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BT to launch £15/mth fibre broadband plan for millions on low incomes – but many can get similar cheap deals now

fibre internet cable image

BT is to launch a super-cheap fast fibre broadband plan for 4.6 million households claiming certain benefits at the end of June – but there's no need to wait as many can get similar prices now.

The new BT 'Home Essentials' tariff will offer average download speeds of 36Mb and come with 700 mins of calls for £15/mth – less than half the price of the cheapest equivalent package you can currently get directly from BT (which costs £34.99/mth). Alternatively, those eligible can also opt for a faster 67Mb connection and unlimited calls for £20/mth or a landline-only option with unlimited calls for £10/mth.

Those who aren't eligible – who are often paying for an average fibre tariff at £30/mth to £45/mth – should look at slashing costs now as there are cheap, fast fibre deals from around £18/mth. For some, even if you are eligible, it's always worth checking if it is better to switch now rather than wait for the new BT tariff – especially if you're massively overpaying. Use our Broadband Unbundled tool to find your best deal.

'This is a seriously hot deal for those who are eligible'

Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com said: "At a first glance this looks to be a very good offer from BT for those who can get it – though I still want to see the final small print once it launches.

"While there are occasionally short-term promotional deals available from other firms – all of these are usually at a higher monthly price with new customer sign-up incentives, such as a £100 Amazon voucher, that brings the price down once factored in.

"The fact this deal has a consistent underlying price of £15/mth with a big name supplier – that if you're already a customer shouldn't require a credit check – makes it pretty close to unbeatable, for cheapness and lack of hassle. If you want substantially faster speeds though, it is always worth doing a comparison and double checking elsewhere.

"My one concern though, is that BT is getting rid of its BT Basic option for new customers. This includes a very cheap 'phone-line only' deal, and a cheaper 'non-fibre broadband and line package'. For those who don’t want broadband this will push costs up substantially. I hope it reviews that decision."

You'll need to be on certain benefits to get BT's new plan

In order to be eligible for the BT Home Essentials plan, you'll need to be in receipt of one of the following means-tested benefits:

  • Universal credit.
  • Guarantee credit element of pension credit.
  • Jobseeker's allowance.
  • Income support.
  • Employment and support allowance.

Both new and existing BT customers will be able to apply for Home Essentials online from the end of June, and you'll be able to find out if you're eligible instantly. BT says the deal will cover an estimated 4.6 million households.

New customers will be credit checked (using credit reference agencies Equifax and Experian) to get the tariff. BT says eligible customers with the lowest credit ratings won't be rejected, though it's unclear at this stage what it may require, if anything, from customers instead. BT adds that its credit criteria for Home Essentials will be lower than for those applying for other BT contracts. If you're an existing BT customer you won't be credit checked. 

Once you're on Home Essentials, you won't be tied in as there's no minimum contract term, which means you'll be able to leave penalty-free at any point.

Home Essentials will replace BT's Basic package for new customers – but existing users WON'T have to switch

BT already offers reduced prices for people on certain benefits via its 'BT Basic' packages – those eligible can get line rental and standard (ie, non-fibre) broadband for £10.07/mth or line rental only for £5.16/mth. Here's what will happen to BT Basic when the new Home Essentials tariffs launch:

  • BT Basic will close to new customers. If you're new to BT, you'll only be able to get Home Essentials once it launches. So if you don't need fibre broadband or unlimited calls it's worth checking if you can get BT Basic now, as it's cheaper. See the BT website for details on how to apply.
  • Existing BT Basic customers will NOT be forced to change tariff. If you have a BT Basic package, you can stay on it indefinitely (provided your circumstances don't change). If you need the higher internet speeds on the Home Essentials plan, you can ask BT to upgrade but you'll have to pay the costlier new prices.

    Of course, if your circumstances change (eg, you stop getting the relevant benefit), you'll need to tell BT and it'll suggest alternatives – though these may not be the best deals on the market, so do your own comparison on top. As always, remember to check for early exit fees before switching mid-contract. See our Cheap broadband guide for help.

You can already get cheap fibre broadband elsewhere

BT isn't the only provider to offer specific deals to those on benefits – KCOM (which is only available in Hull and East Riding where BT isn't available) offers 'Flex' packages, including fibre broadband and 20 local calls for £20/mth, while Virgin Media offers existing customers a 15Mb connection for £15/mth. 

But while the BT plan is currently unbeatable on price at £15/mth for those wanting around 36Mb broadband, other good deals are currently available – and they're open to everyone, not just those on low incomes.

The cheapest superfast fibre-broadband and line plan we've seen this year is Vodafone's 63Mb deal for £22/mth. But you'll be able to claim (it's not automatic, so don't forget) a £100 Amazon voucher within four months of joining. So if you'd spend that anyway, factor it in and the cost is equivalent to £17.84/mth over the 2yr contract. For more options, see our Cheap broadband guide or use our Broadband Unbundled tool to find your best deal.

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