4 million households could be missing out on discounted broadband rates, according to the consumer regulator Ofcom. Currently only 136,000 households - which is only 3.2% of those eligible - are taking advantage of the "social tariff" giving discounted broadband rates and Ofcom says that providers should be doing more to help those struggling to afford their household bills.
Ofcom's affordability report found that almost 7 out of 10 consumers who are eligible for a broadband social tariff did not know that they exist and despite more providers now offering them, there are still a few major providers that don't yet offer a broadband social tariff. In this article, we look at what a broadband social tariff is and what providers offer a social tariff.
For more ways to save money on your bills each month, read our article, 'How to save money on your household bills'.
What is a broadband social tariff?
A social tariff is a discounted broadband tariff that could save households on certain benefits up to £144 a year. Currently, only 9 broadband providers - Air Broadband, BT, Country Connect, G.Network, Hyperoptic, KCOM, NOW, Sky and Virgin Media - offer social tariffs, which range between £10 - £25 a month and have broadband speeds between 15Mbit/s - 150Mbit/s. For comparison, a superfast broadband speed is considered to be at least 30Mbit/s. Find out more about broadband speeds in our article, 'What broadband speed do I need?'
Ofcom has found that broadband companies do little to promote the social tariffs on offer and believes this may be why so many households are not benefiting from the discounted broadband deals. Ofcom has said that providers must do more to help low-income households and is urging providers to do the following:
- Offer a social tariff - currently only 9 providers offer a social tariff and Ofcom has therefore encouraged other providers, such as EE, to start offering them
- Promote discounted deals - providers don't actively advertise the social tariffs and discounts available for broadband deals. Ofcom is therefore asking providers to be better at promoting and communicating to customers the available tariffs.
- Make the information clear - providers should clearly detail social tariffs on their websites and make it clear who is eligible to benefit from them.
- Make it easy to sign up - Ofcom has said that providers need to make it easy for those eligible for social tariffs to sign up for them.
Who is eligible for a broadband social tariff?
If you receive benefits you may be eligible for a social tariff with a broadband provider. Exactly what benefits you need to receive to be eligible for a social tariff varies per provider, but we detail some of the qualifying benefits below:
- Universal Credit
- Pension Credit
- Income Support
- Jobseeker's allowance
- Care Leavers Support
What broadband social tariffs are available?
At present, there are few social tariffs available but we highlight the current tariffs available in the table below. Click on each link in the table to be taken to the relevant page on the website. Some packages are only available to London residents, but you may also be able to benefit from the packages if you receive additional benefits such as Care Leavers Support, Income Support and Pension Credit.
|Price (per month)||Contract length||Avg Broadband speed (Mbit/s)|
|Air Broadband Air Support||£20||12 months||100|
|BT Home Essentials||£15||12 months||36|
|BT Home Essentials (2)||£20||12 months||67|
|Country Connect Social Tariff||£15||12 months||50|
|G.Network Essential Fibre Broadband||£15||12 months||50|
|Hyperoptic Fair Fibre 50||£15||30-day rolling contract||50|
|Hyperoptic Fair Fibre 150||£25||30-day rolling contract||150|
|KCOM Full Fibre Flex||£14.99||30-day rolling contract||30|
|NOW Broadband Basics||£20||31-day rolling contract||36|
|Sky Broadband Basics||£20||18 months||36|
|Virgin Media Essential Broadband||£15||30-day rolling contract||15|
|VOXI For NOW||£10||6 months (cancel anytime)||5G where available|
(Table updated 29/09/22 - Source Ofcom)