewing.
Alternatively, you can spread the cost by paying in monthly instalments by Direct Debit. You’ll pay for your first licence within six months, in instalments of around £24 a month, and from then on you’ll pay for your licences in 12 monthly instalments of just over £12 months, six before your licence is due and six after.
A third option is to pay by Direct Debit quarterly, which means instalments of around £37 every three months, although this incurs a small premium of £1.25 per quarter which is factored into you’re your monthly payment.
If you don’t want to set up a Direct Debit, you may want to consider paying using a TV Licensing Payment Card. You can use this card to spread the cost of your colour TV Licence by making weekly or monthly payments, with weekly payments costing £5.60 per week. You can apply for a payment card by calling 0300 555 0286.
Once you apply you’ll be sent the card and a payment plan showing when and how much you need to pay. You can pay online, at a PayPoint outlet, by phone or by text message.
Finally, if you don’t want to set up a payment plan or Direct Debit, you can use either a debit card or credit card to pay for your licence online, or over the phone (call 0300 790 6131) using a debit or credit card, or by debit card only at local PayPoint outlets.
What about online?
If you tend to use your computer to watch ‘catch up’ TV you do not need to pay the £145.50 a year for a television licence. However, be warned that if you watch any TV live, even if it is on your computer, you will need a licence.
Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing.