Millions of Universal Credit claimants eligible for £144 discount off their broadband bill

Universal Credit: Sunak slammed for 'foolhardy' decision on cuts

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Broadband ‘social tariffs’ are currently available to 4.2 million households across the UK who are in receipt of Universal Credit. This particular discount could save Britons £144 on their broadband bill if they get the payment from the DWP. However, only 1.2 percent of these households who are eligible are claiming this vital means of support, according to Ofcom.

As a result, the media industry is lobbying internet and broadband providers to make this discount more readily available to those who are most in need.

Outside of Universal Credit, claimants of Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance and Pensions Credit are also entitled to this support.

It should be noted that different broadband providers offer alternative social tariff rates to their competitors.

BT and Virgin Media are among the many broadband providers who offer customers a deal on their bill if they claim qualifying benefits.

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Last year, Uswitch issued a public reminder to households about the potential benefits of social tariff broadband deals for Universal Credit recipients.

In light of Ofcom’s intervention last month, the comparison service called on broadband providers to step-up to the plate and help consumers where possible.

Ernest Doku, a broadband expert from Uswitch.com, commented: “As we highlighted in November, it’s shocking to think that so many vulnerable people have never heard of social tariffs.

“While raising awareness plays a large part, there are still too many big broadband providers who are not offering help via social tariffs for their customers.

“At a time when the cost of living is soaring for many households, more needs to be done to make people aware of the deals that are available to those customers who struggle the most.”

Mr Doku continued: “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 all doing their bit to help out.

“Providers are also incentivised to offer these types of tariffs, as Openreach has offered to waive the connection fees providers are faced with, should they opt to connect vulnerable households to their network.”

Openreach is the UK broadband network which many providers operate on, so social tariffs are structurally supported within the country’s wider broadband infrastructure.

Poverty organisations, such as Citizens Advice Scotland, are also pushing for greater promotion of these broadband deals.

Gillian Fyfe, a spokesperson for Citizens Advice Scotland, explained: “These take-up figures are shocking.

“Low income families across the country are really struggling because of the rise in energy bills, the end of furlough and the reduction in Universal Credit.

“Saving £144 could be a lifeline for them, and yet it seems very few of them know about it or feel able to choose that option.

“The responsibility here lies with the broadband providers. It’s not enough for them simply to offer social tariffs.

“They need to make people aware that these options exist, and exactly how they should go about selecting these tariffs.”

The poverty expert added: “Citizens Advice Scotland would also want to see eligibility for social tariffs extended so more people can take advantage of them and for social tariffs to also be offered in the mobile market.

“The Citizens Advice network will do our bit to make people aware of social tariffs, but the providers themselves must also take responsibility to increase take up.”

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