Money Wellness
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calendar icon17 Aug 2023

Low-income families missing out on social tariff savings

A study by Social Market Foundation has found that a lack of awareness around social tariffs has left many low-income households struggling to pay bills, with 29% of the families it spoke to spending more than 80% of their income on essential bills.

It also found that the public are broadly supportive of social tariffs for low-income households, with 59% in favour of giving discounted rates for essential goods and services to those struggling financially.

However, the help isn’t necessarily reaching the families who need it the most, with many being prevented from using social tariffs because they were either unaware they existed or didn’t know how to claim.

Social Market Foundation conducted two online focus group sessions with low-income families. The final stage of the project – commissioned by Citizens Advice – is to use the findings to build a framework to help households afford essentials during the cost of living crisis.


What are social tariffs?

Social tariffs are discounted rates offered by providers to low income or financially struggling families for essentials bills such as broadband, home and mobile phone, gas, electricity and water.

Social tariffs are cheaper than regular packages but are delivered in exactly the same way as normal services, just at lower prices.

Who is eligible for social tariffs?

You’ll qualify if you receive government benefits, such as:

  • Universal credit
  • Pension credit
  • Income support
  • Income-based jobseekers allowance
  • Income-based employment and support allowance

How do you apply for a social tariff?

This is where it gets complicated. There’s not one specific point to enquire about social tariff contracts across all essential bills. You’ll therefore have to contact each provider and ask them if they have a social tariff or shop around.

Avatar of Caroline Chell

Caroline Chell

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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