TENS of thousands of pensioners will soon be receiving a letter that ends their automatic right to a free TV licence, in a move that has angered campaigners.

Figures shows that 25,800 households with someone aged 75 or over in East Lancashire will cease to qualify for a free licence under the new means-tested scheme.

The highest number of affected pensioners live in the Ribble Valley, where 6,560 households will be faced with an extra bill over the coming weeks.

Rossendale and Darwen have the next highest number with 4,170 homes soon to be hit with a charge, followed by Hyndburn with 4,050.

In Pendle 4,020 households will have to pay for their licence under the new rules, 3,750 in Burnley and 3,250 in Blackburn.

The new rules came into force on August 1 and mean only households with someone in the age bracket who receives Pension Credit will be eligible for a free licence still.

Previously, anyone aged 75 or over was exempt from the charge, which stands at £157.50 per year.

Around 3.2 million households across Great Britain could lose out on the benefit, according to the findings.

Jan Shortt, general secretary of the National Pensioners Convention, said she would not stop campaigning to have the decision overturned.

She said: “This is devastating for all those people who will now have to find the extra money. We’re particularly concerned about those who are only just over the Pension Credit limit.

“They’re the ones who are already making difficult decisions about how they spend their money.

“For those people their TV is a lifeline, particularly when we might have a second wave of the coronavirus.”

She added: “We will continue to argue with the Government – it’s their responsibility.”

The BBC was given responsibility for funding free TV licences as part of a deal with the Government in 2015.

But the corporation says it would cost £745million a year to foot the bill, which it could afford only by shutting channels and radio stations.

The BBC said it is sending letters to people asking them to confirm their eligibility to continue to receive a free licence, or to pay from August 1.

A BBC spokeswoman said: “It was the Government who decided to stop funding free TV licence fees for the over-75s. The BBC isn’t making any judgements about who is or isn’t poor, as the Government sets the criteria for Pension Credit eligibility.

“Our focus is now on making the transition as safe and easy as possible for all older people.

“No one needs to do anything until they have received a letter from TV Licensing – whether that’s paying or applying for a free licence – and no one needs to leave their home.”

A Department for Culture Media and Sport spokeswoman said: “The BBC agreed to take responsibility for the over-75 concession in 2015 in return for a substantial boost to its income.

“It decided to restrict the concession to only those in receipt of Pension Credit, and must now look at supporting those affected and using its substantial £4billion licence fee income to deliver for audiences of all ages, including by making efficiencies.”