Are you missing out on broadband savings?
More than half of low-income families know nothing about how social tariffs could slash their broadband bills, according to recent research by Ofcom.
What are social tariffs?
Broadband is considered an essential service, but many families face digital exclusion because they can’t afford to be connected to the internet. Social tariffs have been designed to help tackle this problem.
They’re available to an estimated 4.3 million households who receive one of a range of government benefits. However, just 220,000 (5.1%) have taken advantage of the scheme, despite the fact it could cut the annual cost of broadband in half for many families. On average, these deals could save £234 a year or nearly £20 per month for those who are financially vulnerable.
Is a social tariff as good as a normal broadband deal?
Social tariffs are delivered in the same way as normal packages. Switching to a social tariff doesn’t mean a substandard service - it’s not a cheaper product for a lesser service. They offer the same speed, usually over 30 Mbps, which is fast enough to deal with a typical household’s internet demands from working and shopping to live streaming. The quality is exactly the same as a standard broadband package.
Importantly, they’re not affected by annual mid-contract price hikes either so you can plan your outgoings more easily.
Do I qualify for social tariffs?
If you or someone in your household claims universal credit, you could switch to any of the tariffs available.
Major suppliers also include people on pensions credit, employment and support allowance, jobseeker’s allowance and income support. Some also offer the contracts to those claiming benefits such as personal independence payments and attendance allowance.
The person receiving the benefits needs to be the main person on the contract.
How to apply
A growing number of providers now offer social tariff deals. It’s best to check if your current provider offers a social tariff first. You can apply for most tariffs online or call your provider and ask to switch.
If your provider doesn’t offer a social tariff, you can switch to one that does. Your provider should let you leave your current contract without paying a penalty fee.
Offers change all the time. Providers with social tariff schemes include recognisable names such as of BT, Sky, Virgin Media and Vodaphone, as well as a range of niche smaller businesses, with some contracts starting from as little as £10 a month.
It’s worth noting that social tariffs won’t show up on comparison sites so you will have to go to the provider’s website for information.
Most broadband providers will now do an instant eligibility check when you apply, which means you no longer need to provide evidence of your benefits statement. You will have to give your national insurance number and the provider may carry out a credit check.
What if you’re not eligible?
Other support might be available to customers who aren’t eligible for social tariffs. If you’re worried about the amount you’re spending on broadband or struggling to pay your bills, speak to your provider as soon as possible and see how they can help.
It’s worth comparing broadband deals to see if you could find a better deal elsewhere. The broadband market is very competitive, and many providers offer savings to attract new customers.
If you’re still struggling
If your problem debt is keeping you awake at night, you’re not alone. We help hundreds of people every day ease their financial worries. We can also ensure you’re accessing all the benefits and support that’s available to you, including social tariffs.
Caroline has worked in financial communications for more than 10 years, writing content on subjects such as pensions, mortgages, loans and credit cards, as well as stockbroking and investment advice.
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