The BBC will end its licence fee amnesty for over-75s next months as the corporation will chase payment from 260,000 pensioners who have yet to settle their bill.

In February, the Telegraph revealed how the BBC had suspended its threat to prosecute over-75s who had failed to set up a new television licence, following an outcry over the scheme.

The corporation said the temporary amnesty was a response to the pandemic but declined to say how long it would last.

In a statement on Tuesday, the BBC said this grace period will now end on July 31 because over-75s’ households are now "in line with the general public".

It reads: "We are enormously grateful for the high level of support that over-75s customers have shown for the licence fee.

 "Latest figures show more than nine in 10 over-75 households have now made arrangements for a free or paid licence or updated us on changes in their circumstances. 

"This is in line with the broader UK population – the overwhelming majority pay the licence fee and enjoy the great programmes and services the BBC provides on TV, radio and online.

"As we have now reached a situation where over-75s households are in line with the general population, the extended transition period we put in place due to Covid will end on 31 July 2021. 

"And in line with general policy, anyone who watches or records live TV programmes on any channel, or downloads or watches BBC programmes on iPlayer, must be covered by a valid TV licence."

Outlining its next steps, the corporation said it would "shortly be writing to the remaining 260,000 customers who haven’t yet made arrangements".

As part of its "ongoing support" the BBC said it would start visiting people’s houses from the autumn now that Covid restrictions allow.

It said: "We will continue to support older customers as much as possible. This will include customer care visits for those who require further assistance. 

"These were promised at the beginning of this process but can now take place, subject to any further Covid-19 restrictions, and will begin in the autumn."

‘Is Government prepared to see people in their 90s carted off to jail for non-payment of TV licence?’

Silver Voices has been leading the campaign against scrapping free licences and will continue to support all those senior citizens who take a stand against enforcement.

The group’s director Dennis Reed said: "The BBC seems to think that this matter is settled, and I was surprised how smug the Executives were. 

"The figures of non-payers have been massaged down throughout the year even though the audited numbers of those actually paying have only just edged up. 

"A year on from the scrapping of free licences, a significant hard core remains of over 75s who are refusing or unable to pay. 

"Is the BBC going to fine and potentially take to court, hundreds of thousands of senior citizens who are standing
out against the scrapping of this welfare benefit? 

"We have massive political and media support for a rethink on this issue and the Government now needs to intervene urgently to force a solution. 

"Is the Government really prepared to see large numbers of people in their 80s and 90s, who have paid tax all their lives, and sometimes served in war for the country, fined up to £1,000 and then carted off to jail for non-payment of a TV licence?"