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Vulnerable households missing out on social broadband tariffs

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Written by: Emma Lunn
25/11/2021
Two thirds of low-income households are unaware of cheap social broadband tariffs which could save them up to £234 a year.

‘Social’ tariffs are means-tested offers for broadband customers who receive government benefits, such as Universal Credit, Pension Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Income Support.

But Uswitch found that despite about 16 million people being eligible for the tariffs, as little as one in six (15%) apply for them. This means ten million financially vulnerable households have not signed up to a social tariff that they might be eligible for, yet it could save them up to £234 a year on their broadband bill.

According to Uswitch, the average monthly spend on broadband among those eligible for social tariffs is £34.50. BT Home Essentials is just £15 a month – so switching to this tariff could save eligible customers £19.50 a month, or £234 a year.

Other social tariffs include those from Community Fibre (£10 a month), Hyperoptic (£15 a month), Virgin Media (£15 a month) and TalkTalk (free to people deemed eligible by the Department for Work and Pensions).

With inflation hitting the highest levels in a decade, Uswitch.com is advising eligible customers who might be struggling with their bills to look whether broadband social tariffs are suitable for them.

Ernest Doku, broadband expert at Uswitch.com, said: “At a time when the cost of living is soaring for many households, more need to be aware of the deals that might be available to those customers who struggle the most.

“With almost three quarters of people having never heard of social tariffs, it’s not surprising that take-up isn’t as high as it could be. Social tariffs are an important way for financially vulnerable households to get a decent service at a lower cost, and providers like BT, Virgin Media, Community Fibre, Hyperoptic and others are doing their bit to help out.

“If you’re claiming one or more government benefits in your household, you could be entitled to switch to these tariffs, which could reduce your broadband bills by £234 a year on average.

“If a social tariff isn’t for you, or not currently available at your location, try considering what you need from your broadband and mobile before locking into a contract and don’t overpay for data or speeds you don’t need.”

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