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Millions of households on benefits could save £100s on broadband bills - how to check if you can get a cheaper tariff

Close up of woman hands using multiple devices with broadband router on foreground

Millions of households on low incomes are missing out on average savings of almost £150 a year on their broadband bills, according to Ofcom. The industry regulator has called on providers to better advertise discounted deals for those on benefits - see a full list of available tariffs below.  

Some 4.2 million low-income households are eligible for special discounted broadband packages, according to the latest figures released by Ofcom. But the regulator says only 55,000 households have taken them up, with millions (84% of those eligible) missing out on average savings of £144 a year. 

There are six providers - BT, Community Fibre, G.Network, Hyperoptic, KCOM and Virgin Media O2 - that currently offer so-called "social tariffs" to eligible customers on benefits, but the regulator has called on them to do a better job of letting customers know about the lower prices, as well as urging them to make the sign up process as easy as possible. 

Ofcom has also called on EE, Plusnet, Shell, Sky, TalkTalk and Vodafone to offer discounted tariffs for those on low incomes - though TalkTalk does offer a separate tariff for jobseekers on universal credit.  

For more info on how to cut broadband costs, including what to do if you're struggling financially, see our Cheap Broadband guide. Of course, just because you qualify for a social tariff doesn't mean you can't get a cheaper deal elsewhere - so always use our Broadband Unbundled tool first to compare offers (we're currently working on providing better links to information on social tariffs from within the tool). 

Supplier-by-supplier list of discounted tariffs for those on certain benefits 

Below is a round-up of all the social tariffs on offer and full eligibility criteria - plus info on a different scheme from TalkTalk specifically for job seekers. 

Broadband providers offering social tariffs

Provider

Monthly price

Speed 

Eligibility (in receipt of the following benefits) How to get it (i)

BT Home Essentials (ii) (iii)

£15  36Mbit/s
- Employment and support allowance

- Guarantee credit element of pension credit
- Income support

- Jobseeker's allowance
- Universal credit

Apply online at BT or in store - you'll need to provide your National Insurance number
BT Home Essentials 2 (ii) (iii) £20 67Mbit/s

- Employment and support allowance

- Guarantee credit element of pension credit
- Income support

- Jobseeker's allowance
- Universal credit

Apply online at BT or in store - you'll need to provide your National Insurance number
Community Fibre (London only) £10 10Mbit/s

- Employment and support allowance

- Care leavers support

- Guarantee credit element of pension credit

- Housing benefit
- Income support

- Jobseeker's allowance

- Personal independent payment

- Universal credit

Phone 0800 082 0770 or email covidhelp@communityfibre.co.uk. You'll need to provide evidence of benefits received
G Network Essential Fibre Broadband (London only) £15  50Mbit/s

- Attendance allowance

- Employment and support allowance

- Guarantee credit element of pension credit
- Income support

- Jobseeker's allowance

- Universal credit

Phone 0808 196 3661 or email essentialfibre@g.network. You'll need to provide evidence of benefits received
Hyperoptic Fair Fibre 50 £15  50Mbit/s

- Employment and support allowance

- Care leavers support

- Guarantee credit element of pension credit

- Housing benefit
- Income support

- Jobseeker's allowance

- Personal independent payment

- Universal credit

Phone 0330 127 7508 or email support@hyperoptic.com. You'll need to provide evidence of benefits received.
KCOM Full Fibre Flex (East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire only) £19.99 30Mbit/s

- Employment and support allowance

- Guarantee credit element of pension credit
- Income support

- Jobseeker's allowance

- Personal independence payment
- Universal credit (and out of work)

Phone 01482 484191. You'll need to provide evidence of any benefits received
Now £20 (v) 36Mb/s

- Universal credit

- Pension credit

Call 0333 759 5056. You'll need to provide proof of any benefits received. Only available if you already have broadband with Now
Sky

£20 for 18 months (vi)

 

36Mb/s

- Universal credit

- Pension credit

Call 03337591926. You'll need to provide proof of any benefits received. Only available if you already have broadband with Sky
Virgin Media Essential Broadband £15 15Mbit/s Universal Credit Existing users must apply via this Virgin Essential Broadband link, while new users need to apply via this Virgin link. You'll need to provide evidence of any benefits received
TalkTalk  Free for 6mths (iv) 38Mbit/s Jobseekers on Universal Credit who don't have an internet connection Jobcentre staff will determine eligibility

(i) Both new and existing customers. (ii) BT also offers a landline only package for people on benefits for £10/mth. (iii) You'll also need to pay a £9.99 upfront fee for postage and packaging (iv) At the end of the 6mths you can either choose to take out a new contract with TalkTalk or end the service penalty-free. (v) Rolling contract you can cancel at anytime. (vi) At the end of the 18 months your contract will revert to a standard rate, but you can call and cancel penalty-free beforehand.

What do the providers say?

We contacted EE, Plusnet, Shell, Sky, TalkTalk, and Vodafone to ask whether they plan to offer social tariffs. Here's what they said: 

  • BT Group, which owns BT, EE and Plusnet, told us that EE and Plusnet customers can switch to BT in order to take out one of its Home Essentials deals. We're checking whether you can leave your EE or Plusnet contract penalty-free to do so and we will update this story when we know more. 
  • TalkTalk said it does not offer a social tariff because it offers its own separate scheme, in conjunction with the Department for Work and Pensions, for jobseekers. 
  • Vodafone told us it already offers broadband packages that it said are within Ofcom's social tariff threshold of between £10 and £20 a month, including its 'Superfast 1' tariff at £18 a month and 'Superfast 2' package at £19 a month. 

     However, Ofcom told us that commercially available tariffs, like Vodafone's, can be subject to mid-contract             price rises due to inflation and therefore does not meet its social tariff criteria, adding that  anyone signing up       to Vodafone’s Superfast 1 today on a 24 month contract would see their bill increase by 9.3% in April and by         CPI + 3.9% again in April 2023. 

  • Sky said it is currently looking at "developing its own targeted low-cost tariff for customers".
  • Shell is yet to respond.  

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