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Millions more can now access Virgin Media’s £12.50 broadband tariff

Written by: Rebecca Goodman
Almost 10 million more people can now access the social broadband tariff after Virgin Media O2 changed its eligibility criteria.

The company has extended the list of benefits a customer needs to be receiving in order to sign up to the cheaper tariff.

Anyone who receives one of the following benefits can now access the provider’s social tariff:

  • Income-based Employment Support Allowance
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit

Rise of 424% in sign-ups in 2022

The provider has two social tariffs, Essential Broadband, priced at £12.50, and Essential Broadband Plus, priced at £20.

The Essential Broadband package, which has speeds of 15Mbps, was launched in 2020 and previously just open to those receiving universal credit. Last year, the price was cut, from £15 to £12.50.

The more expensive social tariff, Essential Broadband Plus, is £20 per month and has speeds of 54Mbps.

There are no activation fees on either social tariff and customers can leave at any point and aren’t tied into a contract. They are also excluded from price hikes, including the upcoming rise of 13.8% from the provider.

After making a series of changes to its website, including making its social tariffs more visible, and raising awareness of the provider’s social tariffs, it said there was a yearly rise of 424% in sign-ups in 2022. This could also be because inflation is soaring and many people are struggling financially.

It said it has been able to allow more people to join the cheaper tariffs after integrating the Department for Work and Pensions’ social tariff checking tool. This tool lets people prove their eligibility automatically.

Several providers offer social tariffs yet Ofcom has called for providers to make these more accessible and to encourage more people to sign up to them if they are eligible.

The cheapest, priced at £12 per month for speeds of 38Mbps, comes from Vodafone. Three also launched a £12 social phone tariff last month.

It is now calling for a VAT cut to social tariffs, from 20% to no more than 5%, in line with other utility bills including energy.

‘Connectivity remains essential in so many ways’

Jeff Dodds, chief operating officer for Virgin Media O2 said: “As the first major provider to introduce a social tariff, and the only operator to have cut the price of this, we have a history of stepping up in tough times.

“Connectivity remains essential in so many ways, so we are expanding the eligibility criteria for our social tariffs to make it easier and faster for millions more low-income families to access this support during the cost-of-living crisis.”

Virgin Media O2 said it is the only provider to allow customers with a social tariff to sign up for an entertainment product.

Those with the Essential Broadband Plus tariff, can add Virgin Media O2’s entertainment service, Stream, for an upfront one-off cost of £20, instead of the usual £35 charge.

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