What is a broadband social tariff? How millions miss cheaper internet

What is a broadband social tariff? How millions are missing out on cheap internet deals

  • Over four million UK households missing out on discounted broadband package
  • MailOnline reveals everything you need to know about broadband social tariffs 

More than four million UK households are missing out on heavily-discounted broadband deals, according to Ofcom. 

The regulator said more than half of low-income households do not know about cheaper broadband and phone deals, known as social tariffs. 

It comes amid a rise in the number of households struggling to afford communications services as the cost of living has soared. 

So, what exactly is a broadband social tariff? How much can you save on broadband costs? Will the price of your contract increase? 

Read on below for everything you need to know about broadband social tariffs.  

More than four million UK households are missing out on heavily-discounted broadband deals, according to Ofcom

What is a broadband social tariff? 

A broadband social tariff is a discounted service offered by most major broadband providers in the UK. 

They exist to help customers have landline and internet access at reduced rates, so that people requiring benefits such as Universal Credit can afford broadband costs. 

During the cost-of-living crisis, a broadband social tariff could make a crucial difference in helping people to afford other essentials. 

Social tariffs are voluntary offers made by broadband companies, which receive no government funding as a result. 

The discount costs are absorbed by the broadband providers, meaning that they have less incentive to advertise cheaper deals to existing customers, who could unknowingly be paying higher prices. 

How much can I save on broadband? 

Broadband social tariffs could save customers around £200 a year. 

A mere 5% of eligible households have signed up to a discounted package which offers superfast broadband speeds from as little as £12 a month, according to Ofcom’s report. 

Nearly 30% of households had an issue affording their services in January, double those that said so in April 2021, Ofcom found.

Affordability issues can include having to reduce spending elsewhere to pay for a service, making a change to a deal or missing a bill.

Around 20 providers now offer fixed broadband social tariffs to an estimated 4.3 million households getting universal credit, pension credit and some other government benefits.

The watchdog said it has asked companies to review their social tariff webpages ‘as a matter of urgency’ after finding examples of incorrect information about the deals online.

It is also urging TalkTalk and O2 to introduce social tariffs for broadband and mobile and waive fees for anyone who chooses to switch providers in order to access a deal, as two large providers who have yet to do so. 

Is my broadband going up? 

An online calculator can show how much more families will have to pay for their broadband over the next two years as ISPs raise prices.

Millions of customers who get their broadband from BT, EE, O2, Plusnet, Shell, Sky TalkTalk, Three, Virgin Media and Vodafone will be hit with sharp price hikes as high as 17.3 per cent from April 2023. 

To use the calculator, simply select your broadband provider, and the details of your contract, to find out how much your monthly bill could go up. 

Most major broadband providers now offer a fixed social tariff, including BT, Sky, Virgin Media and Now.

Vodafone, EE and Three, via sub-brand Smarty, are among the mobile network providers to have launched the discounted packages.

Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s group director for network and communications, said: ‘Hundreds of thousands of customers are now benefitting from the huge savings that can be made from securing a social tariff. 

‘But millions are still missing out on superfast speeds for super low prices – with many not aware they even exist. 

‘We’re urging anyone who thinks they could be eligible for a discount deal to contact their provider today and potentially save hundreds of pounds. 

‘Providers should also do much more to help these customers find and access these deals, at a time when these savings could make a massive difference.’ 

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