Following the BBC's decision to scrap free TV licence for the over-75s, which came into effect from August 1, it has emerged some pensioners were asked to send bank statements in the post to prove they were exempt from the £157.50 annual fee. Those who receive pension credit are exempt from paying the charge, and officials told some over-75s to send the private document to prove they receive the benefit.
The move has been heavily condemned, but the BBC said TV Licensing offices were not “actively seeking bank statements”.
In response to the measures, Express.co.uk asked its readers if they would be happy to send their bank statements in the post - and the overwhelming majority said no.
The poll, carried out from 4pm-10pm on August 2, asked: "Would you be happy to provide your bank statements to the BBC?"
A whopping 98 percent (5,494 people) of the 5,670 respondents voted "no", with just two percent (150 people) saying "yes".
Under one percent of respondents (26 people) voted "don't know".
Readers then to the comments to explain why they have voted against sending their bank statements in the post.
One person heavily condemned the move, and wrote: "This is an invasion of people's privacy, the only people who can ask to see our Bank statements are the Government, why don't they publish all BBC employees salaries so we can see where all the money from the TV tax goes that would be a better solution to the TV licence."
Another user agreed and said: "A better idea would be if we were to see the BBC employees and contractors incomes and see if they worth paying so much."
A third reader hit out at the measure as an "insult" and suggested those affected contact their MP.
They wrote: "This is an insult and expect illegal, I hope that the pensioners involved contact their MP.
"And, if any pensioner who sent such details is Fraud Attacked then the BBC should pay the amount of the fraud + a sum for the distress caused."
Many other readers suggested people should boycott the BBC and refuse to pay the annual sum.
One person said: "Boycott TV and save £157.50 a year."
Another wrote: "Support the pensioners by defunding the BBC, it's the only way they will listen."
A third simply wrote: "Do not pay it."
A BBC spokesperson said: “We’re writing directly to over 75s households and they do not need to do anything until they have received a letter from us.
"This letter will clearly set out what the recipient needs to do next and offer accessible formats including for those who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired, as well as access to a text service.
"If older people don’t wish to leave their home or can’t go online, call centre staff will prioritise a verbal declaration process to identify if customers are in recipient of Pension Credit.
"We are also giving all over 75s plenty of time to either set up a payment plan or to claim a free licence if they are eligible.
"In either case, no one needs to leave their home.
"TV Licensing are not actively seeking bank statements – this is simply an option and we don’t expect to make very much use of it. The TV Licensing team take extreme care with personal data and have a wide range of measures in place to protect it.”
If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand.