Two thirds of low-income households are unaware that broadband social tariffs exist, new research has revealed.
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.
Some 16million people are estimated to be eligible for the tariffs but as little as 15 per cent apply for them, according to research from uSwitch.
This means 10million financially vulnerable households have not signed up to a social tariff that they might be eligible for, yet it could save them up hundreds a year on their broadband bills.
Millions of people are unaware that low income families can access broadband social tariffs
The average monthly spend on broadband among those eligible for social tariffs is £34.50, therefore, applying for BT Home Essentials at £15 a month could save eligible customers £19.50 a month, or £234 a year.
With inflation hitting the highest levels in a decade, uSwitch 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, 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.’
Uswitch surveyed 2,000 adults in November 2021 for the results.
Low income customers could save hundreds of pounds a year by switching to social tariffs
Which tariffs are available?
There are a number of broadband social tariffs available for those on low incomes.
This includes BT Home Essentials for just £15 a month and speeds of 36Mbps. It also offers a speedier version of 67Mbps for £20 a month.
Community Fibre is another available product for £10 a month but will only come with speeds of 10 Mbps. It is also only available for customers in London.
Hyperoptic is giving consumers the chance to get some of the fastest speeds of 50Mbps on its Fair Fibre 50 deal.
Customers can upgrade to 150Mbps for £25 a month instead.
TalkTalk is still the only provider that is offering broadband for customers in need for free.
Its Broadband for Jobseekers costs nothing and eligible consumers will receive speeds of up to 40Mbps. To read more about how it works, click here.
Customers looking to join one of these tariffs should check their eligibility first and some differ depending on what benefits they currently receive.
|Product||Cost per month||Speed||Eligibility|
|BT Home Essentials||£15||About 36 Mbps||Universal Credit (all claimants), Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit), Employment and Support Allowance (Eligibility rules apply), Jobseekers Allowance (Eligibility rules apply), Income Support|
|BT Home Essentials 2||£20||About 67 Mbps||Universal Credit (all claimants), Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit), Employment and Support Allowance (Eligibility rules apply), Jobseekers Allowance (Eligibility rules apply), Income Support|
|Community Fibre||£10||10 Mbps||Universal Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, Income-based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA), Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Care Leavers support, Personal Independence Payment. London-based.|
|Hyperoptic Fair Fibre 50||£15||50 Mbps||Income Support. Pension Credit. Income-related Job Seekers Allowance (JSA). Housing Benefit. Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance, Universal Credit, Care Leavers support, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Available in 57 UK towns and cities.|
|Hyperoptic Fair Fibre 150||£25||150 Mbps||Income Support. Pension Credit. Income-related Job Seekers Allowance (JSA). Housing Benefit. Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance, Universal Credit, Care Leavers support, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Available in 57 UK towns and cities.|
|KCOM Full Fibre Flex||£19.99||30 Mbps||Income Support, Pension Credit, Job Seekers Allowance, Housing Benefit, Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance, Universal Credit, with zero earnings, Care Home residents and Lifeline customers who are referred to us via Social Services, Care Leavers, Employment and Support Allowance (EAS) (Income related), Individuals on the Government’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Shielded Patients List|
|Virgin Media Essential Broadband||£15||15 Mbps||Universal Credit|
|TalkTalk Broadband for Jobseekers||Free||Up to 40Mbps||DWP identifies eligible customers|
|Source: Uswitch (prices correct as of 24 November 2021)|