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BBC unveils action plan to help women “In severe financial hardship” pay their license fees

The BBC has unveiled an action plan to help “reduce the number of women in severe financial hardship who are prosecuted for licence fee evasion.”

The corporation has been under pressure to help women struggling to pay the £159 ($200) annual fee after a report found 75% of those prosecuted for evasion are female. The BBC has always stressed that prosecution is a last resort and said around 0.2% of the nation’s 25 million license fee holders were prosecuted last year.

A study from an independent adviser, Lola Young, unveiled today, said the BBC will bring in a two-month breathing space rule on enforcement action for anyone in financial difficulty as long as they agree to free, independent debt advice.

The BBC will also extend the simple payment plan that helps spread the cost of the license fee in small instalments over 12 months to unlicensed households, the action plan said, along with working with debt advice charity StepChange.

The plan said the BBC should give license fee holders “every opportunity to buy a licence before any prosecution case is started by testing different approaches for how visiting officers engage on the

Young’s report cleared the BBC of discrimination towards women over the license fee statistics but said the female disparity is “largely caused by societal factors outside the BBC’s control.”

BBC Policy Director Claire Sumner said the plan will “improve support for people in real financial difficulty to help them stay licensed and reduce risk of prosecution.” Deadline

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