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Broadband for low income families

Broadband is now a key utility for many, but according to regulator Ofcom, one million households are struggling to pay their broadband bill. There are special discounted social tariffs available to help, but millions who eligible are missing out. Check below to see what firms are offering and if you qualify. 

Can I get free broadband?

Currently free broadband isn't generally available in the UK. But jobseekers on universal credit who don't have broadband already may be able to get six months' worth of free broadband from TalkTalk under a partnership with Jobcentre Plus. It's technically not a 'social tariff', but it's free fibre broadband (average 38Mb speed, no phone line) and there's no contract, so there's no obligation to continue after the six months is up.

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

Six providers currently offer discounted 'social tariffs' for those on universal credit and similar benefits. But the regulator Ofcom says more than four million people eligible for them aren't taking them up, missing out on savings averaging £144/year.  

We've added a full list of top discounted social broadband tariffs to our broadband comparison tool, but below is a round-up of all the social tariffs currently on offer and full eligibility criteria. They're all available to new and existing customers. 

Broadband providers offering social tariffs

PROVIDER & AVG SPEED

COST

QUALIFYING BENEFITS

BT Home Essentials 1

- 36Mb
 

Home Essentials 2

- 67Mb 

£15/mth
+ £9.99 upfront

 

£20/mth
+ £9.99 upfront

- Universal credit
- Employment and support allowance

- Pension credit ('guarantee credit' element)
- Income support

- Jobseeker's allowance

Community Fibre (London only)

- 10Mb

£10/mth

- Universal credit
- Employment and support allowance

- Care leavers support

- Pension credit ('guarantee credit' element)

- Housing benefit

- Income support

- Jobseeker's allowance

- Personal independent payment

G.Network Essential Fibre Broadband (London only)

- 50Mb

£15/mth

- Universal credit
- Attendance allowance

- Employment and support allowance

- Pension credit ('guarantee credit' element)

- Income support

- Jobseeker's allowance

Hyperoptic Fair Fibre 50 (London only)

- 50Mb

£15/mth

- Universal credit
- Employment and support allowance

- Care leavers support

- Pension credit ('guarantee credit' element)

- Housing benefit
- Income support

- Jobseeker's allowance

- Personal independent payment

KCOM Full Fibre Flex (East Yorkshire & North Lincolnshire only)

- 30Mb

£19.99/mth

- Universal credit (and out of work)
- Employment and support allowance

- Pension credit ('guarantee credit' element)

- Income support

- Jobseeker's allowance

- Personal independence payment

Virgin Media Essential Broadband

- 15Mb

£15/mth - Universal credit

How do social tariffs compare to regular deals?

Once you've seen what's available above, you can do a broadband comparison via our Broadband Unbundled tool to see what wins for you.

These social tariffs have consistently low costs, so are - for most who qualify - unbeatable price-wise if you want to stick with one provider for a number of years. Though if you're a regular switcher you will be able to undercut them by riding the top deals for the switching incentives and changing every year or two.

What to do if you're struggling to pay your bill

It's worth speaking to your broadband provider as soon as possible if you're going to have trouble paying your monthly bill. Some of the large providers have schemes in place to help customers who've encountered financial problems.

A number of providers, including BT, Sky and Vodafone, have told us they'll help those who are struggling to pay their bills. They haven't given us specifics about what help they'll provide, but they've asked anyone affected to contact them as soon as possible to discuss their options.

This follows regulator Ofcom telling firms they must do all they can to keep people's broadband running.

Ofcom told us: "Providers should only commence debt collection activities after a sufficient period of time (for example, at least three months) to allow consumers to get help and only disconnect consumers as a last resort. We have called on providers to revisit their debt and disconnection practices, to ensure sufficient support is offered to customers who may be struggling to pay their bills."

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