Millions eligible for £144 discount off their broadband bill if they claim DWP benefit

Universal Credit: Expert discusses benefits of claiming

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Some 4.2 million families who claim Universal Credit could see their broadband bills halved, according to media regulator Ofcom. ‘Social tariffs’, which are as special discounted packages for bills, are readily available to those who get the DWP benefit payment. However, Ofgem is sounding the alarm that very few people are claiming this useful discount which could save households a small fortune.

The regulator reports that only 55,000 homes have taken advantage of these discounted rates, which is only 1.2 percent of those eligible.

As a result, millions of Universal Credit claimants are missing out on a discount which could save them £144 on their broadband bill.

Currently, six broadband providers offer a variation of this special discount. Among the broadcasters are BT, Community Fibre, G.Network, Hyperoptic, KCOM and Virgin Media O2.

In Ofgem’s recent Affordability report, the regulator found that 1.1 million households are finding it difficult to pay for their home broadband service, which is around five percent of the population.

This rises to 10 percent among the lowest income households in the country with families set to be squeezed by rising energy bills and inflation.

On its website, Ofgem offers a hypothetical example as to how people can benefit from this social tariff discount.

The regulator stated: “A standard commercial broadband package costs an unemployed person claiming Universal Credit an average of £27 per month – or 8.3 percent of their monthly disposable income.

“A £15 social tariff would almost halve their broadband costs and use up 4.6 percent of disposable income.”

Despite the benefits of this discount, Ofgem’s report revealed that 84 percent of the public are unaware of social tariffs.

In order to increase consumer uptake with these discounts, the regulator is calling for broadband providers to do more to help those who are most in need by offering social tariffs and promoting further deals.

As well as this, Ofgem is encouraging them to make information clear to customers on how the tariffs operate and make it easier to apply for discounts on their websites.

Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Network and Communications group director, emphasised why people should take advantage of this broadband discount.

Ms Fussell explained: “People rely on their broadband for staying in touch, working and learning from home.

“But for those who are really struggling with rising bills, every penny counts.

“Special discounts can make all the difference, and too many broadband firms are failing either to promote their social tariff or to offer one at all.

“We expect companies to step up support for those on low incomes, and we’ll be watching their response.”

Examples of social tariffs provided by broadband companies are BT Home Essentials and BT Home Essentials 2, which are priced at £15 and £20 a month, respectively.

Furthemore, Community Fibre’s offering is priced at £10 a month, while G.Network Essential Fibre Broadband comes to £15 over the same period of time.

These discounts are available to claimants of various DWP benefits, who are either in or out of work.

In comparison, Virgin Media Essential Broadband is priced at £15 a month and is only available to Universal Credit claimants.

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