Universal Credit: You could get help with broadband as 2.5million fall behind on bills

Anna Richardson shares tips for cutting broadband bills

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Universal Credit is designed to help those who are out of work, unable to work, or who are on a low income. The payment is overseen by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) who issues the sum once every month in most cases. A payment of Universal Credit can help Britons juggle various day-to-day living costs which frequently crop up.

However, an issue is arising for many claimants who are found to be behind on their broadband bills.

New research has shown those in receipt of Universal Credit are nine times more likely to be behind on broadband bills, than those who are not claiming the benefit.

Citizens Advice has warned some 2.5million people are behind on their broadband bills.

Indeed, 700,000 of these individuals have fallen into the red during COVID-19.

But as more people become reliant on broadband for working life, schoolwork and other responsibilities, this could create a major problem.

Dame Clare Moriarty, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, commented on the matter.

She said: “Broadband is not a luxury, it’s an essential, like gas and electricity. 

“Lack of broadband creates yet another hurdle in the hunt for jobs, helping children with their schoolwork, and being able to access help, information and fill in forms online. Those with a broadband connection can have a huge head start on those who don’t. 

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“Ofcom and the Government must ensure everyone can afford their broadband, no matter which provider they are with. People shouldn’t be penalised simply because their provider isn’t one of the few firms that offers a cheaper tariff.”

Thankfully, for those who are on Universal Credit, there are a number of options which are designed to help with broadband affordability. 

Back in November 2020, Virgin Media announced a new price plan to help those on benefits such as Universal Credit.

The plan, which costs £15 a month, is intended to keep costs low to help people manage this element of their finances.

Speaking at the time, Jeff Dodds, chief operating officer at Virgin Media, said the tariff could help those impacted by COVID-19.

He stated: “The launch of our Essential broadband service is about supporting customers who are experiencing financial difficulty and uncertainty.

“We all know how important connectivity is right now to our day to day lives, so this reliable, hassle-free service will help people to get online and carry out essential activities.”

Another option available is BT Basic, which also covers monthly line rental.

This option could potentially save individuals hundreds of pounds each year in costs.

The monthly line rental option only costs £5.15 a month, but for those who wish to add broadband, the total cost will be £10.07.

To claim this form of support, Britons who are on Universal Credit must have zero earnings.

BT is also to launch its ‘Home Essentials’ service this month to help Universal Credit recipients.

Described as a “market-leading social tariff” it is to offer affordable fibre broadband alongside calls.

For £15 per month, Britons can receive 700 minutes of calls as well as an average download speed of 36Mbps.

The option will be available for individuals who are receiving Universal Credit as well as other legacy benefits.

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