- The ruthless tactics used by BBC licence fee collectors have been exposed
- Families hounded by BBC licence fee collectors have called them ‘intimidating’
- Accused officials of snooping through windows and forcing their way into homes
- Vulnerable people threatened into paying £145.50 fee when it was not necessary
Ruthless and underhand tactics used by BBC licence fee agents can be exposed today.
Under an aggressive incentive scheme, hundreds of enforcement officers have orders to each catch 28 evaders a week.
Bosses promise bonuses of up to £15,000 a year, saying staff must gather evidence to take as many people to court as possible.
Homeowners who fail to pay can be fined and given criminal records.
Among the vulnerable targeted in the past seven days are a war veteran with dementia and a desperate young mother in a women’s refuge.
The revelations come from an investigation by a Daily Mail undercover reporter interviewed for an enforcement job by Capita.
The outsourcing firm is paid £58million a year to collect licence fees for the BBC, bringing in £3.74billion a year.
The reporter was told by bosses: ‘We will drive you as hard as we can to get as much as we can out of you because we’re greedy.’ He was encouraged to spy on homes and take money on the doorstep.
‘Cash, debit, credit card, we’ll take anything,’ one TV Licensing manager said. ‘I tell people I’ll take shirt buttons.’
Last night, the BBC ordered an urgent investigation into the Mail’s findings, insisting there would be ‘swift and appropriate action’.
The reporter was told by bosses: ‘We will drive you as hard as we can to get as much as we can out of you because we’re greedy’
Culture Secretary Karen Bradley will question the BBC’s director general Tony Hall about the Mail’s findings in the coming days. Capita’s bosses also face being hauled before MPs.
The Government is now under renewed pressure to decriminalise the so-called ‘TV tax’ and crack down on the aggressive way in which payments are pursued.
The Mail’s undercover investigation found that:
- Officials are encouraged to snoop on neighbourhoods to try to work out when residents are in;
- They gather evidence by informal chats, followed by an official caution;
- If allowed inside they check TVs to gather evidence;
- Residents who agree to pay up can still be prosecuted.