A public consultation has been launched into whether non-payment of the TV licence fee should remain a criminal offence.
Decriminalisation of non-payment of the fee would mean that non-payment would become a civil offence, rather than a criminal offence – non-payment would not become voluntary.
The consultation, announced by Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan, comes just days after it was announced that the cost of the annual TV licence fee will be increasing by £3 from 1 April to £157.50. The move also comes at a time of heightened tensions between the BBC and Downing Street.
Speaking on Wednesday, Baroness Morgan said that many people think that it is wrong that “you can be imprisoned for not paying the TV licence and its enforcement punishes the vulnerable. Announcing the public consultation, which is to last 8 weeks, she said;
“We are launching a public consultation to make sure we have a fair and proportionate approach to licence fee penalties and payments, that protects those most in need in society,”
A new flexible payment scheme is also to be setup to help those struggling to pay for the licence fee.
The public consultation about the licence fee is open to anyone over 16 and will allow members of the public to have their say on the fee.