PUBLISHED: 14:12, Tue, Sep 15, 2020 | UPDATED: 16:26, Tue, Sep 15, 2020
The BBC's annual report, released today, warned the delay led to a "substantial shortfall" that has forced it to revise its savings targets. Last month, the BBC sparked fury by pressing ahead with its decision to scrap the universal free TV licence for the elderly age group. The Corporation is now means-testing the entitlement, meaning over-75s must receive pension credit to receive the free TV licence, which costs £157.50 per year.
The broadcasting giant had delayed the changes to the free benefit due to the coronavirus pandemic sweeping through the country.
In 2015, the BBC agreed to take on responsibility for funding free TV licences for over-75s as part of the charter agreement with the Government, but now insists it cannot afford to continue the universal entitlement.
Now in the Corporation's annual report, BBC chairman Sir David Clementi lashed out at the delay of introducing the TV licence fee for the elderly age group, warning it is partly to blame for the Beeb revising its savings target by more than £100million
He wrote: "The BBC must always remain open to debate on its future, but it must be part of a proper conversation with audiences. Any debate must start by asking what kind of BBC our audiences want, and them ask how best to deliver and fund it.
BBC news: Bosses have hit out at delay to over-75s licence fee in the annual report (Image: GETTY)
BBC news: Most over 75s lost the benefit of a free TV licence (Image: GETTY)
"All this takes place against the backdrop of major financial pressures ion the BBC. Going into the coronavirus crisis, the BBC already had 31 percent less to spend on UK public services than if the licence fee had risen with inflation since 2010.
"Now the severe impact of the coronavirus crisis on our commercial operations, along with the delayed introduction of the new over-75s scheme and hit to our licence fee income, has led to a substantial shortfall.
"It means we have had to set a new, additional savings target for the current year of £125 million, with more to come next year.
"That is on top of the challenge of reaching the significant savings we have long factored into our financial plans for 2020/21, in a tougher than ever environment."
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BBC news: The broadcaster warned it is facing a number of challenges (Image: GETTY)
Sir David also defended the decision to introduce the TV licence fee for over-75s last month as "fair", warning significant cuts would have to be made to BBC services if the concession had been extended to everyone.
He continued: "In 2015, the Government made clear